The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., March 18, 1949, section 2, page 2

By Arline Winchell Moore

     (Ed note: This is the second in a series of recollections by Mrs. Moore on winters in Hood River county of which she has records or that she has personally known.)

     There is another story of an early day "tough winter" which has to do with a train being stalled in the gorge west of Hood River, near Viento for a period of ten days or more during the winter of 1884-85. The young blades of town made themselves a considerable "grub stake" packing supplies to the marooned passengers through snow which they claimed was from eight to 10 feet deep. The late William (Uncle Billy) Rand, worked a day shift at this venture, used to describe their activities in a most delightful way. With him were Jack Luck, Grant Evans and several others whose names have eluded us. The railroad company paid them $10.00 per day.
     Uncle Billy Rand used to say, "That was big money for those days, but we earned it, every blankety-blank cent of it."
     There is a dim childhood memory of my mind which I fix as the winter of 1892-93 for the reason that there were only two of we children that winter and the third child (my oldest brother) was born July 4, 1893. Our old home was just south of the Pine Grove school. As a matter of fact, the school stood on the north line of our property. The Warren Wells family was living on the present J.D. Lester place that winter. One stormy day brought an urgent call for assistance to our door. I do not remember what the illness was, but, somehow, I think it was a "blessed event." There is no recollection left with me now of what we did upon reaching their home. Only the rush to get ready to leave is with me and a picture of the trip to their home through almost blinding snow. Dad went in advance along the trail, which extended through rather thick, tall timber, driving a little, dark horse hitched to one of those three-cornered snow plow contraptions with which every pioneer used to open trails and roadways. The thing was simply three heavy timbers fastened together with a pointed front end and a square back the width of the trail or roadway to be opened. I came next and mother last with sister riding "piggyback." The snow seemed to stretch away from the trail into the timber at just about the level of my father's shoulders. I remember that when we went there again after the storm had passed and that I could not see over the snow's edge beside the trail.
     The winter of 1898-99 is another that lingers with me most unpleasantly. The snow came early and lingered into March of the following year. The first thing that comes back to me poignantly was the lingering illness of our Uncle Mark, my father's only brother, and the great difficulty of keeping fuel on hand for the little black heater that stood in his room. By this time we were four children, three of us old enough to assist a little with the chores. The constant battle to keep the paths open to the out buildings is still a very accurate memory. Uncle Mark's death in early December was a shock to we children. Dad and Mother had been away on some unavoidable errand for the most part of the day. Like every child, we loved to play in the snow. We had so much fun that afternoon that we forgot to take care of the fire in the Uncle Mark's room as we had been directed to do. It was dusk before we remembered and the room was very cold. We had trouble starting the fire and we noticed that Uncle Mark didn't answer us when we asked if he were cold. For a long time we thought he had died because we let the fire go out. We were a pair of the extremely chastened little girls for some time thereafter.
     Also, that was our first winter without the great fireplace before which we had passed so many pleasant winter evenings. In the manner of many pioneer homes, the old fireplace was in the middle of the house, with two faces, and built of the natural grey rocks that abounds here. It was a huge thing that would hold several sticks of four-foot wood. There were two swinging arms that could be turned out of the fire when no big iron kettles were steaming there, which afforded a wonderful place on which to dry boots and other outdoor clothing. Almost every evening, we sat on a big black bear rug and popped corn or roasted apples over the lovely red coals that glowed there. Sometimes we were told tales of the other days and others we listened to someone read Grimes fairy tales. Added living space had demanded its removal. We missed that old fireplace and couldn't adjust ourselves to other activities to fill the time once passed so pleasantly before it's great, cheerful mouth.
     On January 1, 1899, there was a blanket of approximately 12" of snow and the mercury was sliding downward. Daytime would sometimes push it up to the "more snow point." My youngest brother was born January 6, 1899. I think old Dock Stork must have frosted this toes that night, for the thermometer registered 19 below zero with the snow at about four feet. During the next 20 days, the temperature range from 14 to 20 below continuously. Making the conditions more difficult in our house, all of us were entertaining a nice little case of mumps, even our dad joined the agony. And I guess it was real agony with him. He seemed to feel worse than all the rest of us together. Poor mother, with a tiny baby in hand, must have had about all she could take.

(To Be Continued)

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer