Wednesday, July 10, 2024

1916 Rock Island Wreck

Photo by Harry Dean. University of Washington Special Collections. 

Written on back: here Harry was hurt in wreck- Rock Island, Wash. East of Wenatchee- Feb. 6- 1916.


 

Saturday, July 6, 2024

1974 Wenatchee Explosion Views

Photos courtesy of Dean Richardson.

Dean says:

"1974 train explosion from Badger Mountain Lookout - I accidentally left my camera at the lookout and my Grandfather Oscar Richardson took these photos when the explosion happened."




Hartline Co-op Added To Chain

From the Spokane "Chronicle."

July 22, 1931



Friday, July 5, 2024

Euro-American Resettlement Of The Hanford Site

 Euro-American Resettlement of the Hanford Site

(Lewis and Clark 1805 - Hanford Engineer Works 1943)

By J. C. Bard and J. B. Cox
With the Assistance of R. McClintock
Richland, Washington

4.1 Statement of Purpose

This is a historic context statement for the Euro-American resettlement of the U.S. Department of Energys 560 square-mile Hanford Site in southeastern Washington. It is a narrative of the themes, trends, and patterns of history for the time period beginning with the Lewis and Clark expedition (1805) and ending with the creation of the Hanford Engineer Works (HEW) in 1943.

Although the Hanford Site area lagged behind other areas of the Pacific Northwest in terms of the timing and magnitude of Euro-American settlement, the coalescence of transportation links (railroads), government and private incentives to promote land settlement, and both private and government sponsored reclamation projects culminated in a small-scale homesteading boom in the Hanford Site locality in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Once established, the small agricultural communities of Hanford, White Bluffs, Richland, and others continued their development until the establishment of HEW in 1943.

This context statement emphasizes the homestead/farming period since most of the historic archaeological remains at Hanford pertain to agricultural development and related activities in the overall resettlement of the Hanford Site. This context statement should facilitate the determination of significance and National Register eligibility of historic properties dating from 1805 to the creation of the Hanford Engineer Works in 1943. This context statement is intended to be a dynamic document that can and will be changed to reflect new knowledge or understandings.

4.2 Introduction

This context statement is about how non-Indian peoples, primarily Euro-Americans, resettled the Hanford region after the Indian occupants were dispossessed of their land and how these new settlers managed to impose Euro-American land use systems on this arid region. The Euro-American resettlement of the Hanford Site transformed the area into an agriculturally-oriented region, dependent on irrigation made possible by well-funded organizations and/or government, characterized by both widely scattered farmsteads and small thriving towns whose economies served the rural, agrarian population.

The Hanford Site was occupied by Indians for several thousand years and the local Indians, particularly Smohalla and the Wanapums, clung tenaciously to their land and native economy throughout the late 19th century and resisted white culture. The arrival of white explorers and fur trappers, and the later arrival of Euro-American settlers (ranchers, farmers, etc.) can be viewed in terms of resettlement of an already occupied and settled land.

Explorations were designed to identify resources to be exploited, transportation routes to link the United States with Oregon, and to find a railroad route to Puget Sound and to identify potential farm or grazing lands. At the Hanford Site, the period of initial contact did not result in any significant settlement. In fact, with the exception of some exploration (Lewis and Clark and fur traders), trading posts, missions, and related developments occurred outside the boundaries of the Hanford Site. The fur traders and their sponsoring companies reluctantly contributed to regional exploration but their main focus was to keep out competitors.

Explorers noted Hanfords extreme aridity in comparison to other more favorable areas and the fur trappers likewise appreciated how local aridity provided poor habitat for fur-bearing animals. Stockmen concentrated on areas peripheral to the Hanford Site where more moisture and better soil conditions provided better bunch-grass grazing opportunities. Similarly, farmers migrating west to find suitable land bypassed Hanford for better watered locales such as the Walla Walla and Yakima River valleys. Only large, well-financed entities such as the Federal government and railroads provided the high levels of technological innovation, transportation and irrigation systems infrastructure, required to open up Hanford to agricultural development.

Resettlement of the Columbia Plateau began slowly, prior to the Civil War, within the larger context of the territorial expansion of the United States. While the Indians were intensively using the Columbia Rivers fish resources as a mainstay of their economy, Euro-American explorers were searching for lands capable of providing a variety of resources that could be developed for grazing, farming, and mining. Through time, Euro-American resettlement at Hanford was characterized by intensification of resource exploitation coupled with high levels of technological input. The indigenous peoples of the Hanford area did little to modify the environment in which they lived. Euro-American resettlement was characterized by deliberate environmental modification through the construction of dams, irrigation works, and the introduction of and large scale cultivation of non-native species.

Euro-Americans brought with them their own concepts of land ownership which were quite different than the native conceptions. Division of land and individual ownership were hallmarks of Euro-American settlement that redefined the landscape to fit their ideals and needs. The farmers and later, the railroads, were responsible for massive land reorganization and ownership patterns.

While most of the Euro-American settlers came to Hanford to pursue their individual or family goals, their movement into the Hanford area reflected the broad pattern of national expansion that was underpinned by such dominant cultural precepts as manifest destiny and the right to extinguish Indian title and transform the land. The Indians, whose land they were resettling, were seen as an impediment to such development.

The livestock industry was stimulated by mining booms in nearby areas and evolved from raising horses to beef cattle and eventually to sheep grazing. Later, stock raising was more diversified and meat and wool products were exported to a broader customer base. The decline of the livestock industry was partially fostered by the railroad companies who promoted and sold lands to farmers/settlers, thereby hastening the end of the open range. Stimulated by the railroad companies that promoted good land at reasonable prices and efficient transportation of goods to market, various agricultural endeavors could be undertaken in the Hanford area. It was also the railroads that had the money and organizational power to develop irrigation ventures that enhanced their ability to sell land to farmers and to ensure those farmers would succeed (and become good paying customers of the railroad). The legislative backdrop that stimulated agricultural development (e.g., various Federal land use laws, homesteading acts, and reclamation acts) is interlinked with the availability of transportation (railroads) and technological mastery of regional aridity (irrigation systems).

It was not until about 1900 that the necessary transportation and water management infrastructure and enabling legislation coalesced to the point that Euro-American resettlement of the Hanford Site could begin in earnest. These same Euro-Americans who took over control of the former Indian lands, were themselves displaced by the same government that displaced the Indians. The ranches and farms were seized by the Federal government in 1943 to create a reservation for the production of plutonium (the HEW) and the residents were bought out by the government and evacuated from the area.

4.3 The Setting

4.3.1 The Natural Setting

The Hanford Site is located in the Great Columbia Plain which is an open, semi-arid sagebrush country whose shrub-steppe landscape is the result of the interaction of climate with geology and physiography. Meinig (1968: 16) noted that the chief characteristic of the climate is its relatively low precipitation; the seasonal cycle is one of cool, moderately rainy and snowy winters, wet springs, hot, dry summers, and predominantly dry autumns. The demography and economy of this area has always been profoundly effected by topography, climate and drainage (cf. Nelson 1973: 372) and the seasonally and geographically restricted supply of surface water. In some areas it is possible to travel from a semiarid biotic community subsisting on less than 10 inches of rainfall to pine/fir forests subsisting on more than 30 inches of rainfall over a distance of 10 miles or less. Low temperatures and snow severely limited the distribution of Indian populations during the winter months from October to March and although most of the Columbia Plateau lies only between 1000 and 1500 feet above sea level, winters are severe with temperatures dropping below freezing in all but the most sheltered areas. The regions general aridity and climatic conditions played a large role in the resettlement of the Hanford Site by Euro-Americans.

4.3.2 The Human Setting

As explained in the Contact Period context statement, the Hanford Site was home to several Indian groups. Primarily as a result of disease, their numbers were increasingly reduced through the early decades of the 19th century and by the time they ceded their lands to the government at the Treaty Council of 1855, the Indians were well aware of the coming onslaught of white settlement. Although the early waves of settlers were primarily bound for Oregons Willamette Valley, in the later decades of the 19th century, cattlemen, sheepherders, and dryland farmers overran their lands and effectively marginalized those Indians still not taking refuge on the reservations. For their part, the Euro-Americans were motivated by a desire to improve their economic future. They traveled through the area on their way to the Willamette Valley to claim agricultural land and enjoy a healthier (non-malarial) climate than that being left behind in the Mississippi and Missouri river basins.

Once the Hanford Site area was resettled by Euro-Americans, it became quickly apparent that the natural environment provided ongoing challenges to agricultural development. Farmers were bothered particularly by animals who preyed upon their crops and poultry. Local farmers organized community drives to kill jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, crows, hawks, magpies, coyotes, and pocket gophers (Parker 1979: 178). It was not unusual for several thousand rabbits or birds to be killed in a single drive. In the 1940s, however, the large influx of population to the Hanford neighborhood brought so many sport hunters that the numbers of troublesome animals was kept down, and the need for drives ended (Parker 1979: 183, 260; Harris 1972: 145-46; Parker 1986: 160-61). Another natural challenge was the fierce dust storms that affected all residents. Perhaps the worst wind and dust storm in local memories occurred in June 1937, when packing sheds blew down and electrical wires became tangled from Yakima to Pendleton, Oregon (Parker 1986: 322-28). The greatest challenge, of course, was water. It was not until large-scale irrigation (reclamation) efforts were mobilized that the Euro-American settlers and farmers could successfully transform the land into an agriculturally productive area.

4.4 Statement of Historic Context

4.4.1 Introduction

The resettlement of the Hanford Site area occurred slowly at first. Non-Indian activities in the vicinity consisted primarily of exploration efforts, fur trapping and trading, missionary work among the Indians, and emigrants pushing through the region on their way to Oregon. Stimulated in part by gold rushes to the north, the Hanford Site vicinity began to be transformed by cattle ranching and later by the arrival of the railroad.

Although a small stream of settlers were entering the area and attempting to farm along the banks of the rivers and streams, it was railroad companies that promoted land sales and helped organize large-scale irrigation programs that greatly facilitated permanent resettlement by Euro-American farmers and homesteaders. Thus, while settlers were attracted to the Willamette Valley where fertile land and a temperate climate combined with generous homesteading act provisions awaited those willing to make the journey, the relatively arid land and dry climate of the Hanford Site vicinity could not readily support Euro-American resettlement without large inputs of technology - transportation and irrigation. By 1943, the Hanford Site was home to several hundred people who were primarily engaged in agricultural pursuits that were made possible by the coalescence of a number of factors including mainly enabling legislation that favored homesteading and reclamation/irrigation projects, adequate transportation (river barges, improved roads and rail lines), and the availability of capital (from the railroads and irrigation ventures) necessary to provide the irrigation and transportation infrastructure.

4.4.2 Exploration

Beginning in 1805-1806, when Lewis and Clark became the first non-Indians known to visit the vicinity of the Hanford Site, several parties of explorers, fur traders, missionaries, travelers, and soldiers passed through the area and recorded descriptions of it. The ceded lands within and surrounding the Hanford Site area did not experience permanent non-Indian settlement until after 1858, when the Yakama, Wanapum and other local Indian tribes were subjugated and when military orders closing large areas east of the Cascade Mountains to settlement were rescinded. After Lewis and Clark but before the outbreak of the post-treaty hostilities between the Indians and the Oregon volunteers, traders and agents of the Pacific Fur Company, the North West Company, and the Hudson's Bay Company often traveled along the major arteries of the Columbia and Snake Rivers and along smaller streams.

During the 1830s, Benjamin Bonneville and Samuel Parker came west on privately financed exploring trips, and Dr. and Mrs. Marcus Whitman established the first religious mission in the region near Walla Walla in 1836. The first United States Naval Exploring Expedition, under Lt. Charles Wilkes, examined the Columbia River as far upstream as The Dalles, and sent an overland party which traversed the Hanford region in 1841. In 1843, Marcus Whitman accompanied a large wagon train of settlers destined for Oregon's Willamette Valley, and ten years later the Longmire party crossed the locality and became the first emigrant group to scale the Cascades with wagons. Captain John Mullan investigated the region in 1853 and 1854, as part of a group appointed to survey a northern railroad route, and returned to the area to survey and build the Mullan Road between 1858 and 1863.

Military personnel and at least one wagon train (the 1853 Longmire party) did go through the area and leave written impressions as they traveled from Indiana to Puget Sound, becoming the first wagon train to cross the Cascades. Naval Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, as a part of his four-year mission to explore the Pacific Ocean from Antarctica to the Oregon Coast, sent an overland party to examine the interior of present-day Washington State. In the summer of 1841 this party, under Robert Johnson, became the first American group to cross the Cascade Mountains and they traveled through the Hanford Reach area to the Hudson's Bay Company posts at Fort Okanogan and Fort Colville.

White settlement of the region was greatly stimulated by the growth of transportation systems in the inland Northwest. Prior to 1858, whites followed Indian trails, but after the Yakima War, Lieutenant John Mullan surveyed a road for the U.S. Army, linking Fort Walla Walla with Fort Benton, Montana. Mullan, an assistant to Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, ventured in and out of the Hanford region several times in his survey of a northern railroad route in 1853. In 1858, he joined Colonel George Wright's punitive expedition against the Indians. Advancing from the southeast in midsummer of 1858, he wrote his first description of the Hanford vicinity and touted its rolling prairie, mild and generous climate, rich soil, and its great navigable river.

Between the years 1859 and 1863, Mullan realized his dream of building a wagon road between Fort Walla Walla and Fort Benton. This road, constructed and funded by the War Department, provided the essential overland link for thousands of immigrants coming to Washington Territory via the Mississippi and Missouri River route. Once the road was finished, immigrants were able to ship their belongings up the two rivers, then unload their animals and wagons and trek over the northern Rocky and Bitterroot Mountains, enter Washington just south of present-day Spokane, follow the road southwest to the junction of the Walla Walla and Columbia Rivers, and continue their westward journey as far as desired by water. The road was begun at Wallula on June 25, 1858, from whence it proceeded northeast and crossed the Snake River at the mouth of the Palouse River. Lyon's ferry began to operate at this crossing, and served for over a century until it was replaced by a bridge in 1968.

Mullan was anxious for white settlement and cultivation to come to Washington. While Mullan might have had more favorable areas in mind as he boosted the white resettlement of Washington, his enthusiasm for the region was taken up by others in the coming years - particularly such boosters as well-financed railroads that would help transform the area of the Hanford Site into a land of ranchers and farmers. Shortly after the Mullan Road was completed, gold was discovered in Idaho and Montana and whites established several ferries on the Snake River to accommodate the miners.

4.4.3 Missionary Period

If it can be said that the period of the explorers and fur traders overlapped with the missionary period, key figures of the missionary period helped spawn the white influx and the eventual resettlement of the Hanford Site vicinity. Dr. Whitman was interested in promoting Protestant Americans emigration to Oregon in order to extend the jurisdiction of the United States over whatever part of the Oregon territory would be granted it by treaty with the British. Although the emigrants of 1841 and 1842 abandoned their wagons at Fort Hall, Whitman believed that the emigration of 1843 would take its wagons over the mountains into the Columbia River Valley (Drury 1986: 467-468). Drury (1986: 18) wrote that Dr. Whitman made three notable contributions to the opening of the Oregon country for American settlement:

He saw the feasibility of taking white American women over the Continental Divide while on an exploring tour to the Rockies in the summer of 1835. The successful crossing of the Rockies through South Pass by Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding on July 4, 1836, unlocked the mountain gateway for men who wanted to take their families with them to Oregon. Where women could go riding horseback on side-saddles, other women and children could follow in covered wagons;

Whitmans stubborn persistence made it possible in 1836 to take the first wheeled vehicle across a long section of the Oregon Trail extending from the Green River Rendezvous in the Rockies to Fort Boise. Where one wagon had gone, others could follow;

He was responsible in leading the first great Oregon emigration of about 1000 people in 1843 from Fort Hall into the Columbia River Valley. These three history-making achievements combined to encourage thousands of Americans to make the overland trek to Oregon after 1843. The decisive factor in the establishment of the boundary with Great Britain in 1846 at 490 was the numerical superiority of American settlers in Oregon over those of British citizenship.

The successful 1843 emigration was followed by larger migrations of Americans to Oregon, which put greater pressure on the government to extend its jurisdiction over the territory. However, none of the emigrants moving westward between 1843-1847 actually settled in the vicinity of the Hanford Site.

4.4.4 Mining and Ranching

The gold rush of the late 1850s in British Columbia provided the impetus for non-Indian settlement in the Hanford area. The resulting rush was reminiscent of the early days in California with herds of cattle and strings of pack horses moving north to supply the mushrooming camps (Johansen 1967: 265). Miners spread over the region with subsequent strikes occurring in present day British Columbia, Idaho, and Montana, continuing the rush through the middle 1860s. Meinig (1968: 221) described the Columbia Basins position:

Such a series of sensational discoveries made the mountainous interior Northwest the first great successor to California as the pre-eminent locality of far western mining ... Unlike California, mining was dispersed among a dozen important districts spread over a huge area, but Portland (like San Francisco) became the great entrepĂ´t, and the Columbia Plain (like the Sacramento Valley) lay between the mines and the sea, and thus became directly bound up in the whole maelstrom of development.

By early 1859, steamboats were operating on the Columbia as far as White Bluffs, one of the first permanent settlements in the Hanford area. In addition to White Bluffs, Walla Walla, Wallula, The Dalles, and Umatilla became important points for the transfer of goods from the steamboats to pack strings. The initial White Bluffs settlement (the townsite was moved twice before it was demolished in the 1940s) was located on the east bank of the Columbia River at the base of the bluffs for which it is named.

By 1860, Thomas Howe was operating a ferry across the Columbia River at White Bluffs and a trading post was established three years later by A. R. Booth who had earlier taken over the ferry operation. The importance of White Bluffs as a transportation junction decreased in the late 1860s when the British Columbia mining boom subsided. At this time, the Mullen Road, which avoided sandy stretches north and east of White Bluffs, rose in popularity causing a sharp decline in the ferry traffic at White Bluffs. The decade of the 1870s witnessed shifts in the ownership of the White Bluffs ferry and landing site, but it remained significant for several more years. In fact, in 1876, 20 soldiers were briefly stationed there to protect travelers and ranchers because Smowhala the Dreamer, chief and priest of the Wanapums, was thought to be inciting trouble. When Fort Chelan was completed the next year, the soldiers left White Bluffs.

The gold rush also attracted Chinese miners into the area. As in other western mining areas, they were relegated to working abandoned claims and areas not deemed worthy of attention by white miners. By the mid- 1860s, Chinese miners were reported to be working gravel bars along much of the upper Columbia River and one author noted that there were over 1000 Chinese miners between Priest Rapids and Colville, especially along the east bank of the river below Wanapum Dam (cf. Hildebrand 1977 and Schalk, et al. 1982: 118). A subsequent influx of Chinese laborers occurred during construction of the railroads in the area. However, anti-Chinese sentiments (expressed in a 1923 promotional brochure for the state-sponsored White Bluffs-Hanford Land Settlement Project) suggests they did not remain to participate in the irrigation agriculture boom (Parker 1986: 242).

The influx of thousands of miners led to rapid development of ranching across the Columbia Plateau. Hundreds of stockmen spread across the region, taking advantage of the abundant grasslands. Meinig (1968: 222) characterized livestock as the one great product of the Columbia Plain in early 1860s. While cattle were extremely important in the early regional livestock industry, sheep, hogs, horses, mules, and burros (usually called "Mexican mules" or "pack mules") were also of some importance. The Walla Walla newspaper reported in 1866 that 6000 mules were in use and 1500 horses had been sold to persons en route to the mines (Meinig 1968: 222).

The sheep industry grew alongside that of cattle. The first large flock of 4500 head was driven into the Yakima region in late 1861 and by March 1862, only 45 were left. However, one terrible winter was not a major deterrent, and numerous flocks were imported over the next few years.

The earliest and most successful cattleman in the Hanford vicinity was Benjamin Snipes who wintered a herd in the Yakima Valley in 1855-56 before driving them to the mines in British Columbia. When he learned of the meat shortage in the British Columbia mining districts, Snipes examined the Hanford region for its suitability for raising cattle and during his reconnaissance, forded the river at White Bluffs, crossed the Hanford Site diagonally to the southwest, traversed the Rattlesnake Hills, and returned to the Yakima Valley (Sheller 1957: 35-38). Snipes' first cattle drive through the Hanford area required nearly two years of effort, but it yielded him enough profit to establish himself firmly in the cattle business in the Yakima Valley. During his cattle drive, he crossed the Columbia a few miles below Priest Rapids, enlisting experienced Wanapum men to assist them.

The market for beef in the British Columbia gold-mining district continued to be lucrative for ranchers in the Hanford region until the mid-1860s, and it was the factor most responsible for the earliest permanent non-Indian settlement of the area. Other ranchers and traders who settled in the Hanford vicinity in the early 1860s were also drawn to the unpopulated district by the lure of supplying the mining districts. Jordan Williams located a herd of cattle on the first White Bluffs townsite (on the east bank of the Columbia) in 1861, attracted to the location as a "noted range with its sandgrass and white sage. We could gather fat cattle in winter and spring when they were poor in every other place" (Parker 1979: 15).

The cattle business around the Hanford Site remained important during the 1860s but was a volatile undertaking due to shifting demand and rough winters. The British Columbia mines, the primary market for Hanford area cattle, tapered off rapidly by the end of the decade. In 1868, desperate for new markets, Hanford cattlemen drove stock over Naches Pass and later over Snoqualmie Pass seeking to supply the Puget Sound. But, Puget Sound consumers could absorb only a small portion of the beef available, and meat prices paid to ranchers dropped considerably (Sheller 1957: 200-210).

Although severe winter weather caused periodic decimation of cattle herds in the region, cattle ranching continued in the Hanford area during the 1870s. In fact, Hanford cattle were used to re-supply weather decimated herds in Montana and Wyoming. For the most part, large cattle drives out of the Hanford vicinity were finished by the early 1870s. Also, by the mid-1870s, the sheep business had expanded so rapidly in the Columbia Basin that conflicts arose between cattlemen and sheepherders (Oliphant 1968: 338). However, the sheep business declined as sharply as it had arisen, and by 1890 there was less than one-third the number of sheep in the vicinity as there had been 10 years previously. All types of stockmen near the Hanford Site were affected by the same historical forces, leading to an overall slump in their business (Oliphant 1968: 341-345).

