Lewiston Orchards Life was a neighborhood newsletter published in Lewiston, Idaho during the early 1900s that covered the horticultural and residential events of those living in Lewiston Orchards. Special Collection & Archives at the University of Idaho Library holds fourteen issues as part of their Day Northwest Collection.
Now a residential neighborhood in Lewiston, Idaho, Lewiston Orchards was once a vast commercial garden. The area produced apples, apricots, cherries, berries, plums, pears, quinces, peaches, nuts, lettuce, and grapes in abundance. The “Orchards” grew out of an ambitious land development and irrigation project, which was conceived and undertaken by Harry L. Powers at the turn of the 20th century. After organizing as the Lewiston-Sweetwater Irrigation Company in 1905, Powers and partner Walter Burrell purchased several thousand acres of wheat fields near the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. The two then plotted the acreage into five-acre plots and conducted a blockbuster advertising campaign to sell the land.
The lots sold quickly, and just as the promoters envisioned, the land blossomed with apple and peach trees. Of course, a source of water was necessary to irrigate the naturally arid area. So, Powers and Burrell joined with the Lewiston Land and Water Company to bring water to the fledgling development from the Webb, Sweetwater, and Mission creeks via a complex irrigation system.
However, with the planting of apple orchards throughout the Northwest, the supply of apples soon surpassed demand, and so, many growers in the Lewiston Orchards replaced apples with cherries. Horticulture remained the business of the Lewiston Orchards until the 1940s when crop failures caused by tree disease and bad weather led growers to convert the orchards into suburban lots.
H.H.S. Rowell was a newspaperman who moved to the Lewiston area from Minnesota in 1908. While little is known of the publication he edited, Lewiston Orchards Life, Rowell made quite a name for himself in his adopted hometown. Perhaps he saw the Orchards as an opportunity to pursue his interests in both journalism and horticulture. He was an orchardist for forty years and for twenty-five years he was associated with two Lewiston newspapers: The Teller, and later, The Lewiston Morning Tribune. An active member of the community, Rowell served four years as a member of the Lewiston school board, two terms as justice of the peace, and ten years as secretary of the Lewiston Orchards irrigation district. He died in 1937 at the age of 82.
Bailey, R.G. River of No Return. R.G. Bailey Printing Company, Lewiston, Idaho, 1983.
Matlock, Stephen J. “Gateway to the Lewiston Orchards.” The Journal, Nez Perce County Historical Society, v. 8, no. 1, 1988, p. 3.
Schleicher, Robert. Grape Culture in Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. Lewiston-Clarkston Company and Lewiston-Sweetwater Irrigation Company, Lewiston, 1906.
Images are from Views of Lewiston and the Orchards, Dahlhjelm Company, Lewiston, Idaho, 1909.