From notable landmarks such as the Barlow Road, which took pioneers along the Oregon Trail up and over Mt. Hood to the Historic Columbia River Highway, which is being restored mile by mile, you don’t have to travel far within Hood River County to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
The stream currently known as Hood River was discovered by Lewis and Clark on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1805, and called Labeasche River, an improvised method of spelling the name of Francis Labiche, one of the French-Canadian watermen. La biche is French for female deer or doe, but in French-Canadian, it frequently was used to mean elk. There is nothing in the journals to indicate that game was seen at this point, and the river was named for the man. In pioneer days some travelers, being in a starving condition, ate dog meat near Hood River, and the unpopular name Dog River was the result, but not because of any suggestiveness of the French name. Later on, Mrs. Nathaniel (Mary) Coe, a well-known pioneer resident of the valley, objected to the name Dog River and succeeded in changing local usage to Hood River on account of Mount Hood, its source.
Hood River Valley is famed for apples and pears which producers there ship in large quantities. The name Dog River is now attached to a small stream that heads in Brooks Meadows about eight miles southeast of Parkdale and flows into East Fork Hood River. In Oct. 1852, an advertisement in the Oregonian says that a road had been cleared from “Dog River to the ferry” which was one of the first on the Columbia. The name Hood River appears on a map as early as 1856.
Originally a part of Wasco County, Hood River County gained its political separation on June 23, 1908 and its boundaries have remained unchanged to the present time. On October 29, 1792, WR Broughton and his men of the Vancouver Expedition discovered and named Mt. Hood, in honor of Lord Hood of British Admiralty. In 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition named the glacial stream now known as the Hood River. Nathaniel and Mary Coe were the original owners of a 319 acre government land grant bordered on the east by (what is now) Front Street, on the north by the Columbia River, on the west by Thirteenth Street, and on the south by May Street.
In 1854 the Nathaniel Coe family filed a land claim on acreage now part of the City of Hood River. They were soon followed by the William Jenkins family and the Denson family. Coe was one of the first to plant fruit trees in the Hood River Valley. Apple orchards flourished in this rich valley from 1890 to 1920, and Hood River became famous for its apples. But in 1919 many apple trees were struck by a killing freeze. Farmers replaced the apple trees with pear trees, and now Hood River County is one of the leading producers of Anjou pears in the world.