Ranching declined in the early 1880s in the Hanford vicinity and across the Columbia Plain due to the coming of the railroad, extensive farming and fencing, and overgrazing and subsequent range depletion. Primary factors relating to the decline of the cattle industry were the construction of a railroad link to the eastern United States and the expansion of farming. The Northern Pacific Railroad was completed to Ainsworth, near the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, in 1883. The establishment of that connection with the eastern United States accelerated the settlement of the area by wheat farmers which in turn led to extensive fencing and closing of the open ranges on which the cattlemen depended. But without irrigation, the lands around the Hanford Site could not be cultivated and thus the cattle ranching period appears to have lasted somewhat longer in the Hanford area than in the rest of the Columbia Plateau. That is, the slower shift from ranching to farming in the Hanford area was probably due in large part to the relative aridity of the Hanford site. In the uplands east of the Columbia, the conversion to agriculture occurred earlier since that area receives enough rainfall to allow dryland farming. But, agricultural development of much of the Hanford site was simply impossible without irrigation.

According to Meinig (1968: 267), the area west of the Columbia River remained largely cattle and sheep country into the 1880s. In her history of the early communities of the Hanford Reservation, Parker (1986: 33) states that the Hanford area continued to be used for grazing into the 1890s when thousands of horses and cattle grazed from the Yakima far to the south, to the Columbia, all through the land now under the Hanford Atomic Reservation.

4.4.5 Farming and Railroads

Farming on the Columbia Plateau began in the 1860s in the Walla Walla Valley east of the Hanford site. Initial agricultural settlement focused on the scattering of low, level ground nestled inls on the eastern margins of the plateau. Here they were able to find flat land, water, timber, and hay. Farming expanded across the eastern plateau with the pace of settlement increasing in the 1870s as farmers realized that the rolling, grassy hills covering much of the region could be successfully farmed. This opened vast areas for agricultural settlement that had been previously avoided. By the 1880s, expansion of agriculture in the area east of the Columbia River brought an end to open-range cattle ranching there (Meinig 1968: 284).

As noted above, the more arid conditions in the Hanford area prevented the spread of dryland farming into the area and agricultural development lagged. Some small scale irrigation occurred around the Hanford Site, but this was primarily in support of the still dominant ranching activities. Agriculture at Hanford did not begin in earnest until the development of irrigation projects. Construction of these works began along the Yakima River in the 1890s but large scale irrigation projects on the Hanford site were not successfully undertaken until the early 1900s.

One of the primary impulses for agriculture in the region was the development of adequate transportation facilities. Riverboats had been operating on the Columbia River since the mining booms of the 1860s but the few that continued in operation into the 1870s were unable to handle the wheat produced in the Walla Walla area during that period. Railroads were needed to transport the huge volumes of grain produced in the rapidly expanding region.

The first railroad constructed on the Columbia Plateau was the Walla Walla and Columbia River Railroad (WW&C). It was completed in 1875 by local interests, connecting Walla Walla with river boats landing at Wallula by following a 25-mile route along the Walla Walla River. The WW&C was purchased the following year by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company (OR&N) which controlled the riverboat traffic on the Columbia. The OR&N completed a rail line from Wallula to Portland in 1882, thereby providing direct access to a deep water port for the growing grain area of the Columbia Plateau. The following year, 1883, the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad was completed to Ainsworth, a new railroad settlement located at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers (Meinig 1968: 258). The establishment of a transcontinental railroad through the district surrounding the Hanford Site delivered the most telling blow to the ranching business of the area. The railroad brought large numbers of settlers interested in farming and fencing, and the railroad companies had the money to finance irrigation projects to make the land productive and saleable.

The completion of these rail lines affected the development of agriculture in the inland Pacific Northwest in two important ways. First, they provided efficient access to markets in the eastern United States and around the Pacific Rim. In addition, the railroads improved access to the region for settlers and manufactured goods entering the area. Both of these had the effect of spurring growth across the region. Initially, the Northern Pacific used the OR&N tracks down the Columbia to Portland while at the same time building west through the Yakima Valley and across Stampede Pass to the Puget Sound. The towns of Pasco and Kennewick were founded by the company in 1884 with the bridge crossing the Snake River between Pasco and Ainsworth completed that year. The bridge across the Columbia, joining Kennewick and Pasco, was completed in 1888. Prior to completion of these bridges, railroad cars were ferried across the two rivers. Construction of the Northern Pacific brought additional Chinese laborers into the Hanford area who had originally entered the region during the gold rush era when they worked gravel bars along much of the upper Columbia River.

A second major rail line, the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle (SP&S), was built through the southern Hanford area between 1904-08. The SP&S ran southwest from Spokane to the Snake River which it followed to Ainsworth, which, having been largely abandoned following completion of the Northern Pacifics Snake River Bridge, saw a brief period of revival. The new line crossed the Columbia at Pasco and followed the north bank of the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington.

At the same time the SP&S was being built south of the Hanford Site, the transcontinental Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul was under construction to the north. This line had a greater impact on the Hanford Site through the construction of its Priest Rapids Spur Line in 1913. The spur left the main line near Beverly and followed the west bank of the Columbia southward and eastward through Vernita and White Bluffs to the town of Hanford.

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to develop additional rail service on what later became the Hanford Reservation. In 1907 the Hanford Irrigation, Power, and Priest Rapids Railway Company announced it would build a rail line to Hanford to be powered by electricity but it was never built (Parker 1986: 55). Additional efforts were also proposed but never realized. Parker (1986: 55) characterized the desire for the development of this important infrastructure:

The coming of the railroad was an event that was fought over and fought for all the remaining years until the government take-over in 1943. Richland spent many dollars and much time trying to get a spur into town and in later years an incorporation of local men was formed to join Kennewick and Hanford by rail. It was never to be, until the Army COE needed the railroad to receive supplies . . .

Richlands efforts to develop rail connections with Kennewick and the Hanford/White Bluffs area were, no doubt, based in a desire to become the main shipping point for agricultural products of the surrounding area.

4.4.6 Farming and Irrigation

Agricultural development in the Hanford Site area could not succeed without artificial irrigation. Although irrigation projects were being developed along the Yakima River in the 1890s, large scale irrigation projects at the Hanford Site were not successfully undertaken until after the turn of the century. The first attempt by Euro-Americans to artificially irrigate the arid lands of the Columbia Basin was the small-scale irrigation system developed by Dr. Whitman in the late 1830s/early 1840s to facilitate subsistence farming at the mission. The results were so encouraging that Dr. Whitman widely touted the area and its agricultural potential to possible emigrants.

Early Efforts

As early as 1870, some settlers in the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys had diverted water to reclaim arid lands. Early farmers in the Yakima Valley completed the Ahtanum Canal in 1874 and an even more ambitious project was constructed near Yakima - the seven mile long Union Gap ditch (Dryden 1968: 202-203).

Interestingly, it was cattlemen who helped foster the advent of irrigation in the region. As a result of the disastrous losses in livestock due to the severe winter weather conditions in 1880-1881 and again in 1886-1887, stockmen began constructing small dams and gravity flow irrigation systems in the Lower Yakima valley in an effort to grow alfalfa and rye grass. Each farm or ranch had its own system and Ben Rosencrance, who settled in what is now Richland, was among the first settlers to build such systems (Parker 1986: 170).

Most immigrants to the Hanford vicinity initially planned to grow wheat, hops, and/or alfalfa, but they soon found that they could grow almost anything if they could get water. Experimental crops of melons, vegetables, berries, sugar cane, peanuts, maize, flowers and fruit trees all thrived (Harris 1972: 50). An additional incentive for attempting crop irrigation came from the Desert Land Act, passed by Congress in 1877, which allotted 640 acres of land to a homesteader if he irrigated at least 80 of those acres (Lavender 1958: 434-39).

A number of farmers in the White Bluffs-Priest Rapids area used a sort of water elevator, which consisted of an endless chain of buckets powered by a horse (Harris 1972: 63). Other small irrigation devices such as individual windmills, water wheels, or makeshift dams diverted water from nearby rivers and creeks into wooden ditches or flumes to gravity flow into nearby fields. By 1890, many small steam vacuum pumps, which were placed directly over wells or streams, were in use. These were often weak and the related piping systems were often inadequate. On the peninsula between the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, Nelson Rich dug a private canal about one and one-half miles long, headed on the Yakima River several miles below the Horn, and grew two successive crops of alfalfa, barley, hops, cabbages, onions, and potatoes on former sagebrush land. (Van Arsdol 1972b: 24, 38-39; Parker 1979: 19, 43).

