Boom town times

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

In the early days that Dad was here, Orient was a roaring boom town. The railroad had intended for the town to be at Dulwich, this side of there, and installed their water tank there. Dulwich would have been a good townsite — a quite large reasonably flat area above the tracks and enough slope to give it natural drainage. However, it got no development other than the Railway Section House — the loading and unloading corrals for cattle and sheep and a large area for decking out logs, cedar telephone poles and hewed railroad ties. All of those things are gone now. The water tank disappeared with the steam locomotive — timber products are largely hauled by truck, and so far as I know, there is no longer any market for hewed ties. The Section House was bought by a farmer and moved above the highway and lived in for a while; it still, stands. The corrals rotted down as they ceased to be used and are also gone.

Dulwich is noteworthy in that for a number of years it was Dad’s destination each morning, six days a week, to work at least ten hours — at the beginning I think it was twelve — as a railway section hand. The crew pumped their way up or down the tracks on lever-driven handcars. After walking between three and four miles each way and putting in a long day, he rarely saw his home by daylight except on Sunday. He and Mom got up by the light of a dim kerosene lamp. He ate the meal of pancakes, eggs and salty bacon that Mom prepared him, grabbed the ten pound lard bucket that held his lunch and went off — sometimes at a run — to reach the section house before the official workday started. The eight-hour day did not come in till World War 1. The government took over the railroads at that time. Many times in winter, he must have had to wade deep snow most of the way and high top rubber boots were not available then, even if he had considered them cheap enough to wear. I don’t know what he wore at that time, though I know that in later life he sometimes wrapped his legs in thick layers of gunnysacks.

During World War I and after, Dad and my brothers wore Oxford high rubber slippers and felt boots which usually cracked around the ankle, or heavy ‘German socks’, pulled up to the knee and more or less held in place by a tape garter at the top. Dad prided himself on being tough. He seldom wore gloves to work with — they were always wet. He said gloves were all right for walking or riding. He would seldom button a coat if he was moving around — it was too restrictive — and he kept warm by moving and with a specific job before him, he moved fast. Very impatient by nature, as a father he tended to interfere too quickly if one of his children seemed too inept at a job. And as far as I was concerned, he was like his Dad, a little too much inclined to worry about what someone else might think.

Downtown Orient, back when

A rare family visit

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Uncle Charlie drove out here with his family in 1916, or thereabouts. I have previously calculated that I was three years old at the time. The only thing about it that I clearly remember was seeing Mom and Aunt Ida crying over each other in the old log kitchen. I understand he brought his car up the hill before he left, and I suppose it was the first one I ever saw, though if I remember it at all my memory seems to indicate that it came up the hill along the present road and I doubt if that road was in existence at the time. The visit was more or less blighted by the fact that Cousin Laura had incipient malaria when she left home, came down with it after she got here, and accordingly spent most of her stay here in the Marcus hospital.

Highways and byways

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The first highway was coated with loose gravel and graders were kept going all the time to keep it smooth. As for the old county road, up until a few years ago, Sunoco Motor Oil signs were still sticking to the trees. And many a gas buggy loaded with Canadian hooch or moonshine traveled it. In the Sand Cuts, this side of Barstow, it ran so close to the river that in high water, it was impassible. A few cars took a chance and drove through on the railroad track.

There was a bypass road of sorts that I remember traveling higher up one time with Dad and a team and wagon, on what was called the Charlie Anderson road. As I remember it, we were taking an old stove and some household goods to Uncle John’s (then Evert Sailor’s) so that Vera and Elva could camp out there one winter while taking some high school subjects at Barstow. At any rate, I remember that the horses had to drag the wagon across muddy ditches in several places. It doesn’t sound just right, so we may have been bringing the stuff home instead.

In the very early days, Dad took a wheeled vehicle through high in the mountains along what was little more than a trail. A lot of traveling and transportation was done afoot. Dad once carried the essential parts of a grindstone all the way from Marcus. A neighbor pretty thoroughly ruined the stone using it almost immediately afterward.

