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     HOOD RIVER, Or., Dec. l8. -- (Special.) -- Over two feet of snow, with the prospect of more, has caused many residents of Hood River to believe that weather conditions here are unprecedented, but Captain H.C. Coe, the oldest living pioneer in this section of the Columbia. River Basin, says "no."
     Captain Coe has been in the Hood River country since '54. With his brother, Eugene Coe, he formerly owned the entire townsite of Hood River and still has large property interests here. He was one of the pioneer steamboat men on both the Upper and Lower Columbia River and took an active part in the Indian wars in the '50's. He was one of the men who escaped death by a narrow margin in the Indian massacre at the Cascades in '72.
     "The way the current Winter started." said Captain Coe, "reminds rite very much of the Winter of '61-'62, the most severe in my experience. In the long and glorious Summers we enjoy, many people are apt to forget the cold and deep snowfalls of some of our Winters. There is no use, however, in dwelling on the other Winters as compared to '61-'62, and what has happened in the past may happen again. You never know what kind of a Winter you are going to have until it is past, and my advice is to prepare for the worst, and be glad if you are disappointed.
     "There was a legend that the Indians were fond of repeating, by way of consolation, a Winter many years ago, and previous to '62 by the way, when so much snow fell that it did not melt away the ensuing Summer. The legend narrates their horses all died, and many of the Indians, too, and that had it not been for a very plentiful run of salmon in the Spring all would have perished for want of food."
     "My first winter in Hood River, known then as Dog River, in 1854, was a delightful one. We had little snow and freezing weather in December. Early in February we gardened and did not a frost after that did any damage. The record-breaker for deep snows was seen in 1858, when the snow was five feet and one inch on the level, and not drifted. My complete record for that Winter is missing, but it was chiefly notable for the quantity of snow on the ground at one time, rather than for its cold or duration, for by the middle of February the ground was bare."
     But '62 was the hummer. It was a record-smasher of note, let me tell you. Snow fell on November 19, '61, and from that time until April 22 the ground was never entirely clear of it. November was a month of disaster. Fifteen days of snow and three of rain is the record. From November 4 to November 10 the rain came down in torrents. Hood River was full from bank to bank, four or five feet higher than it has ever been since. The Willamette Valley above Oregon City was transformed into a great lake. Steamboats navigated the country roads miles away from the channel, rescuing farmers who had taken refuge on house-tops and barns. Buildings of all descriptions came down the river, floated over the Oregon City Falls intact and on down past Portland to the Columbia River. The entire flat on the East Portland side of the Willamette, up to what is now known as Union avenue, was covered with wreckage and driftwood many feet deep. The snowfall during the month was 18 inches."
     In December it rained for 10 days and snowed for three, the snowfall measuring 19 inches. On December 6 the mercury went down to 22 degrees and never got above the freezing point until February 15. On January 16 the thermometer registered 24 degrees below zero and the average mean temperature for the month was 10.45 degrees. Seven feet of snow fell in January and the snowfall on the level was 4 feet 2 inches at one time. The Columbia River closed January 1 and navigation was not resumed until March 12. This was the year of the mining excitement in the Boise and Northern Idaho countries, and the casualties were many. Some six or eight persons were frozen to death between the John Day River and The Dalles, among them I.E. Jagger, son-in-law of R.R. Thompson, of Portland. Several people lost their lives between The Dalles and Portland and report had it that every house between these points housed from one to two persons badly frozen. But the mining craze was on and miners had made their way up from California and were not to be deterred by a snow storm and a little cold weather. Men, little prepared to withstand the rigors of an ordinary Winter, some without money and with but a single pair of blankets, rushed headlong into the frozen gorge of the Columbia. No vestige of road or trail was left to guide them in their struggles against the fierce gales and blinding snow."
    "At this period it was my fortune to have to make a trip to Portland. The steamer Idaho when down to the Cascades on New Year's day, making her last trip. The lower river was already closed, so Wells-Fargo's Messenger Jones, and myself took a small boat at the Cascades and made our way through the drift ice to the foot of the Sandy River, going in on foot from there to Portland, which we reached about 8 o'clock that night. On January 6 I started to return, and in company with Lew Day, the well-known express manager, noted for his pluck and endurance, we left Portland in a two-horse hack for the Sandy River, to which point, even at that time, there was a fairly good wagon road. We drove across the Willamette River on the ice and reached Joe Latourelle's after whom Latourelle Falls is named, in good season. On our way there we met George K. Knaggs, a well-known middle-river steamboat-man, and several others on their way to Portland. They were badly used up and tried to dissuade us from continuing any further up the river, but we forged ahead. At Latourelle we ran across 28 miners on their way to the Boise mines. That night it commenced to snow and by morning the fall was 12 inches deep and a bitter east wind was howling down the river.
     "Day and I soon left the miners behind and broke the trail the entire distance to the middle Cascades, where we were cordially welcomed by John Barnes, manager of the portage road, then operated on the south or Oregon side of the Columbia, but afterwards established on the north bank. Snow fell all that night and it was over two feet deep when we started out in the morning. A few miles above the Cascades we met Captain E.W. Baughman, E.F. Coe and Engineer John Girty, of the Upper Columbia River, and now living at The Dalles. They were bound for Portland, then, as now, the Mecca of the Northwest. Continuing, we got some bad falls picking our way round Shell Rock Mountain, then noted far and wide as the worst place on the route, but fortunately escaped serious injury.
     "When we reached Mitchell's Point, five miles below Hood River, that night, we were completely done up. Day gave out about a mile from our destination, and I thought it was all up with him, but after a rest he finally got to his feet and made we made our stopping place. The wind had blown a living gale all day, drifting and driving the snow all about us. We didn't know what minute we might step into a pitfall that would have put us out of business. We reached Hood River early the next morning, where the snow measured three feet on the level. In March we ran out of provisions and I made two trips to The Dalles on the ice, hauling back flour on handsleds.
     "Stock of all kinds died by the thousands, and it was commonly known that east of the Cascade Mountains not a hoof of range stock was left alive. A good many cattle died here in the valley. Jenkins & Benson lost in the neighborhood of 100 head and Pierce and Weatherwax, north of what is now the Belmont district, nearly as many more.
     "The ice in the Columbia froze to a great depth. At the foot of the rapids at the Cascades, Captain John McNulty, of the steamer Idaho, told me that it piled up fully 80 feet high, and at The Dalles I saw a 16-foot pole run down a crack its full length without touching water. On the March 21 we cut a trail through the snow and ice across Hood River and drove our cattle to the bare hills west of Mosier, where an abundance of grass remained, and our troubles were practically over for the worst Winter I have ever experienced in Oregon.
     "I hope, concluded Captain Coe, "that we never have another like it, but history, you know, repeats itself."

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer