History Mystery for Dec. 18-19

Connie Martin, Terray Harmon, Dan Rich, Debbie Tom, Marilyn Urness, Lucile Stephens, Gary Conley and Randy Hildebrand contributed to this report.

Last week’s History Mystery photograph, above, was scanned from a photographic print from the archives of The Reminder, a weekly paper in The Dalles that merged with The Dalles Daily Chronicle in the late 1990s.

The photograph was published Jan. 15, 1982. The caption reads, “Bud McGee, farm manager, walks down the rows of chickens in one of four buildings on the farm. Each building houses 40,000 chickens in six rows of cages.” In the accompanying story, the farm was identified as the Carnation Egg and Poultry Farm, located near Rufus. The operation produced 37 million eggs in 1981. The eggs were available in The Dalles at “My Mart.”

Dan Rich, who grew up in Sherman County, said he remembers working there in the early 80s as a kid, making $2 or $3 an hour pulling chickens. He remembered the manager, Bud McGee. The egg farm was bought out in the late 80s, but the building is still there above Rufus on Scott Canyon Road near the Rufus Sub-Station, he said.

The farm was originally owned by Alan and Niki Tom, said Marilyn Urness. The ranch is on the cliff just above Rufus, to the west. Urness said she and her husband bought the Tom home in The Dalles, and they became good friends. Alan Tom later became a state representative and they were both active participants in the Republican party. That was in the 1950s, or early 1960s.

Debbie Tom wrote, “the picture is the inside  of one of our chicken houses. We built four buildings, housing 164,000 laying hens. We don’t recognize the person in the  photo. We sold the chicken operation in the early 1970s to Carnation, they eventually sold to Willamette Egg. When we had it, it was called Tom Farms.  Seeing that picture brings back lots of memories. Brian and I are living in Prineville now,  but travel through Wasco and Sherman county regularly, reminiscing.”

Lucile Stephens remembered she had a classmate in the 1950s that lived up near there, and worked for the family in the summer.

Gary Conley remembered the Alan Toms chicken farm. “I went up there and got a free load of chicken manure. It stunk so bad all winter around our place we couldn’t hardly stand it.”

Connie Martin recognized Bud McGee as manager of Columbia River Egg Farm.

Randy Hildebrand said the photo was taken in one of the older barns: the newer barns were more automated, with conveyor belts for the eggs and feed. The barns were as long as a football field, he added.

Regarding a previous History Mystery photograph, Conley said Raymond Crabtree was a farmer on Juniper Flats, just north of Maupin. His was the first ranch on west side of the road there, once you traveled out of Tygh Valley onto Juniper Flats. He noted that the fence described as a “criss cross” fence was as a rail fence, a very common fence style in the early days.

History Forums

The annual regional history forums at the Original Wasco County Courthouse begin in February. Program begins at 1:30 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the 1859 courthouse, 410 W. 2nd Place, The Dalles. Admission is free, cookies and coffee will be served. Forums are Saturdays, Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

Women’s Voting Rights in the 1920s is the topic of the first Regional History forum at the Original Wasco County Courthouse Saturday, Feb. 1. “From Radical Idea to Ratification:  Women’s Voting Rights” will be presented by Janice Dilg, state coordinator for an online resource for the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment, which extended voting rights to women. She will tell the story of Sylvia Thompson (D-The Dalles), who introduced the bill ratifying the amendment in the 1920 special session.

The Women of Sorosis is the topic of the second Regional History forum at the Original Wasco County Courthouse Saturday, Feb. 8. Presenter Denise Dietrich Bokum is retired from healthcare management and volunteers at Fort Dalles Museum.  She will share the far-reaching contributions of women leaders in The Dalles who gave Sorosis Park its name and founded the museum in a presentation titled “The Women of Sorosis:  Social ‘Influencers’ of Their Day.”

The  army camp in Rufus is the topic of the third Regional History forum at the Original Wasco County Courthouse Saturday, Feb. 15. Presenter Cal McDermid is director of the Fort Dalles Museum and a Sherman County native. He explores the unique settlement in Old Wasco and later Sherman County, and the role of Camp Rufus in developing technology for bridging the Rhine, in a presentation titled “Rufus and the Army Camp that Helped End World War II.”

Additional forums are planned Feb. 22 and 29.

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