Last Bite - From timber to apples
Mad River Orchard Company had 240 acres of fruit trees by the 1950s.
Mad River labels reflected the lumber business that preceded development of the Harris orchards.
Arden Harris was a member of a family that pioneered in the development of the lumber resources of the Entiat and Waterville regions of north central Washington State. His father was Charles Albert Harris, a native of Hannibal, Missouri, who was an engineer on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, a real estate entrepreneur, and a contractor for the construction of highways and power plants.
Early in 1888, just a few months prior to his son's birth, Charles Harris started operation of a sawmill on Badger Mountain in north central Washington. This mill cut lumber for the local courthouse and also for Waterville High School. The mill prospered, and in 1892, Harris built a new mill at the mouth of the Entiat River and engaged in cutting badge timbers for the main line of the Great Northern Railroad. Once cut, these timbers were then rafted down the Columbia River to Wenatcheea relatively painless method of lumber transport in those days before construction of the Columbia River dams.
By this time, the Harris family had made their permanent home in Washington State, and Arden Harris attended the public schools of Waterville and Wenatchee. After completing high school in Waterville, Arden entered the University of Washington as a student in the School of Forestry. Arden joined his father in the family lumber business in 1912, and the firm took the name of C.A. Harris and Son. Expansion followed in 1917 with the construction of a sawmill and box factory at Mills Canyon along the Entiat River near Entiat. This mill was later moved to Muddy Creek, and again in 1932 to the new community Ardenvoir, which derived its name from Arden Harris's first name.
However, by the time the Ardenvoir mill was in operation, Arden and his father had already decided to enter the fruit business. Undoubtedly seeing opportunity in this new endeavor, the Harrises started managing a small orchard operation in 1928 at both Manson and Ardenvoir, Washington. Soon, these communities became the center of the Harris business ventures in the Entiat Valley. In 1930, Arden's two sons, Charles and Ardenvoir, joined the company, carrying its family ownership into the third generation. Mad River Orchard Co., Inc., as the fruit company eventually was incorporated, began to grow on an increasingly extensive scale, and by the mid-1950s, the firm had over 240 acres planted in fruit. Mad River became known for its skill in the growing, packing, storing, and sales of apples and pears.
Arden partially retired in the 1940s and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he bought and operated a citrus orchard. His son Charles then took over top management of the lumber and fruit businesses. Charles had graduated from Entiat High School, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington, where he later served on the Board of Regents and of the university, both as a regent and as the board president.
The two designs of the Mad River Orchard Company label, both illustrated here, draw upon the rugged beauty of the Entiat area, indicating to the buyer that Mad River fruit was both beautiful and came from a pristine environmenta pitch that obviously worked as evidenced by the company's success.