Welches Oregon Pioneer Homesteaders

Here’s a photo of the first Welches Oregon pioneer homesteaders. This is probably one of the earliest photos of the Welches area, certainly of the early residents and is an important piece of Welches Oregon history.

Front row from left – Billy Welch and Firmer Walkley. Standing from the left – August Hornecker, Sam Welch, John Copper and Ira Welch.

Photographed at the Walkley homestead near the junction of Welches Road and Bridge Street. The Walkley homestead was where Tawney’s Mountain Home was located. Tawney’s was built in 1909 and was a destination for many visitors to the area until 1949 when it was closed. The old hotel finally fell into the ground and was demolished sometime around 1955.

The Welch’s Ranch Welches Oregon

Welches Oregon before tourists

Back before Welches Oregon became a destination it was a ranch, Samuel Welch and his son Billy homesteaded adjoining 160 acre sections of the Salmon River Valley on the southern side of Mount Hood. In 1889 Samuel had passed and Billy slowly converted the ranch to a resort with a hotel and facilities for campers, hikers, hunters and fishermen. In time even a golf course was developed from Billy’s pasture.

This is a great old photo of the ranch before it became a resort. In it you can see what is now Welches Road. On the left side is the pasture and the old barn. On the right side of the road is the Welch home which would become the hotel and more barns and outbuildings.

It’s fun to look back into the past and compare this area to what it is today.

Welch's Ranch
Welch’s Ranch Welches Oregon

Mrs Pierce of Welches Killed a Bear With a Hoe
Mrs Pierce of Welches Killed a Bear With a Hoe – I have spent a lot of time talking with old timers and family

Mrs Pierce of Welches Killed a Bear With a Hoe

Mrs Pierce of Welches Killed a Bear With a Hoe – I have spent a lot of time talking with old timers and family members of those who have lived up here in the Mountain Community for quite a few years now. In one or two conversations I’ve heard tell of a woman who gained local notoriety for killing a bear that invaded her space with a garden hoe. That’s right a woman killed a bear with a hoe.

This afternoon while perusing newspaper archives I happened across this newspaper clipping. Well what do you know? It’s a true story.

The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland Oregon) 20 March 1915

“Gresham Outlook: When Mrs. Pierce of Welches killed a bear with a hoe last Saturday she set an example for all the people of the mountain country. The usual plan of warfare on bears is a good dog and a trusty rifle, but it has been proved that they are no longer needed. The sport should become popular now, because everyone can afford a hoe, and bears are plentiful.”

Welches Oregon Bear Hoe Portland Oregon Daily Journal 20 March 1915
Welches Oregon Bear Hoe Portland Oregon Daily Journal 20 March 1915

How to survive a bear encounter (and what to do if it all goes wrong …
Jul 21, 2016 You’re more likely to die from a tick bite or a bee sting than to you are to be killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone park, but here are a few tips …

Reliance Mt Hood Stages

Reliance Mt Hood Stages – First Autos to Mount Hood

Reliance Mt Hood Stages – In the early days of the road to Mount Hood, after the immigrant era, the road allowed the burgeoning new city of Portland to access the mountain for recreation. Mountain climbing and hiking the trails in the foothills in those days was the primary activity in the area. Skiing had yet to become an activity on the mountain.

Reliance Mt Hood Stages
Reliance Mt Hood Stages advertising

Automobiles were starting to become a practical means of transportation, but was still primitive. Most people didn’t own a car which gave stage companies an opportunity to carry fun seekers to and from the lodges and roadhouses on Mount Hood. This also gave inn keepers an opportunity to host these people because a trip to Mount Hood wasn’t a simple day trip. Many times a trip to The Mountain was a week minimum investment in time.

Lodges such as Arrah Wanna, Welches Ranch, Tawney’s Mountain Home, La Casa Monte, The Rhododendron Tavern and the Government Camp Hotel all sprang up due to a need to recreational lodging.

The flyer below gives a great representation of the mileage, the lodging available and cost of a trip to the mountain.

Those days were primitive and simple and difficult compared to this day and age, but the life that was lived seems much more fun and adventure filled than the way we live today.

Mt Hood By Motor Stage
Mt. Hood – South Side
Reliance Mt Hood Stages
Mountain Division
“The Mt. Hood Line”
10th Season of Reliable Service

Owned and Operated by
Irvington Garage and Auto Co. Inc.
J. L. S. Snead, Pres,-Mgr. Phones: East 0135 East 3410
Tickets, Reservations and Waiting Room at
Stage Depot
Park and Yamhill Streets
Phone Main 8611

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

A signature of William “Billy” Welch from 1902

A Message from William “Billy” Welch from the grave.

A signature of William “Billy” Welch from 1902. This was prior to the establishment of Welches as a town. Billy seems to have been in a grim mood when he wrote this. Sadly his wife Mamie Kopper would die soon after.

“Salmon River

Jan 8, 1902

Think of me when this you see
Though in this world I may not be
But if my grave should be my bed
Remember me when I am dead.

Yours Truly

W. Welch”

I wonder if he really thought that people would be thinking of him over 100 years later? 

William Welch Epitaph Salmon Or 1902
William Welch Epitaph Salmon Or 1902 -A signature of William Welch from 1902

Welches Ranch, Welches Oregon

Here’s a great early view of the old Welches Ranch at Welches Oregon.

This view is after Sam had gone. You can see the store, post office, the dance hall and the white canvas tourist tents lined up along the road to the left of the Welch home. Billy’s cow pasture, which is now the golf course at the resort, is at the left side while his orchard can be seen on the right side of the photo.

When this photo was taken there was only a sign out at the Barlow Road, where the modern shopping center is presently located, directing people to turn south and drive to Welches Ranch one mile away.

Villages of Mt Hood Post Offices

The Villages of Mt Hood Post Offices

What gives a town, or in this case a village, its identity? In most cases it’s the establishment of a post office. Many feel that the establishment of a post office is truly that which makes a settlement a town or a village. The case is no different here on The Mountain, as each of our villages have been identified in that very same way. That identity still exists in places that no longer have a post office, such as Zigzag, Wemme and Faubion.

One might think that Welches, being the center of attention in our area, would have been the first post office to be established here, but it was actually the roots of the present day Brightwood post office that makes that claim. Samuel Welch, a local pioneer and Welches namesake’s first venture in the area was a hotel and general store in what was then called Salmon, Oregon, with a post office being established in 1891. His hotel was located near the present west end of Brightwood Loop near the Salmon River, and it wasn’t until 1910 that the name Brightwood was adopted. At that point in time it was located inside of McIntyre’s General Store near its present location. The Brightwood Post Office was discontinued in 1914 but reestablished in 1925.

The next in line as one travels east was Wemme. Named for E. Henry Wemme, the benefactor of the old Barlow Road, its post office was established in 1916. Wemme was discontinued upon the establishment of the new Welches post office in 1977.

First Welches Post OfficeThe Welches post office was established at the Welch’s Ranch in June of 1905 with Linny Kern as the postmaster. Billy Welch succeeded Kern as postmaster in 1910 and served until 1940 when his wife Jennie took over. Jennie, for years the local matriarch, served until 1960 when the Welches post office was closed. The Welches post office was re-established in 1977. The original plan, at that time, was to move the Wemme post office into a new building on Welches Road, thus threatening to re-name Welches to Wemme. Because of the local outcry the postal service changed their plans and named the new post office Welches, thus insuring the perpetuation of its true identity.

In 1909, a post office was established in the little town of Rowe. Named for Henry S. Rowe, an ex-mayor of Portland who built the old Rhododendron Inn, the post office was located in Dad Miller’s store. The Rowe post office name was changed to Zigzag in 1917.

Dad Millers Store

The Zigzag post office existed as its own entity until 1964 when it became a rural delivery station for the Rhododendron post office. Although the mail was sorted at Rhododendron, the mail was postmarked “Zigzag Rur St”. The Zigzag post office closed for good in 1974.

The Rhododendron post office was established in 1920 and is still operating today.

The Faubion post office, which was located in the old Cedarwood Store on what is now Faubion Loop operated from 1924 to 1932 and was operated by William Faubion, Jennie Welch’s father.

Please take some time to send a postcard to friends or relatives. Our postmasters on The Mountain are all friendly down to earth folks that would love to have you drop in. They will also remind you that they need your business to continue their existence.