Ohop Valley

The Malms of Ohop Valley

Lena & John Malm, 1930
Lena & John Malm, 1930

I never met Lena and John Malm, but I feel like I’ve known them all my life. My grandparents, Louie and Anna Mettler,  purchased their dairy in Ohop Valley the 40s. My folks, Louie and Kathy Mettler, built on the land in the early 1960s and the dairy continued into the 70s. Today my folks raise organic beef there.

I grew up on the same fields the Malms farmed and today I live there too. In fact, today I was down in the valley checking on a new born calf.  Although today the Pruitt family lives in the original Malm home, I looked up from the valley, next to the cow and calf, knowing that the Malms, my grandparents, my parents and myself have all shared this same experience in this same spot.

Another thing that makes me feel close to Lena and John is that were were both married in Ohop Valley — although almost 100 years apart. They were married in 1905, and Chris and I were married in 2002.

I wish I’d met them, but in a way I feel like I have.

Below is the article that ran in the Dispatch in 1955 when they celebrated their 50th Anniversary. (I especially like they had the phonograph there that played music at their wedding.)

Malm 50th Wedding Anniversary from the Dispatch
Malm 50th Wedding Anniversary from the Dispatch

“More than 160 friends and relatives gathered at the social hall of the Community Methodist Church to offer congratulations and to join in celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. John Malm on Wednesday afternoon, December 28 [1955].

Gold was the predominant theme in the decorations. A ceterpiece of gold chrysanthemums graced the serving table. Baskets of foliage highlighted by gold flowers and a mantel arrangement of forest greens accented by large gold candles added to the holiday air.

The same phonograph that furnished music for the wedding in 1905 provided several of the same tunes to the delight of the younger set. When they were not receiving, the honor couple occupied the same love seat that helped furnish their first home in Ohop Valley. 

Wedding Crown
Mrs. Malm wore a hand wrought gold filigree wedding crown provided by a friend for this special occassion. Mr. Malm wore a matching boutonneie of the same design. The crown was a copy of the original Geramn wedding gown.

Lena Malm as a young girl
Lena Malm as a young girl

Pouring for the occasion were Mrs. Andrew Anderson of Tacoma and Mrs. Guerney Van Eaton of Sliver Lake, assisted by Mr. Ethel Jacobson. The wedding cake was served by Mrs. Harry Hicks of Everette, cousin of the bride, and Miss Charlotte Kjelstad had charge of the guest book.

A program of songs and music furnished entertainment for the afternoon. Dick Taylor sang “”He” and “Take My Hand” accompanied by Mrs. Jonas (Helen) Asplund. Carolyn Burwash played the flute, including selections of Scandinavian music, also accompanied by Mrs. Asplund. Maxine Games sang “Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet,” accompanied by Mrs. Cyrus Jensen. Harriet Ittner of Seattle sang “Silver Threads Among the Gold”. The Rev. J. W. Reynolds offered a few appropriate remarks.

Messages Received
Guests from out-of-state were Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Lake from Eugene, Ore., who had been friends of the Malms during the years they lived in Eatoville. Among the message of congratulations received was a telegram from Mrs. Norman J. Bruen of Wading River, N.Y., who lived here many years ago when her husband was the first cashier of the Eatonville State Bank, and Mrs. George Ingersoll, widow of the early day Eatonville merchant, now living in Tacoma, tlepehoned them she was unable to be present at the party.

Lena's first boat ride at Seal Rock in 1939
Lena's first boat ride at Seal Rock in 1939

Arrangements for the festivities were made by Mrs. James Carlson, sister of Mrs. Malm, and her two daughters, Mrs. Steve Packer of Eatonville and Mrs. Don Journey of Spokane. 

Photos courtesy of Steve Burwash.

Click on images to enlarge.

A look at Ohop Bob, Told by its Waitresses

Ohop Bob ca. 1930
Ohop Bob ca. 1930

Ohop Bob was an upscale restaurant, banquet hall and motel, all wrapped up in one. Originally built by a cycle club, it was further developed in 1914 by the Washington Automotive Club for their two-day trips from Tacoma to Longmire. (Per Upper Nisqually Valley.)

It was open weekends and during the summer, and visitors had a spectacular view of Ohop Valley. And how could they not? The building was constructed on the hillside and suspended over the valley below.

“When you walked out on the balcony you could feel the building give a little,” says Rosemarie Van Cleve, who waitressed at Ohop Bob in her teens.

One meal
The place was famous for its chicken dinners  — the only dinner they served.

Ohop Bob, the early years
Ohop Bob, the early years

Sally McKay, who also waitressed as a teenager in the 40s, says, “I remember peeling potatoes and slicing them thin. And when people came we would tell them it would be half an hour because we cooked everything fresh.”

Sharon (Guske) Aguilar, who waitressed a decade later said the meal never changed. “The were very particular. Even the lettuce leaves had to be just so.”

What did change was the hourly wage. Sally and Rosemarie made about 50 cents an hour, and Sharon made 75 cents.

The Owners
For most of its years Ohop Bob was run by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Josselyn. They ran a tight ship and Sally recalls Mr. Joslyn as very staid and tall. “There was a small rose bush out back and he always wore a small bud in his lapel.”

View of Ohop Valley
View of Ohop Valley

However, all three recall Mrs. Josselyn’s cigarette dangling precariously from her lips while cooking chicken.

A lot happened at Ohop Bob over its 50+ years, and the waitresses remember fun times, like Rosemarie being asked to grab her accordion to entertain guests.

“Once when I was sweeping the front porch this guy came. He had a long beard and rode a bicycle,” says Sally. “His name was Pruner Carlson. He was kind of a strange guy who rode around and pruned trees. He wanted some food and I snuck some out to him. When I went back on the porch he had left me a start of a little plant. I thought that was so nice.”

Rosemarie recalls yodeling from the balcony to get home. The family dairy was on the other side of the valley. “Dad [Louie Metter Sr.] would know when I was done and listen for me.”

Up in Flames
In May 1965 the building burned. Arson was suspected. “You could see the glow in the sky from Eatonville,” says Rosemarie. “The old timbers must have gone up like kindling.”

But the memories remain.

Photo courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click on image to enlarge.



Torger Peterson’s Original Ohop maps

Torger Peterson's original 1885 map of the Washington Territories
Torger Peterson's original 1885 map of the Washington Territories

For those of you who need a quick Torger Peterson 101, he was the man who first settled in Ohop Valley. He wrote a small story about the account in this post.

I got a chance to talk to his great granddaughter this week, Linda Lewis. Along the many pictures and documents he had, this map was hanging on her wall.

Pictured is the 1885 Washington Territory map Torger used to settle in Ohop. You can see his drawings on the map, including a little square around Ohop — or where Ohop will one day be.

Here are his words in 1925 — a little over 35 years after he made his way to Ohop.

“I found the Valley in the summer of 1887 and moved my family out there in April, 1888. At that time it was one of the worst wilderness that it was possible to find, and after we had gotten out some logs and brush so that a wagon could travel, it took us three days to go from Tacoma to my home in the Ohop Valley.

You can see a little square (center left) where Torger has marked the future Ohop Valley
You can see a little square (upper center left) where Torger has marked the future Ohop Valley

“I remember friends of ours told my wife that I had gone crazy and for her not to go out there, after a while I would get tired and come back. My wife however said she had never found me crazy and laughed at our friends and said she would stay by me.

“After we had cleared up some land, the main thing was to get a road, and the County helped us in this way; for every day we worked gratis, they would give us $2.00 a day for the following day, and this is the way the first road was built into the Ohop Valley and beyond.”

Photos courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click to enlarge.






1885 map of the Washington Territory — Washington wouldn't become a state until 1889
1885 map of the Washington Territory — Washington wouldn't become a state until 1889

Ohop Valley — early 1900s

Ohop Valley in the early 1900s
Ohop Valley in the early 1900s

When you hear about Ohop Valley, you probably think of the Pioneer Farm or the Nisqually Land Trust, where they are doing a lot of restoration work on the creek.

