The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., January 7, 1904, page 2
HOOD RIVER AND ITS FRUITS
Capt. J.P. Shaw in Polk Directory.
Our Valley's rife with rural life
Greet you where ere you go
Our cherries ripe, your lips invite,
And big red apples grow.
Hood River valley is a gem all by itself. It lies in
the northwestern part of Wasco county, 23 miles west of The Dalles, the county
seat, and 66 miles east of Portland, on the line of the O.R. & N., the
valley extending to the Columbia river on the north.
This valley has an elevation of 200 feet at its northern terminus, and 1800 feet in the upper or southern part. Its width from east to west, is from five to eight miles, and from north to south, 20 miles. The tillable land will reach 50,000 acres, about one-fourth of which is in cultivation. The surface is generally rolling, the elevated portions being considered the strongest soil.
The valley lies picturesquely environed between the two mountain ranges that reach a general elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level. These ranges are spurs of the Cascades, which are fringed with fir and pine that present a pleasing background.
Mount Hood, snow-crowned and ever beautiful, forms an impassible barrier to the valley's further progress to the south, while the mighty Columbia stops its further extension to the north.
Hood river, a tortuous and ever restless stream, its icy waters flowing from glacial caves from under Mount Hood, divides the valley into East and West divisions. That portion lying east of the river being considered best adapted to the growth of the apple, while the West Side is devoted to the raising the far-famed Hood River strawberries. The soil of this side of the river is composed of volcanic ash, thoroughly impregnated with iron oxides and mixed with a large percentage of decomposed sandstone. When water is once applied to the soil of this nature, the fruits grown upon it are as nearly perfect as can be raised in temperate zones. Water for irrigation purposes brought into the valley by ditches and flumes, the water being taken out of Hood river, supplying the ranchers with water through lateral flumes. The soil on the East Side is somewhat varied in characteristics, being of a more clayey nature in some parts, while in other sections the same decomposed granite and volcanic ash is met with, giving to fruits raised here their superior flavor, color and shipping qualities.
It is not alone the chemical elements the soil of this section contains that give superiority to fruits grown upon it, but the climate as well. Clear skies overhead and balmy air just when the fruits are ripening perform no small part in giving to the world the finest apples that grow. The red in a Hood River apple is a deeper red, and the yellow on a Newton is a richer golden color than is found elsewhere. Rub your hand over a Hood River apple, and you obtain a varnish like appearance to the skin that is marvelous.
Nowhere else has there been a spot of earth found where the apple, cherry and strawberry are grown that can approach the matchless size, flavor and color of these fruits as sent out over the country from Hood River.
The climate of this little paradise is all that the most critical could wish. Here are no cyclones to carry away our houses, neither do the rigors of winter nor the shifting extremes of summer prevail. The air comes laden from the mountains with the sweet smelling fragrance of the fir and pine, giving health to the inhabitants as it spreads over the valley.
While this is not a damp climate, the precipitation is sufficient for most purposes. The weather bureau report for last year, 1902, was 41 inches.
Fine fir timber abounds in the upper valley, sufficient to supply the meeds of the inhabitants for many years to come. Gushing springs come from the foothills supplying the deliciously clear, cool water; this is especially true of the upper valley. Here too, the soil is of the very best, and some of the best apples come from around the base of Mount Hood. Unimproved lands in the upper valley sell today at prices ranging from $12 to $25 per acre, while improved ranches in the lower valley, that are planted to fruits and partially or wholly in bearing, command good prices, ranging up to $400 per acre.
Hood River shipped this season 190 carloads of strawberries that averaged to the grower $1.65 per crate. An acre will yield, when properly cultivated, as much as 200 crates of berries. The cost per crate for cultivation is recommended at 80 cents.
Apples do much better. A seven-year-old tree will yield from three to five boxes of merchantable fruit, and at nine years as much as 20 boxes. There are orchards in the valley they yield 25 boxes per tree this season. Eighty trees are generally planted to the acre. A 10-acre tract, therefore, will have 800 trees, and at seven years old will yield three boxes to the tree or 2,200 boxes, and at eight years five boxes to the tree or 4,000 boxes. At nine years old, these same trees, if they have been well cared for, can reasonably be expected to give to the fortunate owner from 8,000 to 16,000 boxes of apples. If they are of the leading varieties they will sell for $1.50 per box. The entire crop of Newtons and Spitzenbergs of this season's crop sold at $2 to $2.10, while the growers got 85 cents for their Ben Davises.
Hood River Metropolis
The city of Hood River is a picturesque little town of
1400 inhabitants. It lies nestled along the south bank of the matchless Columbia
river, on the line of the Oregon Railroad & Navigation company, 66 miles
east of Portland, at a point on the west bank of Hood river where that turbulent
stream empties its waters into the Columbia.
The river itself is a marvel of wonder and beauty from its source to where it mingles its crystal waters with those of the Columbia, and together they flow peacefully on to the sea.
The city is regularly laid out; has wide streets that are lined with oak trees - a species of that tree peculiar to the Pacific coast - and their wide spreading branches, under whose ample and inviting foliage restful moments may be enjoyed on a summer day. On the south is a rise of 200 feet. Fringed along the gently sloping sides of the hill and facing the city and the Columbia, are groves of small oaks and pine, and hidden away among these are some of Hood River's beautiful homes.
To the north, across the Columbia river, in the state of Washington, stands Mount Adams, resplendent in its beauty of perpetual snow, its hoary head piercing the sky at an elevation of 12,240 feet above sea level. Just at the foot of the city, its waters flowing westerly, is the broad expanse of the Columbia, its busy mart of steam and sail passing in panoramic view before the beholder. This might flow of water is one and one-half miles wide at this point.
Dwellings with well kept lawns fill up the resident part of the city. Churches conveniently located are a part of the moral force of the community.
Good school buildings are here and an opera house of ample size to accommodate theater doers occupies a prominent corner. Nearly all classes of business and trades are represented. Substantial business blocks of brick and wood are a part of the improvements to be seen in progress.
The Hood River Glacier, a clean, newsy journal of eight pages, furnishes the news to its subscribers weekly; a modern canning establishment handles the surplus fruit; a large lumbering plant with a capacity of 200,000 feet of lumber per day, as well as many smaller concerns, furnish labor for a large number of people.
Hood River is the home of the pomologist. Here many of the large apple and berry growers live, their orchards and berry fields bringing to them wealth and contentment. As a health resort and place for a summer outing, Hood River is fast coming into favor. It can be reached from Portland in a couple of hours either by rail, or on one of the river steamers.
In the prosperous years to come, Hood River is destined to be a much larger city. What it sorely needs just now is a modern hotel, and capital to build and equip an electrical railway into the valley. Water for power and building material for construction are in abundance.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer