White Salmon History: The Jewett’s and the Suksdorf’s

I have a Google Alert setup for the term “white salmon”, so every day, I get an email when a bunch of links to pages that Google has ferreted out for me off the internets. Most of the time the results just aren’t that interesting, but sometimes a gem comes through. Over the weekend, it picked up a post off a blog called “The Plummer Family Meets the Billette Family”, which copied and pasted something from the town paper of record, The Enterprise. They didn’t link it, and I couldn’t find the original article online.

For those that grew up in the White Salmon area, it’s pretty interesting. This is the kind of stuff that should be taught in the local schools, I think: local history. For some reason, it’s almost always ignored, but I think it would find a more receptive audience than a lot of world history does. (Personally, I love almost all history, but I do understand that most people find non-personal history boring, to say the least.)

Anyway, the piece goes on to describe the original settling of the area by the Jewett’s and the Suksdorf’s, and their nascent rivalry that still continues today. I think that this is the most interesting — and telling — part of the article, though:

At one time Sam Hill tried to buy the Jewett land on which to build his mansion. The agreement was written up and signed, but when Sam Hill proposed a drink to celebrate his new purchase, the agreement dissolved as Mrs. Jewett strongly opposed drinking. He was to have paid $80,000 for the land on which could have been build the now famous Maryhill Museum.

The start of a series of poor business decisions by the White Salmon leadership. Here’s an interesting aside: the same kind of decision was made in 1950 when the City had the opportunity to buy (in whole or in part) the Hood River Bridge, and turned it down. In large part due to that decision, wind surfing’s mainland capital is Hood River, and White Salmon/Bingen gets a pass in the travel guides.

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