Up until the 1980s through, the valley was primarily farming country.  Dairies were sprinkled from one end to the others, and fields were growing corn and hay.

Valley founder, Toger Peterson's home
Valley founder, Toger Peterson's home

The first shot is an overview of the valley. The second is of the home of Toger Peterson. He was the first to come out and survey the valley. The property is now owned by the Nisqually Land Trust.

Photos courtesy of Rich Williams.
Click on images to enlarge.


Toger Peterson — A Race to Settle Ohop Valley

Below are the words of Toger Peterson — an Ohop Valley settler and an early County Commissioner.

He wrote this around 1925, and speaks about the race to settle Ohop Valley as well as work on the Ohop Creek. (Text courtesy of Gary Hendrickson, photos courtesy Pat Van Eaton)

Work on Ohop Creek in the 1ate 1800s
Work on Ohop Creek in the late 1800s

In the summer of 1886, during the time I was not working at anything else, I built a boat in October the same year, in the company with five other friends, went down Puget Sounds near Cape Flattery looking for land. We saw several places which would give five to ten acres of agricultural land, but I made up my mind that I would have land enough for a farm, or none at all.

The 4th of July, 1887, in company with a man, whose name I have forgotten, I took a trip southeast from Tacoma and found the Ohop Valley.

Surveying Ohop Valley
I returned to Tacoma to again work, and in August of that year, in the company with Erick Anderson, went out and started to survey from the nearest surveyed land, and ran a line down to the lower end of Ohop Lake.That was as much surveying as I could do at that time and I had to go back to work.

Erick Anderson stayed at the Lake and built a shake cabin, and in January, 1888, in company with Herman Anderson and Ole Halverson, we went out to select our land. We found out on the trip that a number of Texas people had left Hillhurst for the Ohop Valley the same morning that we left Tacoma.

Men at work on Ohop Creek — 1889
Men at work on Ohop Creek — 1889

The Race is On
It then became a race and I made up my mind that if the Texas people had located, we would turn back; and on the other hand, if we would be ahead of them, we would stand our ground against any odds. The morning we left Tacoma, the 6th of January, it began to snow. We camped in the woods that night and in the morning there was about a foot of snow, but we kept on going and started to survey from the point where I had left off in August, close to the Ohop Lake.

We surveyed down the Valley, which was flooded, and sometimes we would get into beaver dams and in water up to our armpits. I remember Herman Anderson hesitated about going into the water for fear his watch might stop. We finally located Section 18, which would be Government land, during the snow storm, and built a little shake cabin, and when the storm was over, we saw the track of the Texas people in the snow a few hundred feet away from our little shack. They had camped during the snow storm while we were working and surveying and getting located. When these Texas people, that later became our neighbors and friends, talked about the race we had made, they said that when they found we had located they went somewhere else.

Taking Ohop Valley from Swamp to Pastures in 1889
Taking Ohop Valley from Swamp to Pastures in 1889

Settling the Valley
We three then began to build a house for ourselves and started in to get our logs and brush for a road so we could get provisions in. In order to get the wagons down Ohop Hill, I bought about three hundred feet of one inch manila rope and tied it to the hind axle of the wagon and lowered the wagon down as the hill was so steep that rough locks would not hold it. During the spring and summer of 1888 Mr. and Mrs. Emil Jacobson, Edwin Anderson, Peter Dabroe and Elias Hong settled in the Valley. In 1889 Edward Simonsen bought out Elias Hong and Henry Kaelstad settled in the lower part of the Valley. Finally John Larsen bought Mr. Simonsen’s place and Louis Grundell bought the place of Peter Debroe, and Salve Jensen got half a section of railroad land that Emil Jacobson claimed, making 80 acres a piece.

Since that time, some of the settlers above named have sold out part of their land to others so that the whole valley from Nisqually river to the Ohop Lake is all occupied. When I first came out to the Ohop Valley all the timber East of the Valley, the Mashell Mountain and clear to the Cascade Mountains in every direction was vacant and unsurveyed. Timber at that time was almost valueless, as for example, the Northern Pacific Railroad Company would sell timber land to the people at $2.50 an acre and if there was a little swamp or agricultural land on the quarter section, they would charge $8.00 an acre, showing to me that they thought the timber was of no value, but people had come in and settled on this timber land until in a couple of years every quarter section of timber was taken up as a homestead, and then after the land was surveyed and a patent secured, they sold out to the big timber companies.

Ohop Settlers adjust Ohop Creek - 1889
Ohop Settlers adjust Ohop Creek – 1889

Now we settlers of the Ohop Valley I think had about as hard a times and showed about a much grit as the Vikings of old every showed. And in my opinion, the women who stayed by us in the early history of the Valley settling should wear a crown. They stood by us in poverty and hardship and made no complaint. In the early times, it took us three days to make the round trip to Tacoma, while now we make it in three hours.

Dealing with the Flooding — Moving a Creek
After living in the Ohop Valley for a year, I told my wife that I supposed we had made a mistake as I couldn’t see how we could get rid of the floods, as every time we had a little rain, the valley would be under water. She said she was sorry if we had to leave and asked if it wasn’t possible to turn the water of the main creek some other way. I told her I had not thought about it, but she had put an idea into my head, and I then proceeded to find the head of Ohop Creek.

I found that the on the divide between Lake Ohop and Lake Kapowsin that is was just as easy for the water to run into Lake Kapowsin and down the Puyallup as it was to run down the Valley. Finally, after a long struggle, I secured permission [in 1889]  form the St. Paul Company and Judge Wickersham, who claimed 80 acres, to turn the main Ohop Creek into Lake Kapowsin, and all the settler in the Ohop Valley from the Nisqually River to Lake Kapowsin, twenty-two strong, turned out and helped turn the water into Lake Kapowsin.

Flooding becomes exception versus norm in Ohop Valley after 1889
Flooding becomes exception versus norm in Ohop Valley after 1889

That made it possible for us to farm in the Valley, and we have recently blasted a new channel, straightening the creek through the Valley where it was crooked, so that now a flood is an exception in place of a rul.

Torger Peterson Finds Ohop Valley and Builds a Road to Rainier

Torger Peterson family
Torger, Asse, and children Anna Elena and Peter

The following is one of two memoires written by Torger Perterson (courtesy of Gary Hendrickson). Torger was an original settler of Ohop Valley and tells here how he came, settled and worked to get a roads in place — including one to Mount Rainier.

Torger Perterson
I was born the 22nd day of January, 1855 on my Father’s farm (Langtvet) in Holtsogn Norway. This farm had reverted from father to son for over three hundred years.

My Father’s name was Peter Haaversen; my Mother’s name was Anna Togesdatter Goderstad.

We had a very good common school, and I was confirmed at the age of 14. From the time I was nine years old, I would herd my Father’s cattle and sheep, and on a high hill out in the woods, I could see the ocean and the ships sailing, and would wish that I might some day go on these ships and see the foreign land.

At the age of 15, I went to sea as a cabin boy at $3.00 per month. The next year I got $4.00 per month. Able seamen $9.00 per month; First Officer $14.00 per month; Second Officer $12.00 month. Captain $50.00 per month and 5% of gross earnings.

When I was 21 years of age, I took my examination as a Navigator and had a Masters’ certificate at that age. The same year I married Aase Elena Olsdatter Goderstad Holtsogn. I sailed as an Officer for a few years and got badly hurt and quit. Went into the logging business and ship building, but the small wooden ships that we would build could not compete with the big steel vessels and steamers, so I made up my mind to go to America, and to the City of Tacoma in the State of Washington. I had heard that Tacoma was just starting up at the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad on Puget Sound and my intention was to build schooners for the Coasttrade.

Torger Peterson
Torger Peterson, County Commissioner

On my trip from Norway to Tacoma, I stopped off in Ashton, Dakota Territory to rest my family and also to visit relatives who lived there, and they persuaded to take up land and go farming.

When I decided to take up land, I went to the County seat 12 miles out on the prairie to take out my intention papers to become a citizen. The Clerk asked me my name, and I told him Torger Peterson Langtvet. He fixed up my papers and I paid him the necessary fee and put the papers in my pocket without looking at them. When I came back to Ashton, I looked over my papers and found that the Clerk had omitted the name Langtvet, and hand my name recorded as Torger Peterson. He no doubt thought that was a good enough name for a Swede.

I made the first wagon track fourteen smiles South from Ashton on the Milwaukee Railroad to the Missouri River, going due West and there I located. The first year’s crop was destroyed by grasshoppers; the second year’s crop was destroyed by a hot wind that lasted three days and cooked everything. I then made up my mind it was about time to go there I originally planned, Tacoma.

Ohop Valley
Ohop Valley

I covered two wagons and went immigrant style up the Missouri River and over the old Government trail; crossed the Missouri on a ferry at Bismarck and drove into Montana where my wife gave birth to a child, which stopped us for a time. As soon as my wife was able to travel, we took the Northern Pacific train and finally landed in Tacoma, broke. After a couple of years of hard work, and after looking over the a good deal of the Western part of this State, I found the Ohop Valley which was then surveyed, but as a Navigator, I surveyed it to my own satisfaction and knew what section I was in, and squatted on it for seven years before the Government finally surveyed it.

Torger Peterson in Canyon
Torger Peterson in the canyon when Canyon was being built.

I found the Valley in the summer of 1887 and moved my family out there in April, 1888. At that time it was one of the worst wilderness that it was possible to find, and after we had gotten out some logs and brush so that a wagon could travel, it took us three days to go from Tacoma to my home in the Ohop Valley. I remember friends of our told my wife that I had gone crazy and for her not to go out there, after a while I would get tired and come back. My wife however said she had never found me crazy and laughed at our friends and said she would stay by me.

The pioneers of Western Washington have all had a hard time of it and I think our lot in the Ohop Valley was as hard as any.

After we had cleared up some land, the main thing was to get a road, and the County helped us in this way; for every day we worked gratis, they would give us $2.00 a day for the following day, and this is the way the first road was built into the Ohop Valley and beyond. It was always a puzzle to me how Norway, a poor country, had such splendid roads, and a country as rich in natural resources as our State of Washington, could get along with such poor roads, not better than a cow trail, and it was my chief object to see if I could not interest the people in getting good roads built so that the farmers could get their product to the markets at a reasonable cost.

Indian Henry Hunting Ground, by Kevin Bacher
Indian Henry Hunting Ground, by Kevin Bacher

In October, 1988, I went in company with Indian Henry and some other Indians up to Mount Tacoma. We went on horseback through brush over logs and finally landed in what is now known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds. It was a clear day and the sun was just setting when we reached the Mountain, and I will never as long as I live forget that sights; such a park surrounded with flowers of all colors and descriptions. And right then I made up my mind to do all in my power to get a road to that Mountain so that the people could see that wonderland and inhale that invigorating Mountain air.

For twenty years I attended every County Convention. At first the people thorugh I was crazy when I mentioned a road to Mount Tacoma, but as years went by I had more and more followers. The Commissioners all promised to help, but each time failed me, so that last I decided to run for Commissioner myself, and was elected and the road was completed.

After the people had been there and seen the wonder, it was not difficult to get all the money necessary and today we have a boulevard from Tacoma to the Mountain.

In addition to serving as County Commissioner, I was elected from the 36th Representative District as Representative and served in the 1917 Session of the Legislature.

My wife and I have five children; three died. Anna Elena and Peter being the only living children.

I am writing this with the thought it mind that in the future my great grandchildren might be interested in knowing where their ancestors came from and who they were.

Torger Peterson

Tacoma, WA

May, 1925

Bomber Goes Missing in 1946

Ohop Valley, Eatonville
Postcard says 25 Marine fliers were lost December, 1946

March, 2011 this postcard appeared on Ebay.com. I purchased in part because I live in Ohop Valley, but also because of the message on top: “25 Marine fliers lost here December 1946. Bodies found summer of 1947.”

After a little research at the Eatonville Library, I found an article about the missing bomber and 32 passengers. (See below.) It didn’t go down in Ohop Valley, but the Rimrocks. And although I went through every pages of the 1947 Dispatches, I never did find anything about recovered bodies.

If you have any information, please post.

Article on Missing Bomber, 1946
Article on Missing Bomber, 1946

A Tale of Two Cabins

A Tale of Two Cabins, by Helen Danforth
A Tale of Two Cabins, by Helen Danforth

The book focuses on three settler families of the 1800s whose preserved log cabins now stand at the Pioneer Farm Museum.

The 54-page book, with many excellent photos, also describes major events and developments that affected the settlers.

You can find the book at the Eatonville Library and it may also be for sale at the Pioneer Farm Museum.

If you like reading about the Ohop Valley, near Eatonville, WA, this a great little read.

History of Southeastern Pierce County

History of Southeastern Pierce County
History of Southeastern Pierce County

History of Southeastern Pierce County
Besides a history of Eatonville, Ohop Valley, Longmire, Ashford, National, Elbe, Alder and LaGrande, this 235-page book also includes 154 photographs, an every-name index to text and photographs and the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Eatonville Dispatch. 252 pp. Velobound. 1989.

Where to Order Your Copy
You can order yours through the Tacoma Pierce-County Genealogical Society for $30.00, plus postage and handling.

The Day Eatonville Almost Went Up in Flames

Photo of Eatonville, WA in the 20's
Eatonville 1920s, provided by Pat Van Eaton

It was September 21, 1924, and the townspeople of Eatonville were battling a string of arsons. Little did they know the real fire was yet to come.

Rumor has it, that afternoon in Alder a Fire Marshall swapped someone at the Cascade Timber Company a bottle of whiskey for a slash fire permit. Despite how the slash fire started, what made it a deadly were the 40 mph winds that picked up shortly after it was set.

The fire swept down the hillsides toward Eatonville, covering swatches half a mile to five miles wide and 15 to 20 miles long. It ravaged its way through Pack Forest, Ohop Valley, jumped roads, traveled through Lynch Creek, and Kapowsin, and set fire to millions of board feet of timber as far as Graham.

The draft from the blaze was so powerful “good sized” fir trees were twisted and pulled up from their roots. Barns, houses, livestock, and logging camps were destroyed in the fire’s path and people frantically worked to save their homesteads.

Eatonville 4th of July parade weeks before the fire (photo courtesy of Pat VanEaton)

Eatonville resident Frank Hoffman says, “Our family was good friends with the Conrads who lost a barn in the fire. Mrs. Conrad worked hard to save their home and I’m not sure if it was the smoke or the heat, but it left her blind.”

By 5 p.m. the fire had completely encircled Eatonville and 500 people had yet to evacuate.

“The late Mrs. Otto Anderson once told of walking down Eatonville’s main street at the hour,” writes Marjorie Hayes in History of Southeastern Pierce County. “There was no sign of life. All the stores were empty and there was no one on the street but Mrs. Anderson and a bewildered cow. The air was full of smoke and ashes which obscured the sky, and there was a lurid glow over everything.”

Mrs. Larry Smith went up to the school to check on her husband, the custodian. Hayes says, “The fire was roaring through the canyon behind the buildings, and the draft was so great that she feared she would be sucked into it and resorted to crawling on her hands and knees.”

Firefighters from Tacoma arrived in time to help save the residences on the north end of Washington Avenue. More equipment arrived from Fort Lewis, right behind Dr. A. W. Bridge who had rushed from Tacoma to his patients at the Eatonville Hospital.

In the end, it was probably Mother Nature who played the biggest part in saving the town. The “freakish” windstorm shifted direction, which kept the fire literally at arm’s length.

Rains came the next day and Eatonville residents returned, relieved to find their town intact.

(Article appeared in The Dispatch, February 2011)