Last Bite--From doctor to farmer
In the early 1910s, John Kloeber had the second largest orchard in the Yakima Valley.
The altimeter on John Kloeber’s label at right shows an altitude of 1,500 feet, a suggestion that fruit grown in orchards at high altitudes is of high quality. Upper right: The Green River Hot Springs and Sanitarium Hotel pictured in 1908.
Yakima Valley apple and pear rancher Dr. John S. Kloeber, unlike many of his contemporaries in the early fruit ranching enterprises, initially had absolutely no interest in a career in agriculture. Born in 1865 in Baltimore, Maryland, he was a member of a family that had immigrated to the United States from the Alsace region on the border of France and Germany. His parents moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, where John completed his public school education before enrolling at the University of Virginia. Deciding that his future lay in the practice of medicine, he ultimately transferred to the University of Maryland from which he graduated in 1888 with a medical degree.
In 1889, he completed postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins Medical University, and in 1890 moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he settled in Seattle and opened a medical office. Kloeber established a successful practice and seemed settled in what was expected to be a long career. But in 1900, he entered a new phase of his life with the construction of the Green River Hot Springs Hotel and Sanitarium, which soon became known as just “The Kloeber.”
Green River Hot Springs was located about 60 miles east of Seattle over Stampede Pass on the Northern Pacific Railroad line, near the town of Lester, and the region’s 27 hot springs were thought to have curative powers. The Northern Pacific had built a railroad station at the site in 1886, and the construction of a bathhouse and small hotel followed two years later. These developments made the 132°F white sulfur hot springs available to the public.
Kloeber’s hotel featured 100 guest rooms, baths, steam rooms, a bowling alley, billiard tables, a tennis court, an orchestra, and one of the most opulent dining rooms of the day. The reputation of the white sulfur hot springs, located just 100 yards from the hotel, grew exponentially. Advertisements for the hotel touted the springs for the treatment of “rheumatism, stomach disorders, nervous troubles, sleeplessness, skin eruptions, and diseases of the blood.” Room prices were $1 to $3 per day, or $5 to $20 weekly, with the higher prices for rooms with connecting bathrooms. The hotel was served by four passenger trains daily in each direction on the Northern Pacific rail line between Yakima and Seattle.
Kloeber ran the hotel for a decade until he sold his interest in 1910. Shortly after the sale, the hotel and sanitarium burned to the ground. Kloeber, who had married in 1908, moved to the Selah area of Yakima County to begin a second successful career as a farmer. He purchased 170 acres of land on Selah Heights and called his new venture Selah Vista.
He planted 110 acres of this property in apples and pears. In 1915, he bought 200 acres of land near Harrah on the Yakama Indian Reservation and used that for general farming purposes. In 1918, he had 120 acres of that land planted in potatoes. At one time, his home place on Selah Heights was the second largest orchard in the Yakima Valley. Kloeber marketed his fruit under two labels—Selah Vista and Altitude. Both are extremely rare.
The Yakima Valley Museum does not own a Selah Vista label (but certainly would like one). The museum’s Altitude label is an archival copy dated 1933. This label is a perfect example of using suggestion on a label to sell the fruit. The altitude of 1,500 feet suggests that this altitude denotes cool nights that will add color to the apple crop and thus higher quality.