Submitted by Chuck Polance.
There is no telling where determined Western Cascades Fruit Society members will go to search for “hidden treasure!” Five members of the Seattle and Tahoma Chapters teamed up to search for a legendary abandoned orchard in Ft. Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.
Armed with research from the internet, tales from locals and old brittle maps of the fruit belt, they climbed the hills and explored winding paths in search of the overly mature fruit trees.
They didn’t know what they would “discover” when suddenly doubt turned to euphoria! EUREKA!! From there, it was a challenge to identify the few remaining fruit on the derelict trees. “This looks like a 50-year old King apple tree…look at this decaying pear tree… way past their prime and struggling to stay alive and still standing!?!” I said yes, we have entered a fruit tree graveyard.
OH! Let me regress for a minute. In 1932, Western State Hospital built Hill Ward as a dormitory for several dozen male patients. The patients lived in the facility full-time and maintained an extensive orchard as part of their occupational therapy program.
When the building closed in 1965, the fruit trees were abandoned. Heavy vegetative growth took over so some of the trees are barely visible. But, there is hope! Signs of restoration are present.
So, if you are ever in the mood to explore, try discovering this historical part of Lakewood’s past for yourself!Print This Post