The first highway bridge across the Columbia was built in the late 1920’s — a very good steel arch with no top trusses — only side rails. The construction of Coulee Dam necessitated it being replaced. It was just below the present bridge. The Marcus railway bridge was planked over and used briefly for a toll bridge. Mostly people had to depend on cable ferries that were installed at various places from Northport south. Some tragic accidents occurred in connection with them. The story that Uncle Charlie Lehman told of his experience with Bonner’s Ferry on his trip back to Oklahoma from here was unusual but very graphic: He arrived at the ferry which gave the town its name in his Willys-Overland touring car (the ads used to say, “She didn’t have an Overland or anything and now she has an Overland ‘n’ everything!) in the middle of a hot dry spell. The ferry, riding high in the water and little used, had over-expanded upper seams. It was safe enough for one car but just as it was about to shove off with Charlie’s Overland, a heavy Buick drove up and wanted to be taken, too. The ferryman unwisely loaded on the second car and started across. The water started spilling through the open seams, and they just managed to get to the other side. The ferry sank, but grounded in the shallows near the apron. Charlie and the other motorist filled in the gap with some old timbers and drove off without bothering to pay their ferry fee.

Working the stumpy land

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The official survey lines of Granddad’s place took in a portion of the land Dad had cleared and also the route of the present road up the hill, 365 total acres. The present road was built during my childhood, and has been repaired and modified many times since then. My brothers did most of the original work. Trees were felled sidewise of the hill and then worked down against other trees and stumps. Then with grub hoes, picks, shovels and crowbars, earth and rocks were worked out of the steep hillside to cover the fallen trees and make a narrow wagon track. Numerous slides came down over the years and had to be shoveled out.

A man named Bill Little made some alterations and blasted some stumps so that he could better use the road for hauling cedar poles. Later, the log cribbing was burnt out and additional work had to be done to make the road usable. In the past twenty years or so the county has graded the road around twice a year. I myself have spent $150 for bulldozer work on the road, and have done a great deal of horse, tractor and hand labor on it. It is still steep but has a fairly uniform grade and is very wide for a mountain road. If it were abandoned for a few years, it would become impassable. At the moment, it has slide in it which would have filled the original road.

Dad’s first road up the hill followed a canyon bottom higher up, crossed a low ridge and followed a short grade and finally came out on the ridge below where the Old house stands. A log barn stood there up till a time of my recollection.

The first road down Boulder Creek was built in the same way as my present road except that there was a little more community action

Except for the times when Dad went away to find employment, he lived mostly making railroad ties with a chopping axe and broadaxe. In those days, they had to be only semi-peeled — one year they did not have to be peeled at all. The Great Northern was condemned one year and afterward, for a while, they bought anything that looked remotely like a tie stick,’ Dad hauled some of his ties down to the steep hill where he packed the stove up and shot them down to the railroad truck. When they needed them bad enough, they would pick them up anyplace. Later, they had to be piled neatly at specified landings. Most of Dad’s ties, I think, were piled out at what we called the Log Landing spur at the Roy Hatch Canyon road which goes down through what is now the Lakin place.

For some reason, Dad early quit using the old tie camp road, probably because the Roy Hatch Canyon road was used the most and accordingly the most likely to be open. Somewhere along the line, the county got around and built a road of sorts up the Columbia and Kettle rivers from Marcus Ferry. It was a very narrow winding and rough road, but a lot of early day automobiles traveled it from 1918 until the middle twenties when the first graveled highway was constructed.

[Note: I don’t think l have made quite clear, the location of the Tie Camp Road. It goes down about midway the length of Granddad’s Montie’s) flat. It then turns into the draw farthest to the right through the A. J. Hatch homestead to a point above the railroad, where it eventually hooked into the old County road. A. J. and his son Hiram fenced off the upper part of their place for cow pasture and installed gates which discouraged further use. For those who are not aware, Hiram Hatch was married to Aunt Kate’s sister Carrie.]