Seth Luelling hauling wheat down the Mecca Grade - 1917
The Grade still connects to the Deschutes River below our family farm
Our family comes from a long, unbroken line of agriculturists, reaching back to the original Luelling \loo·ell·ing\ family: Quaker plantation owners who were farming in North Carolina before the Revolutionary War. They also happened to be staunch abolitionists, which didn't set well with their slave-owning neighbors.
As the Civil War loomed near, the family pushed westward, establishing an orchard and several Underground Railroad stops in the town of Salem, Iowa. Without written records it is difficult to count the number of slaves that the Lewellings helped escape from Missouri.
In 1847, Henderson Luelling (never one to sit still) filled two wagons with charcoal, manure, earth and 1000 grafted fruited trees: including apples, pears, plums, cherries, quinces and grapes.
In spite of everyone's advice that he would never make it across the Plains - Henderson, his entire family, and 800 of the original 1,000 grafted fruit trees survived their journey on the Oregon Trail. Luelling established his orchard on 100 acres in the community of Milwaukie, which is now the site of the Waverly Country Club.
The first fruit from the orchard was picked in 1851. The population of Portland at time was 851 people, most of them apparently salivating for fresh fruit...Luelling sold his first trunkful at $1/apple. In today's money, that would be $30/apple.
Ultimately, Luelling's fruit trees became the parent stock of most of the orchards in Oregon's Willamette Valley. He is considered the father of the Pacific Northwest fruit industry.