At first, the early settlers, such as Rosencrance, kept close to the rivers or the perennial creeks flowing from the mountains and such was the case in the drier areas such as the Yakima Valley. This conservative strategy generally worked well, though, on occasion, some unlucky pioneer who was located away from a stream might find that he had misjudged the availability of water on his land and was forced to haul water from a neighbors well or creek (cf. Meinig 1968: 301). But as settlement pressures increased and colonization began to push in toward the more arid center of the Columbia Basin, domestic water supply became a more serious difficulty and impediment to agricultural development. By about 1888, some settlers were drilling wells with some success, but a general deficiency of water afflicted the area for many more years (cf. Meinig 1968: 301).

The Beginnings of Organized Irrigation Schemes

In the decade of the 1890s, the Yakima Irrigation and Improvement Company [YI & IC] built the first major irrigation canal on or near the Hanford Site area. Starting in January 1892, the company began canal construction commencing at the headgates at the Horn of the Yakima (Horn Rapids), then proceeding along the west side of the river to Kennewick. The Kennewick townsite was platted and during periods of favorable economic conditions, increasing numbers of people came to make their homes there.

The YI & IC took control of the odd numbered land sections in the lower Yakima Valley, totally almost 40,000 acres. The even number sections were owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The YI & IC planned to begin construction, in the spring months, of a large canal which was to head at a point several miles above Kiona, go around the foot of Rattlesnake Mountain, and continue northeast to Sharkeys landing on the Columbia. Another branch of the canal was to cross the Yakima and continue to a point opposite Wallula (Parker 1986: 17-18).

The land to be watered by this YI & IC canal ranged between 340 and 390 feet above sea level and was considered to be the earliest [ripening/harvestable] of any of the agricultural land north of California and would supply the coastal cities which otherwise received their produce by boat from San Francisco. It is not, therefore, hard to imagine the excitement and enthusiasm felt by the residents of this sparsely populated area on the lower Yakima as they envisioned the benefits of the apparent coming of water to their desert lands. In fact, there was a great rush to file (claims) on the land along the projected irrigation ditches. Thousands of acres were entered at the Walla Walla land offices under the Homestead and Desert Land laws in the winter of 1888-1889 (Parker 1986: 17-18).

Unfortunately, the national financial panic of 1893 through 1896 caused the YI & IC to fall into financial ruin and a large break in the ditch pretty much sealed the fate of this company. The failure of the YI & IC was, for a time, a major set-back for regional agricultural development and many farms were subsequently deserted and many settlers moved away (Parker 1986: 32). Even though the company went into receivership and the ditch enterprise should have been terminated, too much money had been invested in large tracts of land (that had been purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad) to permit the scheme to lie dormant. On the west side of the Columbia, this project was resumed in 1902 when the Northern Pacific Railroad formed a subsidiary to complete that undertaking. This new railroad company subsidiary also laid out the townsite of Kennewick once again, and several hundred residents were on hand to celebrate the arrival of the first water in the ditch in 1903. Two years later the Richland canal was constructed to serve the peninsula between the Yakima and Columbia (Meinig 1968: 301).

Parker (1986: 18) also commented:

The first Yakima Irrigation and Improvement Company scheme to irrigate the east slope of Rattlesnake Mountain sounds remarkably like Ledbetters plan, which Mrs. Harris describes thusly: As early as 1893, a private plan for irrigating the land in the southern White Bluffs area was started, but it proved to be a big task. About ten years later, government engineers reported that the Ledbetter scheme was one of the most attractive in the whole area. Ledbetter, an eastern promoter, tried to irrigate over 200,000 acres by diverting water from the Yakima River near Prosser Falls. Traces of the ditch are still visible. Part of the land was Rattlesnake Flat, to the east of Rattlesnake Mountain, where there was very fertile soil. The project extended from Gable Mountain on the north to the Columbia on the east. The project collapsed because of the Panic of 1893.

Not only was the decade of the 1890s an important one in terms of these regionally and locally important irrigation schemes, some of which ultimately succeeded (see above), but it was also the time when the first irrigation districts were organized. In 1890, the Washington state legislature passed a law authorizing irrigation districts to issue bonds to pay for operating costs but the state clearly lagged behind other states in irrigation development and at that time, had the smallest acreage under irrigation. By 1900, the effects of this law were finally being felt as individuals and small irrigation companies were digging ditches and bringing water to a very limited acreage, principally in Yakima County (The Hanford Site area was part of Yakima County until Benton County was created in 1905.) (Dryden 1968: 243).

The importance of these organized irrigation efforts cannot be over emphasized. With the help of this state legislation and better organized irrigation efforts, by 1910 there was a string of bustling towns winding through the narrow corridors of irrigated farmland on either side of the Yakima River (Meinig 1968: 448). Further, it was the emergence of irrigation agriculture that helped usher in the boom years of the early 20th century (Meinig 1968: 301).

The Newlands Reclamation Act and its Impact on Regional Irrigation Projects

The most important irrigation development in the opening years of the 20th century was passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902. Its passage marked the beginning of planned, coordinated survey and development of the irrigation potentialities of the entire Columbia Basin. It also provided the financial and organizational muscle needed to bring the mford area, under an effective program of irrigation. One of the first fruits of the Reclamation Act was the assumption of federal control of local irrigation projects.

In the time period immediately following passage of the Reclamation Act, however, many small-scale, large-dream plans for pumping or diverting water from the Columbia and its tributaries were born and died and a few survived somewhat longer by desperate persistence. For a time, only small canals were being proposed, such as the one from Priest Rapids on the Columbia to White Bluffs, some 20 miles away, to irrigate 5,000 acres (cf. Relander 1961: 146). Johansen (1967: 393) commented about the situation in eastern Washington just at the time the Reclamation Act was passed. She noted that in the Palouse Valley and the Big Bend of the Columbia there were large areas suitable for irrigation but costs were prohibitive and remained so for some years.

The importance of the Reclamation Act cannot be underestimated. Passage of the act inspired local confidence, settlement and investment (Edwards 1981: 113). President Theodore Roosevelt visited North Yakima on May 25, 1903 and pointed to the Reclamation Act as marking the beginning of "a policy more important to this country's internal development than any since the Homestead Law of Lincoln's time."

Three key goals guided the reclamation program under the Act: (1) to plan and construct major improvements by means of a federal agency; (2) to design and carry out each project so as to provide maximum benefits for the entire area in which it was located; and (3) to make federally financed projects self-liquidating. The last goal was to be accomplished by charging costs against the lands they served and eventually by transferring ownership and management of the canals (though not the dams and reservoirs) to associations of water users (Johansen 1967: 392). Thus, under the Reclamation Act, the burden of watering the land came to fall on the shoulders of the federal government.

Meinig (1968: 381) observed that the total area that could be irrigated under these projects was only a small part of the agricultural acreage of the region, and the total acreage actually in production was an even smaller fraction since it took time to complete the full network of facilities. But these figures provide no measure of the importance of irrigation to the development of the region. Once in full production, these lands would yield high returns and support relatively dense rural populations. Moreover, together these various irrigation projects represented an important phase in the elaboration of the geographic patterns of regional development. The areas developed for irrigation were arid and had not been farmed before. Further, the spread of irrigation agriculture was complementary rather than competitive with the advance of the dryland farming. By 1905, at least a beginning had been made in nearly all of the agricultural districts which could feasibly be developed on the basis of local water supplies. Closely associated with the irrigation projects was the establishment of many new towns in the region, most of which were platted and promoted by the irrigation companies themselves. In addition, as these farm and town developments grew, the settlers and residents often agitated for construction of new railroads lines.

