93 walkers was not a great turnout, but we were severely hampered by a dire weather prediction which really didn’t pan out. There were some excellent Fall colors and a few Halloween themed decorations and we received compliments on the route.
pictures: Carol Jensen
This walk was held once before in 2001 in the Spring. For what was seen then, see http://www.allweatherwalkers.org/phv.htm
The following brief history of prunes on Prune Hill was developed thanks to material originally found by Grant and Iona Flagan for the 2001 walk (and thanks to Jill McLean for preserving it), the History of Clark County published by the Columbian, and a few web sites I researched:
Come up on the Hill and get a little good fresh air. Cast your eye, if you will, on the apple or the pear. Even the birds will welcome you with their merry whistled tunes, and before you leave the Hill I’ll bet you are full of prunes.
In a good year,
more than 15 million pounds of dried prunes were shipped from
If the prunes were extra sweet the dryer tracks became so sticky that a tractor had to be hooked up to winches to pull the prunes through the dryer, a 24 hour process. Dryers were fueled by wood, which involved many workers to cut and supply the dryer. Later, dryers were fueled by oil.
The Thomas Gilliheen family in front of their prune dryer in Fisher’s
earn $25.00 to $30.00
a season plus a bonus of 1/2 cent a box if they worked the entire season.
Arthur Hidden planted the first prune orchard in
1887: A. Cook and Son received orders for 10,000 prune trees.
A dozen chimneys
vented the heat from the Blair prune dryer as workers posed in this 1890’s
Company was one of two prune-packing plants constructed in Vancouver in 1901, following
agitation by growers for better packing and marketing conditions. The company
employed about 60 persons, mostly women, in 1901. This plant and Porter Bros.
plant packed 40 tons of prunes daily. Low 1901 prices, 4 cents a pound, curbed
the enthusiasm of the plant operators.
September 30, 1901
The prunes are received in sacks on the first floor, weighed and thrown into a bin.
They are carried by a steam run prune carrier to the third floor where they are run through a grader and steam processor. On to the second floor where women pack two layers of prunes in boxes. Men take the boxes and nail on covers and take them back to the first floor where the boxes are labeled and shipped
Prune Day at the
Fair. Each visitor is given a little
basket of choice prunes.
Dec. 17, 1910 There are about
5,000 acres of prunes in
October 11, 1911:
President William Howard
Taft spoke for ten minutes at the Vancouver Railroad station. He was given two
boxes of choice
In 1916 the humble prune was “King” and
February 2, 1916
severe “silver thaw” severely
prune trees and the industry never fully recovered.
1916: Prune pickers lived in tents, “Bachelor’s
all”, during the four to five weeks of harvest and drying.
In 1919, the Prunarians were organized. This group of
September 1926: Three day “Prune Festival”
Crowning of the Queen of Prunaria
By 1929, these
decreased prune sales:
1. Refrigeration in transportation.
3. Nature problems with growing and poor farming methods here, blight and over plowing under trees.
1930’s & 1940’s prune orchards and dryers became almost extinct in