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Oregon Girls Exchange Photos for Alaskan Gold Nuggets

Snowy Butte Orchard just south of Central Point, Ore., hired 16 girls in 1900 to pack apples and pears for 11 hours of daily hard work.

One day the girls learned the boxes of red-skinned Pippen apples they were packing were headed for Alaska.  The girls decided to add notes to the boxes asking how the apples were and if the buyers would exchange a gold nugget for their individual photos.

A reply arrived on Nov. 6, 1900, that read, “Dear Miss Mamie Rippey, Your letter has just been discovered in a box of apples I bought today…The apples are very fine, and you will doubtless be surprised when I tell you that I paid $6 for that one box. I am enclosing a little nugget and would like to have you tell me if you receive it…I am running the North Star restaurant in the central portion of the flourishing little town of Nome [Alaska]. My home is not far from you in Williams Oregon. Hope you will receive the nugget all right. I beg to remain yours truly G. H. Chapman P.S. I hope you will exchange me your photograph for Nome nuggets.”

Source: "A Rich Orchard." Democratic Times 18 Sept. 1902 [Jacksonville Oregon] : 4. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.