The fertile lands and proximity of Parker’s Landing for transporting milk and butter by steamboat to Portland, Oregon, made Parkersville and Washougal key locations for dairy farms. The dairy legacy at Parkersville and nearby is celebrated with ice cream at the annual Parkersville Day event held at Parker’s Landing Historical Park. Ice Cream Renaissance will be serving this year on Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 12 pm to 3 pm.
There were several well-known, historic locals who operated dairies.
SHEPHERD – According to the 1880 census, David Shepherd, a 57-year-old dairyman, was a naturalized citizen and married to Helen. Both Helen and David were born in Scotland, David around 1823. They lived and farmed on a donation land claim adjacent to the Ough land claim. David Shepherd and his sons also operated and maintained the earliest graves in the Pioneer Cemetery, now Section A at Washougal Memorial Cemetery.
GOOT – Albert Goot, Sr., born in Switzerland in 1857, milked 35 cows at his Goot Swiss Dairy in Washougal after his arrival around 1889. His dairy was located on part of the original Parker and Ough land claims. On his farm, he also raised potatoes, oats, and hay. A portion of his land is now Goot Park, 303 SE Zenith Street in Camas, near the Washougal River Waterway.
WEBBER – Washougal’s first mayor, Morris Webber, was a pioneer and dairy farmer. A few weeks after Washougal’s incorporation in 1908, Morris Webber and Albert Goot, Sr. opened the Columbia Condensed Milk Company. The company put in a deep well with a storage tank and gained the franchise rights to provide the town’s water. Water rates were 1.25/household/month. By 1910, Morris owned a 600-acre dairy farm on Lady Island.
YINGER – The Yinger Family, noted in the newspaper for their fifteen children, started the Steigerwald Dairy in 1913. They operated a dairy herd in the Steigerwald Lake floodplain, keeping cattle in a large barn located at the present-day Bi-Mart store.
WRIGHT – David William (D.W.) Wright, a dairy farmer and son of pioneers Emily Durgan and Stephen Wright, Sr., came across the plains in a covered wagon, drawn by a team of oxen when he was three years old. He also served on the first Washougal City Council in 1908. Stephen Grover Wright, David’s nephew, and Nina May Wright Chevron’s brother, was also a dairyman living in Washougal.
CHEVRON – Nina and Lou C. Chevron moved into the VanVleet home at Parker’s Landing in 1931, and established Parker’s Landing Dairy, also called Chevron & Sons. Their dairy truck read, Grade A Milk, L. C. Chevron, Parker’s Landing Dairy. Nina May Wright, born on April 22, 1895, married Louis Charles Chevron on December 25, 1911. The dairy sold raw milk before pasteurization started. In 1942, Lou and Nina Chevron sold their prize-winning dairy herd due to wartime gas rationing. After the cows and equipment were sold, Nina and Lou renovated and moved into the “little green milk house,” adding a kitchen and bathroom to it. Their son, Vernon, and his family remained in the bigger house. Nina lived in Washougal until age 95.
Daily milking, separating the cream, and churning butter, initially done by hand was a lengthy process. Visit Two Rivers Museum, Washougal, to see the equipment used during hand milking.
In the 1940s, milking machines allowed farmers to milk multiple cows simultaneously and grow their herds. At one time, Clark County boasted about nearly 200 dairy farms. Only one remains.
Learn more about local dairy history at Parkersville Day!
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