Local Irrigation Efforts after the Newlands Reclamation Act

The first YI & IC and Ledbetter ditches were planned to irrigate the east slope of Rattlesnake Mountain and were partly built; traces of them can still be found today. The second YI & IC ditch headed at the Horn of the Yakima use on the north and east side of Yakima River.

A YI & IC ditch that was important to the development of the early town of Richland was one that was under the ownership of Nelson Rich. It headed at the Yakima River several miles below the Horn and was the same ditch purchased by Howard S. and W. R. Amon that stimulated the growth of Richland in 1905. Even as these land-owners began to realize the benefits of the YI & IC, more ambitious plans were being conceived for areas to the north of the newly burgeoning town of Richland. Today, all but the faintest traces of the ditch are gone (Parker 1986: 19).

In December 1905, the Priest Rapids Irrigation and Power Company was organized in Seattle for the purpose of reclaiming 32,000 acres of arid land along the Columbia River 30 miles above Richland. This scheme was the forerunner of the Hanford Irrigation and Power Company (Parker 1986: 46-47). Before the ditch associated with this scheme was constructed, local farmers used gasoline pumps and water wheels to irrigate their land (Parker 1986: 37). Only one year after its conception, the Hanford Irrigation Company ditch was under construction by December 1906 (Parker 1986: 48). By March 1907, C. S. Hanford reported that about fifteen miles of canal had been completed, using 150 teams and 250 men. The power intake canal was completed in March 1908 and was reportedly 76 feet wide at the bottom, 140 feet wide at the top and 25 feet deep (Parker 1986: 58-59). Hanfords low line ditch was finished and the power plant was built during the winter when the water was low. This low line ditch was to water 20,000 acres and the later planned high line ditch would bring the total acreage to 32,000.

By 1908, the White Bluffs Irrigation Company had started work on its system, stimulated by completion of the (Howard Amon and Lee Amsbury) ditch in 1905 (Parker 1986: 59). Both pumping plants for the White Bluffs irrigation project were operational by the end of 1908 (Parker 1986: 59). Nearby, the irrigation of the Priest Rapids Valley began with the construction of a power plant at the foot of Priest Rapids. Lands south and west of the river came under irrigation as a result (Schalk et al. 1982: 120).

Irrigation development in the Cold Creek Valley (NW area of Hanford Site) differed from other parts of the Hanford Site in two important ways. First, unlike the rest of the Hanford Site which relied on water from the Yakima and Columbia Rivers for irrigation, water for irritation in Cold Creek Valley was obtained from artesian wells which were dug in the late 1910s and 1920s. Second, individual farmers could drill a well and construct their own irrigation systems. On the remainder of the Hanford Site, irrigation was developed by large organizations because of the need to provide high volumes of water to thousands of acres of land.

In the Cold Creek Valley, water from the artesian wells was carried to cultivated fields by gravity systems consisting of shallow ditches, pipe (wood, concrete, ceramic, and metal) and small cedar board flumes. The artesian systems remained in operation until the establishment of the Hanford Engineering Works in 1943, although the water output of many of the earlier wells was substantially reduced when the McGee Ranch well was dug in 1928.

4.4.7 Resettlement - Growth of Local Communities

Various federal land and water programs played an important role in the Euro-American resettlement and development of the Hanford Site area. Once the lands on what was to become the Hanford Site were ceded to the U.S. government by the tribes, the most important way in which these lands were transferred into the private ownership of settlers was the Homestead Act of 1862. Under that act, any citizen who was the head of a family or a single man over the age of 21 years could obtain 160 acres free by residing on the claim for five years and making certain minimal improvements. Ben Rosencrance filed a homestead claim as part of the original holdings of his large cattle operation centered around the mouth of the Yakima River in the 1880s (Parker 1986: 16). By the early 1890s, settlers in the White Bluffs area had filed homestead claims along both sides of the Columbia River.

Another important law used by settlers in the Hanford Site area was the Desert Land Act of 1877. Under this act, 640 acres could be purchased at $1.25 per acre upon proof it had been placed under irrigation within three years. As in other regions, settlers at Hanford sometimes filed under more than one land act. But probably the most common way that settlers acquired government lands in the Hanford Site area was through the railroads, who themselves had been granted odd-numbered sections of land by the government. For example, part of the original charter of the Northern Pacific Railroad included the government grant of the odd-number sections, on either side of the line, for a distance of 20 miles. As heavy promoters of land development and settlement, and key players in the organization of irrigation schemes, the railroads eagerly sold these government granted lands to the willing settlers.

White Bluffs, Hanford, Richland

As noted earlier, the first Euro-American community on the Hanford Site was White Bluffs. The original townsite was established in the early 1860s on the east bank of the Columbia River. The ferry and river boat landing made the town an important point on the route to the mines in British Columbia. Much was expected of the new community. The Portland Oregonian for March 1, 1866, reported:

A second Sacramento; We are informed that a company has been formed at the Dalles who intended putting 25 heavy freight trams on the portage from White Bluffs to Pend Oreille at once and increase the number as required. These teams will start form White Bluffs by March 10. Thus we see another very important link in the communications with Montana supplies. We have ever looked upon White Bluffs as a starting point in this great trade, and we have no doubt that, relying on the merits of the route above, will continue to prosper, and it may become in time the Sacramento of the Columbia Valley. Already a hotel and several stores have been established there. The pioneers of the town, Booth and Nevison, have already purchased a very extensive stock of goods. The town is to be properly surveyed, now that permanency is no longer a matter of doubt.

However, traffic through White Bluffs dropped sharply following the precipitous decrease in mining activity in British Columbia that occurred after 1865. However, the site continued to be an important river crossing, much as it had been for the local Indians and early travelers.

Settlement in the White Bluffs area was stimulated again in the early 1890s with the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad bridge across the Columbia in 1888. The narrow band of land between the river and the base of the bluffs was unable to accommodate all of the land seekers and some settled on the west bank of the river across from White Bluffs.

Further development of the area west of the river awaited irrigation. In 1896, the Northern Pacific Railroad studied the White Bluffs area for the potential development of an irrigation project and the Northwestern Improvement Company made a similar study in 1904. Both companies concluded that the project would be too expensive and did not pursue it. But, in 1905 the Priest Rapids Irrigation and Power Company announced plans to develop an irrigation system to water 32,000 acres using water pumped from the Columbia. The company bought land in the White Bluffs area (now located on the west bank of the river) and at what was to become the Hanford townsite. The Hanford townsite was platted in 1907 and the second White Bluffs townsite was platted a year later.

Even though the enterprise was faced with numerous problems (including the split of the original company into separate Hanford and White Bluffs companies, only to merge again in 1910, and the delay in delivery of water until 1909), settlement of the Hanford/White Bluffs area proceeded rapidly. This development was part of a general pattern across the Columbia Plateau which Edwards (1981: 112-113) described:

... [between 1906 and 1911] the Yakima, Columbia, and Snake River valleys . . . enjoyed a boom: new towns appeared and old ones expanded, railroads offered improved service, more irrigation canals were dug through the sage lands, and newcomers, especially middle-class farmers, moved onto and improved the lands. Between 1900 and 1910, the population burgeoned, in North Yakima from 3,200 to 14,000, in Ellensburg from 1,700 to 4,200, and in Prosser from 200 to 1,300. New incorporated towns like Sunnyside, Granger, Kennewick, and Clarkston were a further indication of prosperity. Those years saw a 118 percent increase in the number of irrigated farms, an extension of main irrigation ditches from 806 to 2,594 miles, and a jump in acreage irrigated from 135,500 to 334,400 - - a rise of 147 percent.

So many settlers came to take up homestead claims in the White Bluffs area between 1892 and 1894 that there was little room for them on the east bank of the Columbia between the river and the bluffs, and most settled on the west bank opposite the original White Bluffs townsite.

Settlement of Richland was boosted as a result of the Northern Pacific's promotions of the Kennewick neighborhood in the late 1880s/early 1890s and the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad to the area surrounding the Hanford Site. The majority of new settlers were interested in farming, and their arrival hastened the transition of the regional economy to agriculture.

During the years from 1906 to 1910, when Richland, White Bluffs, and Hanford were experiencing their greatest irrigation booms, promotions of the region were lavish. Photographer Asahel Curtis was hired by land companies, railroads, and commercial clubs during the height of the promotional boom in Eastern Washington, and his work illustrated many of the advertising brochures of the Hanford vicinity between 1906 - 1910. Curtis captured some of the most diverse and unique pictures of the irrigation and development boom in the Hanford Site area. Brochures and flyers were printed in the thousands and widely distributed. A 36-page booklet produced by the Richland Land Company (ca. 1909) described the area in glowing terms and stated that a man can, upon a ten-acre tract in this country, under irrigation, make a more independent living, and build up a better bank account, than upon a 160-acre farm in either the East or West, without irrigation (Parker 1986: 91). A similar brochure produced around the same time by the Columbia River Land Company characterized White Bluffs as The California of the Northwest (Parker 1986: 124).

As the irrigation projects were being built in the middle years of the first decade of the 20th century, farmers in the White Bluffs and Hanford areas were making major investments in their lands. With the promise of ample water, large orchards of apples, pears, and plums were planted. Since these young trees would require several years to grow into mature fruit-bearing production, the farmers often planted other cash crops (such as strawberries or alfalfa) between the rows of tree saplings. Unfortunately, when some of these irrigation projects failed to deliver the promised water on time, or in the quantities promised, many farmers experienced significant loss to their young orchards and sued the irrigation companies for damages.

Railroads and Community Growth

With the passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act, the heavy promotion of the area by railroad and irrigation interests, and the successful implementation of irrigation projects, the small towns within the Hanford Site experienced boom-time conditions through much of the first and second decades of the 20th century. The major event of the decade was the completion of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad to Hanford in May of 1913 providing a transcontinental rail link for the White Bluffs-Hanford area (e.g., the Priest Rapids Line). With the arrival of the Priest Rapids Line into the White Bluffs and Hanford area, the farmers were better able to ship large quantities of fruit from their maturing orchards. Not only were produce prices up as a result of war-time demand, but with the arrival of this rail link, transportation costs to ship produce eased.

As noted above, local farmers, who faced the twin problems of expensive water and transportation costs, frequently turned to the courts. Numerous law suits were filed against irrigation companies that failed to provide promised water supplies. Undoubtedly, these problems contributed to the establishment of several grower associations during the early years of the second decade of the 20th century. Local farmers did persevere and during the World War I years, they found a ready market for their agricultural products.

Soldier Settlement Project

As the pace of development slowed after World War I, in an effort to further stimulate development in the Hanford-White Bluffs area, the state supported a soldier-settlement project that got underway in the early 1920s. The project was intended to establish World War I veterans on 20-acre plots of land containing a house, barn, poultry house, and a well. The initial project included 58 plots which was later expanded to 90 (e.g., 1800 acres). Soldiers could purchase a plot for about $5,000 with $600 down payment. At least initially, the project was a success in that soldiers and their families began arriving at the settlement areas in 1922. However, problems including drought, low crop prices, and difficulties with farming the light soils of the Hanford Site area caused many of the soldier-settlers to default on payments and move away. In 1926, the state declared the settlement a failure. Deeds were given to 50 soldiers who had made partial payment for their properties and the remainder of the plots were sold at auction (Parker 1986: 259).

The Great Depression

The experience of the local soldier-settlers at the Hanford Site mirrored tough conditions throughout the region. In the 1920s, the Columbia Basin was experiencing depressed economic conditions typical of the many rural areas in the country that went into economic decline five to ten years before the nationwide depression. The rural community was no longer receiving a high return on their produce as they had experienced during World War I. Years of poor agricultural practices, especially on submarginal lands like those found in the Columbia Basin, resulted in the dust bowl conditions. Thus, power development projects of the 1930s, like Grand Coulee Dam, were geared towards supplying energy to the expanding urban centers. Similarly, initiation of the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project was intended to reclaim marginal lands that could only be cultivated with irrigation (Harvey 1982: 200).

The Great Depression of the 1930s inflicted severe suffering in the Hanford area. Crop prices fell in the postwar contraction of the early 1920s, and did not recover until World War II. The Hanford Site area, which was agriculturally based, did not experience the speculative, inflationary boom that occurred in the industrialized portions of the nation in the late 1920s. Thus, it was spared an economic "crash" in late 1929 or 1930. In fact, the Great Depression was slow to reach the Hanford vicinity and farm prices rose slightly in 1929. This rise, combined with railroad competition which lowered freight rates in 1930 and 1931, brightened the area's agricultural picture a bit. However, the impact of the Great Depression, after 1931, was devastating.

When the Great Depression reached the Hanford Site in 1932, farm product values had slid by 30 percent from the levels of 1930. By 1934, all Washington farm goods except potatoes and wool were selling at prices below those of 1917. Local newspapers carried stories of tight money and business closures, as retail stores, banks, insurors, and others dependent on sales to Hanford Siteemselves without paying customers. In 1932, local railroad employees received a 10-percent pay cut and many lost their jobs entirely and waited several years to be recalled. In 1932, a cattle drive, reminiscent of a bygone era, was made by Yakima Valley ranchers as a way to save shipping costs and realize a profit. Five hundred head of Herefords from Toppenish were driven to the Rattlesnake Hills and across the Hanford Site where they swam the Columbia River at White Bluffs, and then northward along Benjamin Snipes' route to British Columbia (Parker 1979: 295-98, 315).

Despite local and state government efforts, it was several federal projects that sustained the Hanford Site area and prevented much more severe, regional financial collapse. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) loans, and the 1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act were helpful. The Federal Surplus Commodity Corporation purchased millions of pounds of surplus food in Washington in 1936 which was given to relief agencies for distribution. In 1935, less than one-tenth of Hanford area farms were served by electricity. That year, the national Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created to promote the formation of non-profit farm cooperatives to bring electric power to rural homes. Low interest federal loans were made available to fund installation of the power lines.

Although the Hanford region realized many advantages from the national programs of the Depression era, the most reaching impacts were produced by construction of Grand Coulee Dam. It provided enormous electrical power generation and fostered reclamation efforts such as the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project just after World War II. Its first benefits to the Hanford Site area were jobs. Water began to be retained in the partially completed reservoir (Lake Roosevelt) behind Grand Coulee Dam in 1939, and the first power was delivered out of the huge generators in October 1941. Bonneville Dam was completed and started electrical generation in 1938. In 1940, the Midway Substation, located just upstream from Vernita on the northwest edge of the Hanford Site, was built for the mammoth Bonneville-Grand Coulee power lines (Parker 1979: 350-51; Lavender 1958: 443).

At the same time that the Grand Coulee Dam was being built, Hanford residents pushed for the development of a port system and the construction of additional dams in their area. When the federal government failed to step in and establish a Columbia River Authority, similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority, local communities formed the Inland Waterways Association and leaders in the Hanford Site area pushed for construction of a dam at Umatilla Rapids. The Army Corps of Engineers surveyed the site in July 1938 but funds already had been committed to the John Day Dam and Congress denied funding for the Umatilla Rapids Dam (Parker 1986: 302-03, 320-34; Parker 1979: 321, 341).

