Hops Scene, South Yamhill River


This photograph was taken about 1910, depicting a field of hops along the South Yamhill River near Sheridan. The photographer most likely worked for Weister & Co., which photographed many Oregon scenes for the Southern Pacific, the major railroad in western Oregon.

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Oregon’s agricultural production blossomed and changed. Grains, especially wheat, held primacy before 1900, along with apples and other orchard fruits. Hops, used as a flavoring agent in beer, began to be grown commercially in Oregon in the 1870s, and by 1910 the state was a major national producer. The female hop plant produces a resin-infused cone which is dried to produce the product used by brewers. The plant itself is a vine that is grown on tall trellises.

Drying hops for shipment required the construction of dryers, usually tall wooden structures filled with racks on which the cones were spread to dry. A wood-fueled heater sped the drying process. Dryers were a vernacular building type, and similar structures were built to handle various fruits, especially prunes, and nuts, including walnuts and filberts (hazelnuts), which were also increasingly popular crops. Oregon Agricultural College—now Oregon State University—helped produce basic plans for such buildings, which were sometimes cooperatively owned or shared with other farmers.

The photograph depicts a region that had been farmed since the 1850s, but it was used in a railroad company program to attract new farmers and residents to Oregon. Dozens of similar photographs were used in promotional brochures issued by the Sunset Magazine Homeseekers Bureau, an arm of Sunset Magazine, which was founded by Southern Pacific in 1898. In cooperation with local commercial clubs and chambers of commerce, the program spread throughout the West between about 1908 and 1915.

Further Reading:
Dole, Phil. “Farmhouses and Barns of the Willamette Valley,” in Space, Style and Structure: Building in Northwest America, Portland, Oreg., 1974.

Written by Richard Engeman, © Oregon Historical Society, 2005.


Map It


Related Historical Records

Mexican Laborers Pick Potatoes, 1943
Mexican Laborers Pick Potatoes, 1943

This photograph shows Mexican citizens harvesting potatoes in central Oregon during World War II. In 1942, the United States government negotiated with Mexico to import workers in order to alleviate a serious national agricultural labor shortage. The Mexican Farm Labor Program was more commonly known as the Bracero program, translated ...

Mexican Laborers Weed Sugar Beet Field
Mexican Laborers Weed Sugar Beet Field

This photograph shows Mexican citizens weeding and thinning in an unidentified sugar beet field in Oregon, probably in Malheur County, during World War II. In 1942, the United States government negotiated with Mexico to import workers in order to alleviate a serious national agricultural labor shortage. The Mexican Farm Labor ...

Warm Springs hop-pickers at the Templeton hop yard, 1884

Related Oregon Encyclopedia Articles


This entry was last updated on March 17, 2018