Historic Hood River
I don’t usually intentionally post a repeat image, but in the 6 1/2 years since I first posted this I’ve learned quite a bit about Parkertown and I want a chance to share it. In 2016 I started researching the history of mills in Post Canyon as we were trying to rediscover the site where the steam donkey down at the museum was recovered from the woods in 1959. We still haven’t found that location, but I’ve pieced together the goings on in that very busy part of Post Canyon which we now know for recreational trails and county timber operations.
Note the original post shared the location of Parkertown as “near Greenpoint.” It was actually near the intersection of Binns Hill Road and Riordan Hill Road, which is the current location of the Binns Hill staging area. That’s Jack Binns in this photo (above the arrow). He got a road named after him, and Parker got a town. Who would have thought the road name would stick better than the town?
Doug Thieses (Hood River County Forester) and I hope this history will eventually be used to produce some interpretive panels for the forest at the original site. Here’s the raw research, including a bunch of map references for those who like to poke around on the ground. Just let me know what you find!
John Parker and family arrived in Hood River in June 1881. The Coe brothers had just platted four blocks of downtown Hood River, They convinced Parker to build the first downtown buildingâ€” a two story store at First and Oak. Some time after that he bought the Rodgers sawmill. In the second issue of the Hood River Glacier (June 15 1889) it mentions a manâ€™s encounter with a cinnamon bear which he scared off in the direction of what they referred to as “Parkerâ€™s Mill.”
In 1892 John Parker perfected a land patent in the area. The BLM database has it at 2N9E015 but I am not sure section 15 is correct. There are other features we know from newspaper accounts that suggest it was east of there, closer to Ditch Creek. We can probably get a copy of the actual patent deed to clarify.
By 1893 the paper ran a paragraph of â€œParker Mill Notesâ€ describing mill operations in detail. Parker also had an orchard in the area, and a nice house.
We know Jack Binns lived in the area, I believe from about 1892. An 1897 newspaper article refers to him living near Parkerâ€™s Mill.
In July 1892 it was reported the Oregon Lumber Company was moving their Mill A to the “forks of the canyon above Parkers Mill.â€
In 1894, mention is made the Oregon Lumber Company was considering moving the planner from Parkerâ€™s Mill to Viento. I think â€œParkerâ€™s Millâ€ was used a a general descriptor for the area by then. It seems there were at least two mills up there in 1894â€” Parkerâ€™s (originally Rodgers) and the Oregon Lumber Company.
John Parker died in 1897. His widow took in summer vacationers at their orchard near the mill until she eventually moved downtown to the â€œRoe-Parker Houseâ€ (This was the one which was moved to make room for library expansion in 2002, and is now behind Horsefeathers). She lived there from 1905-1929.
In July 1902 it is reported the Davenport Bros. are moving their mill to better timber on the â€œFred Hertz place, above the old Parkers mills.â€ I suspect â€œParkers mills” refers to the one owned by John Parker and the one owned by the Oregon Lumber Company. Fred Hertz had an 1898 land patent on the N 1/2 of the NE 1/4 section of 2N9E023, which is just S of Binns Hill Road SW of the intersection of Binns Hill and Riordan Roads.
In 1904 a new mill was built by Davenport Bros., along with a flume from Greenpoint. I believe Stanley Smith Lumber Company bought the mill a few years later.
Starting in 1904 the newspaper referred to the section as Parkertown, and reported all sorts of agriculture, births, deaths, etc. in addition to sawmill news, so there must have been a reasonable population in the region.
The 1911 Hood River County map shows â€œParkertownâ€ at the intersection of Binns Hill Road and Riordan Hill Road, where the staging area is currently located. Weâ€™ll need to do more research to figure out where the various mills were located, but it is pretty clear there was an active logging community centered at this spot, with at least three mills over time, and it was named for John Parker. Parker wasnâ€™t the first mill operator in the district but his name stuck, and was modernized from Parkerâ€™s Mill to Parkertown about 1904.