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Fruit Cellars and Smoke-Houses Preserve Fruits and Meats


Early settlers in Southern Oregon depended on wild fruits and animals for much of their food.  Longtime Prospect resident Jack Hallenbeak described in an oral history interview how his family stored food for winter.

The family gathered huckleberries and wild blackberries known as dewberries and his father brought peaches from the Rogue Valley. 

Hallenbeak said, “Mother canned about 50 half-gallon jars of huckleberries and probably 30 or 40 of the wild blackberries.  Another 50 or so of peaches … and then … sweet corn, green beans.  All that stuff was canned and put in the (double-walled, sawdust-insulated) fruit room.”

Hallenbeak said, “I think everybody had a better diet than what they do now. Of course, you always had venison. You always butchered a steer or maybe it was a cow in the fall of the year. Butchered several hogs and made your own bacon and hams.”  Meat stayed in the smoke-house. 

He said, “Yes, the old fruit cellar is still up on my folk's old place. It's the only building that's left on it.”  Hallenbeak’s interview was in 1989 when he was 79 years old.

Source:  Recollections: People and the Forest from the 'Upper Rogue' to the 'Dead Indian Plateau'. Vol. III. Medford, Ore.: Rogue River National Forest, 1990. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.