In 1869 Robert Cooper and his wife Mary, both immigrants from Scotland, homesteaded on 160 acres on Dry Hollow just south of The Dalles, Oregon. Besides raising horses to portage freight around Celilo Falls on the Columbia River, Robert developed one of the finest fruit ranches in the area, raising a variety of fruits for market. They had 8 children, six girls and two boys. Over time their son George joined his father on the ranch.
In 1898 George married Etta Rowe and purchased an adjoining 40 acres of land to add to the original plot. He and Etta had four children, two boys and two girls. George planted his first cherry orchard in 1903. In a magazine that promoted the reason for living in the beautiful Columbia Gorge, especially in The Dalles area, George reported making a profit of $1,500.87 on his 10 acres of sweet cherries.
George and Etta continued to grow a variety of fruits, focusing more and more on cherries. Their son Glenn joined the farming operation in the early 1920s. By 1929, Glenn had acquired 60 acres of his own, all for growing cherries; the Royal Anne variety for the Maraschino market was his main focus. In 1935 he married Florence Wittliff and they had two sons, both of whom worked on the farm.
As the world market changed, they added many of the new cherry varieties but have always continued to raise high quality Royal Annes for the Maraschino market.
Glenn’s son David, with his wife Karen, moved back to The Dalles in 1970 and in 1983 took over the operation of the orchard. They raised their two daughters on this Century Farm. As the world market changed, they added many of the new cherry varieties but have always continued to raise high quality Royal Annes for the Maraschino market. All of the fruit, both fresh and brine, is handpicked by migrant workers. The harvest would be impossible without these skilled workers. Many of these workers are the third generation of their families to come to Cooper Orchards to work.
Continuing the family tradition today, Robert’s great, great-granddaughter Stacey, the fifth generation of Coopers, is managing the orchards. Besides our own 230 acres of cherries, she also manages 80 acres of leased cherry land.