The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., March 25, 1949, page 1
Includes photograph titled: There were frozen jets of water protruding from the Pacific Power & Light company's pipeline along Hood River, but this shot wasn't taken this last winter. It was taken in January of 1916 when Mrs. Arlene Whinchell Moore recalls, in an accompanying article, that a section of pipeline was swept away. There was five feet of snow that winter and the Mt. Hood Railroad company could not open its tracks until March.

By Arline Whinchell Moore.

     Ed. Note: This is the third and concluding article on 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 was another winter in the 90's which I cannot fix as to exact date. There were days and days of alternate snow and rain finally settling into a steady fall of the beautiful white that topped off with an ice storm. When clear, freezing weather took over, the snow was above our cabin windowsills and everything was coated with thick ice. Believe it or not, the horses and cattle could walk on the crusted snow without any danger of breaking through. For some reason, the animals had all been released from their stalls and finding that the corral gates blocked open, wandered out onto the crusted snow. Weeks of standing in stalls had filled them with a wild desire to run and play. Standing on a big box with my nose a flat against a window, I was scandalized to see our usually staid old nags chasing each other here and there, skidding around on the ice-covered snow with all the abandon of playing youngsters. Soon, in trying to avoid the nipping teeth of a little bay gelding, a big gray mare lost her footing and skidded into a deep, narrow path that had been cleared from the house to the barn, where she landed on her back, unable to shift their feet under her. Not the highstrung, nervous type, after one or two futile attempts to extricate herself, she simply lay still and waited to be helped out. It took a fancy bit of engineering to get her out of that narrow place. It seemed to my eagerly watching eyes that ropes were stretched from nearly every tree in sight and attached at angles to the downed animal. There was a long rope leading from her to a team of horses near the barn yard fence, when the snow had been kept clear, so the animals could get to water. When they were started up for the pull she eased out of her tight quarters on to the open snow with no difficulty. She lost all desire to run and play over its treacherous surface. In fact, she simply refused to stand on her own feet and had to slide over the snow to the safety of the barn yard, where she arrived minus a few patches of hide, but otherwise unhurt by her mishap.
     My Uncle Clarence Knapp, did a great deal of hauling with four and six horse teams in those days. As soon as the weather cleared the calls were coming in from the outlying districts for food and other necessities to aid the marooned settlers. I remember listening to him describe taking a four-horse load of provisions out into the Trout Lake country. To get there he had driven over the frozen Columbia. Our Uncle Clarence had a particularly delightful way of detailing his doings and we children enjoyed him to an nth degree. No matter how dangerous or difficult his mission, his happy temperament always found something in it to laugh and joke about.
     The winter of 1915-16 was very similar to the one we have just experienced. There was one noticeable difference. The ground froze before the snowfall as in this winter, perhaps not as much, however. When the snow melted there was no sheet of ice left on the ground as has been the case this winter. That winter, winter began early in November with a little snow and a lot of rain and kept up more or less precipitation every day throughout the month of November. Soon after the first of December the fall increased to flood proportions. The old wooden bridge structure over Hood river, east of town, was washed out about the middle of December and the traffic into town had to be routed by way of Tucker bridge. Soon after this mishap, a large section of the Pacific Power & Light company pipeline was swept away. Crews set about replacing this loss at once. On New Year's Day, while they were completing their job the temperature, which had been below freezing several days, began to drop rapidly. There had been no interruption in the electrical service due to the plant tie in or synchronization of all P.P. & L. owned plants and the local plant had been out less than two weeks.
     Cold east winds and below freezing temperatures prevailed the entire month of January. The last few days of the month the weather warmed sufficiently to permit snowfall. When the snow was over there was a five-foot blanket of snow in the open fields and drifted places where much deeper than that.
     My husband was relief operator at the old power plant that winter, and we lived in one of the company's construction camp buildings, which were being held until war conditions settled in Europe and they could continue with the construction of the present power plant. The Mt. Hood Railroad was the only way into the power plant in those days. They were unable to clear their tracts for operation until sometime in March of 1916.
     The winter of 1919-20 was the granddaddy of all winters in this county. My youngest daughter was born on October 20, 1919. There had been snow to show on the ground three times before her birth. An east wind was blowing and the ground was freezing when I went to the hospital on the evening of the 19th. Snow was just beginning to sift down. By morning there was six inches of snow, which turned to rain during the day and soon disappeared. Snow fell several times between October 20 and Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day a real blizzards set in. When the skies cleared there was between three and four feet of snow, then we had about ten days of below zero weather. The temperature on our east porch registered 37 below zero on the coldest night. Nearly all water service in town froze. We had no water at our place for more than six weeks. The windows were a sheet of ice that never melted off during the day. I thought my baby would surely freeze to death. As is always the case when a hard winter hits, fuel was short and was rationed to us. One day I looked at my baby and found her little hands blue. Frantically checking, I thought she seemed cold all over. Scared nearly out of my wits I called Max and insisted something had to be done about the fuel situation at our house. In a short while he showed up with a couple of those old-time coal-oil heaters, a little electric heater, two hot water bottles and a sack of coal, and a strong opinion that we should be able to manage with that. We did. We were reasonably comfortable thereafter. That winter nearly ruined the fruit industry in our valley. Many orchards showed the effects of the freeze for many years later.
     The winter of 1921 was another most people living here at that time will remember. The Columbia river highway was blocked from Thanksgiving into early spring. Road equipment of those days wasn't what we have these days. Mother Nature had to clean up most of the bad messes she made when she went into one of her temperamental rampages.
     My brother had just been discharged from six years of Marine Corp service, the last four of which had been spent in the islands of the Pacific. He had come to Hood River with a nostalgic yearning for the green hills, apple blossoms, swimming holes, fishing, etc. Clad in the light clothing of the tropics, which he stubbornly refused to change, and with his blood thinned by four years in warm climates, he was just about the most miserable man in the whole valley. He was so disgusted that we never have been able to get him back to this land of his birth, except for a couple of duty calls.
     There are probably other winters in the past of the equal severity which no particular incident has tied to my memory, or ones earlier than my time of which I have never heard the story. It seems to me, as I review the winters of my youth, that we always had some snow, and there was always water running at full speed brim to the top of every creek and otherwise "dry runs" whenever the spring "runoff" came. We did often have earlier springs. Many times we, as children, have gathered the bluebells in January and February. I think that most old-timers will agree that the very mild winters of these later years are the unusual rather than the rule for this Northwest country.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer