The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., June 8, 1923, page 7
SOM EARLY PINE GROVE HISTORY
(By Marieta Moore, Prize Winner)
Along, about the middle of the 19th Century we find the
red man of America lying lazily around, or perhaps hunting in the forests
of the beautiful Hood River Valley in the Far West.
They were not a treacherous tribe, but friendly and kind, except that they once in awhile stole something to eat. They were known as the Warm Spring Indians.
H.S. Neal was the first settler that came to the Pine Grove region. A few years later, Hans Lage, C. Hoke, Peter Mohr, Captain Jackson, Mr. Corum, Mr. Turner and Dave Diver came to the valley and made homes. Mr. Neal built his home where Mrs. C.T. Roberts now lives.
In the fall Mr. Neal built a sawmill. They experienced a very severe winter, lots of rain and snow. In the spring, when things began to thaw and loosen up, they had such a large overflow of water that it washed his mill out. He built another sawmill in the summer and part of it may still be seen southwest of Mr. Roberts' house.
All of the settlers lived in log houses built by themselves and sometimes their neighbors would help them. Out of all the log houses that were built, there is only one left that I know of, and that is the one Peter Mohr lived in.
The settlers got all of their provisions in The Dalles until they began to have stores in this locality. Mr. Neal and some other settlers made a trip to The Dalles on some snow shoes for provisions, because there was so much snow and ice that it was impossible for them to drive oxen. They made hand sleds and drew their provisions back on the Columbia River.
In 1878, the settlers of Pine Grove killed 84 bears. One day, about noon Mr. Lage killed a deer right in front of his house. When he came to Pine Grove he brought with him a few ducks. He had been here only one winter, when along in the early part of the spring the ducks were missing. He hunted for them awhile but finally gave up all hopes of ever finding them again, supposing the coyotes had caught them. But a man by the name of Neal saved the day. He was going to The Dalles, and when passing by the place owned by Mr. Blackman, he saw them swimming on a pond back of the house. They proved to be Mr. Lage's lost ducks and some little ducks had been added to the number.
Along with the settlers came the roads, but they did not have the roads that we now have. As the first settlers came in they would cut down trees enough so that they would barely have room enough to go through with a wagon and horses. Along the roads, the stumps would stick up and most of the roads were merely paths made through the forest by the Indians. The roads were almost anywhere one would happen to find them. To show the improvements in our roads a person may think of the Columbia River highway and also the Loop Road that is now being made.
After quite a number of settlers had arrived and there were children of school age, they began to plan for a school house so that the children could go to school. The first school was at Lenz station. This school was not in the Pine Grove district, but all of the children east of the river attended school there. A man and his wife lived there during the school period. The man taught the school, and his wife cared for the house. The first grade children walked four or five miles one way, while the high school students of today ride both ways and are two times or more older. The next school house they built was a log house between Mr. Lage's and Mr. Dragseth's. They used it for a number of years, then later built the one back of M. McDonald's. Mr. Howe was the first teacher in the log school house. Little Hugo Paasch used to take a nap every afternoon because he was so small and had quite a way to walk. Walter Wells also used to take a nap quite often. Sometimes the children would bring their dogs to school with them. One day a boy was looking down through the cracks in the floor and when asked what he was looking at, said "Grouse, grouse." Sure enough, there was a mother with her young ones. One warm day the superintendent visited the school. He fell asleep in his chair, leaned his head against the wall, and when he awoke his hair was stuck fast to the pitch from the wood. Mr. Winchell gave the land for the school ground that we have at the present time. After quite a number of years they built a two-room school, and then, later on, they added another story, and this is the one we go to school in now.
The name "Pine Grove" was suggested because of the grove of pine trees in which the school was located.
On the land which Mr. Winchell donated, the board of trustees planned to build the church where it now stands. Dave Diver gave $1000 towards it, and different members helped with the building. Before that they used the little white school house just back of Mr. McDonald's. The first minister was the Rev. Mr. Clark.
Mr. Winchell also gave the land for a cemetery, and the first funeral was held somewhere in the seventies. They floated the body down the river on rafts, and it was drawn from Hood River by horses to the Pine Grove cemetery.
The first store was probably owned by Mr. Wilson, and later was bought over by Henry Lage. The next store was the one we now have, but it was owned by Johnson Bros. and Hale; later A.F. Bickford bought the store and still owns it.
The first commercial orchard in the Pine Grove section was owned by Sears and Porter, and they sold most of the apples at The Dalles.
They held an irrigation meeting in Mr. Lage's barn along about the first of the nineties, but they did not to get the water through the valley until 1898.
The railroad that goes by Van Horn and on into the Upper Valley was completed in 1905.
About three years after the railroad was completed the people of Pine Grove had the use of the telephone and electric lights.
Charley Bone owned the first automobile in the Pine Grove district.
After the settlers had been in the valley about ten years or more, one could see the gradual improvement of the land, until at last, after hard work and many backaches, we may look out upon the beautiful valley and see most of it in bearing fruit trees and fields of strawberries.
So, all through the history of Pine Grove you may see a gradual improvement in general and things are growing and prospering more all of the time.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer