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Nikkei Farmers of the Hood River Area

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Kanshichi Itano

The first Issei to arrive in the Hood River Valley were hired on contract as railroad laborers. Kanshichi Itano and his Japanese crew built the Mt. Hood Railroad from the town of Hood River to Dee, and later extended it to Parkdale. The line transported lumber, passengers, and early apple crops. Merchant and labor contractor Shinzaburo Ban, headquartered in Portland's Nihonmachi (Japantown), brought many Issei to this line of work throughout the Pacific Northwest.

A second group of railroad workers was hired by the Oregon Lumber Company in Dee to build a line and bring in logs from the forests on the north and west sides of Mt. Hood to the Oregon Lumber Company’s sawmill in Dee. Japanese employed at the sawmill lived in company housing on both sides of the river. In its heyday, the mill site had a general store, hotel and post office. A jitney traveled once a day from Hood River, with stops at Pine Grove, Odell, Dee and Parkdale. Residents could make a 14-mile trip into town previously made by horse and buggy. The jitney delivered shoyu and rice or sometimes cases of sardines ordered from Japanese stores in Portland.

Photo: Courtesy of Cliff Nakamura.

Content © Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.

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Kanshichi Itano
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Kanshichi Itano and his Japanese crew built the Mt. Hood Railroad from the town of Hood River to Dee, and later extended it to Parkdale. Courtesy of Cliff Nakamura. For ... More »


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