Although agriculture dominated the Hanford Site area in the years prior to the creation of the Hanford Engineer Works, the discovery of natural gas underneath the Rattlesnake Hills resulted in much drilling activity. By 1930, four companies were still actively searching for gas, and a small settlement known as Gas Wells was in place. Rumors of big oil discoveries abounded, especially in 1930 when Shell Oil Company sent representatives to lease land and investigate the Rattlesnake Hills (Harris 1972: 277).

The Northern Pacific Railroad continued to boost settlement and "homesteading" in the Hanford Site area throughout the 1930s and held festive promotional picnics in Pasco and other locations. Between 1931 and 1937, about 488 midwest farm families and others bought irrigated farms through the railway's land agent (Van Arsdol 1958: 31-36; Oberst and Smith 1983: 59-64). Land colonizers also came as part of the overall migration out of the midwestern "dustbowl," in response to advertising and personal initiative. In 1939, after two years of extensive investigation of irrigated farmlands from Texas to the Pacific Northwest, a group of Mormon families chose the Hanford-White Bluffs district for permanent settlement (Parker 1979: 352). There was still abundant non-irrigated land in the Hanford Site area and in 1938, some 20,000 sheep from Kittitas and Yakima Counties wintered either on or near the Hanford Site at Gable Mountain, near Priest Rapids, and between Vernita and White Bluffs (Parker 1979: 276, 341). Between the World Wars, there were few changes made to the reclamation systems in the Hanford Site area and no new major irrigation projects were constructed.

4.4.8 Summary

The first Euro-Americans who came into the Hanford region were Lewis and Clark who were soon followed by fur trappers, military units, and miners passing through on river passageways on their way to more productive lands and across the Columbia Basin. It was not until the 1860s that merchants set up stores, a freight depot, and the ferry at White Bluffs on the Hanford Reach. Chinese miners began to work the gravel bars for gold, cattle ranches were established in the 1880s, and farmers, the railroads, and extensive irrigation followed soon after. Several small, thriving towns, including Hanford, White Bluffs, and Richland, grew up along the riverbanks in the early 20th century. Other ferries were established at Wahluke and Richmond. The towns and almost all the other structures were razed after the government acquired the land for the Hanford Engineer Works in 1943 (cf. Chatters 1989, ERTEC 1981, Rice 1980, and Cushing 1995). Thus, much of the pre-Hanford historic record is archaeological in nature.

4.5 Associated Property Types

4.5.1 Introduction

As with the Indians who lived alongside the life-giving Columbia and Yakima Rivers, the recently-arrived Euro-Americans settlers located their ranches and farms adjacent to these important water ways and harnessed their flows to irrigate the arid soils to grow a wide variety of cash crops. Like the Indians whose occupation left behind a rich array of physical remains that attest to their occupation and use of the Hanford Site for thousands of years, the Euro-Americans, in a relatively few decades, left behind ample physical evidence of their activities (farms, ranches, towns, roads, canals, fields, etc.). With the evacuation of all civilians (Indians and whites) from the area in 1943, and the subsequent removal of much of the standing structures erected by the Euro-Americans, the Hanford Site became, almost overnight, a large archaeological district. This section describes the physical remains (e.g., property types) that pertain to Euro-American resettlement of the Hanford Site area.

Archaeological resources from the pre-Hanford Site period are scattered over the entire Hanford Site and include numerous areas of gold mine tailings along riverbanks of the Columbia and the remains of homesteads, agricultural fields, ranches, and irrigation-related features. At present, 224 historic archaeological sites and numerous historic properties have been recorded which are associated with the pre-Hanford Site era (Cushing 1995).

Properties from the pre-Hanford Site era include semi-subterranean structures near McGee Ranch, the Hanford Irrigation and Power Companys pumping plant at Coyote Rapids, the Hanford Irrigation Ditch, the Hanford town site, pumping plant and high school, Wahluke Ferry, the White Bluffs town site and bank, the Richmond Ferry, Arrowsmith town site, a cabin at East White Bluffs ferry landing, the White Bluffs road, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Priest Rapids-Hanford Line) and associated whistle stops, and Bruggemans fruit warehouse (Rice 1980). Historic archaeological sites including an assortment of farmsteads, corrals, and dumps, have been recorded by the Hanford Cultural Resource Laboratory (HCRL) since 1987. In 1995, large-scale surveys of the 100 and 200 Areas by crews from Washington State University, under contract to HCRL, has resulted in the recordation of many more historic archaeological sites. ERTEC Northwest conducted some minor test excavations at some of the historic sites, including the Hanford town site (Cushing 1995).

In the 100 B and 100 C Areas, the remains of Haven Station, a small stop on the former Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad line is located west of the reactor compound. The remains of the small community of Haven lie on the opposite bank of the Columbia River. In the 100 D and 100 DR Areas, there are many sites representing Euro-American settlement activities. The former community of Wahluke, which was at the landing of a ferry of the same name, is also situated on the rivers north bank. In the 100 F Area, four historic period sites were discovered during surveys in 1991. The principal historic archaeological site in the vicinity is the East White Bluffs ferry landing and former townsite.

The East White Bluffs ferry landing is located on the east bank of the Columbia River and was formerly the upriver terminus of shipping during the early and mid-19th century. It was at this point that supplies for trappers, traders, and miners were off-loaded, and commodities from the interior were transferred from pack trains and wagons to river boats. The first store and ferry of the mid-Columbia were located there. A log cabin, thought by some to have been a blacksmith shop in the mid-19th century, still stands there. Test excavations were conducted at the cabin by the University of Idaho and the structure has been recorded to Historic American Buildings Survey standards (Rice 1976). The only remaining structure associated with the White Bluffs townsite (near the railroad) is the White Bluffs Bank (Cushing 1995).

In the 100 H Area are 14 historic sites that were recorded during 1992 and 1993 and include 20th century farmsteads, household dumps, and military encampments. Littering the area around the 100 K Area are historic sites containing the remains of farms. Four historic sites and three isolated finds have been recorded as of 1994. Two important linear features, the Hanford Irrigation Ditch and the former Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroad, are also present in the 100 K Area. Remnants of the Allard whistle stop and the Allard Pumphouse at Coyote Rapids are located west of the K reactor compound. The most common evidence of historic activities now found near the 100 N Area consists of gold mine tailings on riverbanks and historic archaeological sites where farmsteads once stood.

In the 200 Areas, the only evaluated historic site is the former White Bluffs freight road that crosses diagonally through the 200 West Area. The road, which was formerly an Indian trail, has been in continuous use since antiquity and has played a role in Euro-American immigration, development, agriculture, and the Hanford Site operations. This property has been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register although a segment passing through the 200 West Area is a non-contributing element.

Only one historic site, a trash scatter, has been recorded in the 300 Area, but within 2 km (1.2 miles) of the 300 Area fence are nine historic sites. They consists mostly of debris scatters and road beds associated with farmsteads. Several more historic sites may be expected in this outlying area (Cushing 1995). Historic cultural resources have been identified in or near the 1100 Area and these consist mostly of farmsteads, homesteads, and agricultural structures predating the Hanford Site. No pre-Hanford Site historic properties have been recorded in the 3000 Area but farmsteads and remnants of the former North Richland town site may be found there (Cushing 1995).

Thursday, July 4, 2024

My Holy Grail? The Original Trestle At Trinidad

Thanks to Thomas Ogle and Dean Ogle for finding this and sharing. I've ordered a higher resolution copy to see the details of the background better.

Photo is part of the Special Collections archive at the University of Washington.

Note on the photo: Harry H. Dean (November 11, 1868- December 7, 1946) was born in Iowa and was hired by the Great Northern Railway in 1885 to work in the construction of the railway through the Cascades. He later worked as an engineer on the route and continued to work for the railroad until he retired in 1939.