Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hops are More Important than you Might Think!

Have you seen today's long front-page article on hops?

It's hop harvest time
It's glorious to see more mainstream attention to hops in culture, in history, and in our agricultural economy.

The article's focus is more on the development and late 20th century influence of the Cascade hop, developed at OSU and featured in what some have said is the most influential modern beer: Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale first released in the late 70s, a few years before Oregon's pioneering brewers were starting in the mid-80s.

The pre-history before the Cascade doesn't get much ink, though:
Early Oregon farmers rarely grew hops for beer.

In the 1800s, before Goschies began growing hops, fresh cones were stuffed into pillowcases to lull children to sleep, used as an antibacterial agent in soap, and served as a homegrown antidepressant.

But as beer popularized, so did hops, and harvests became larger and larger. The Goschie family started growing hops commercially in 1904. By then, brewers were the customers.
That understates the local significance of hops and the scope of hop ranching and hop harvests!

It was featured on the now-demolished First National Bank as for a reason.

Hop Harvest on the now-demolished Belluschi Bank,
relief by Frederic Littman

A similar scene
Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress
Livesley Building
via Wikipedia
Another short-hand way of thinking about it, is that the tallest building in Salem as well as Mahonia Hall, the Governor's mansion, were both built by Thomas Livesley, who made his fortune with hops, and was Mayor.

Hops were a very important ingredient in the development of Salem. They are not merely a flavoring agent in the latest beverage fashions. They have a structural place in our history and are central to our identity, the "there there," what makes Salem Salem, and the wider middle valley.

So here are some other front pages and big articles to give a sense for the significance of hop farming here during its glory days before prohibition. Author of Hoptopia, historian Peter Kopp notes, "From 1905 to 1915, Oregon held the distinction as the nation's largest hop producer."

"Great Future"
September 17th, 1904

"The Prohibition Question"
May 31st, 1906

"Reported Molding"
August 28th, 1907

"Just a Little Story"
May 1st, 1909

"Greatest Hop Section of World"
December 30th, 1911

"May Reduce Acreage"
November 19th, 1914

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