Category Archives: Oakville, Capital Forest and the Black Hills

Dreamers, Loggers and Trains-Capital Forest’s Early Years

Feature photo above – Bordeaux logging camp train, 1906, Clyde Cummings, engineer.  Photo from the Washington State Historical Society.

The Early Settlers

The 1870s brought the first logging claims to the Black Hills region of southwest Washington Territory.   The Black Hills got their name from the dark shadows that frequently covered the thick forested slopes.

This area would eventually become Capital State Forest–named for its close proximity to the state capital of Olympia.

In 1880, a Utopian society from Brooklyn, New York tried to settle in the area.  Most of the group didn’t last the first winter.

However, New York names like Central Park and Brooklyn still dot the nearby areas.  Undeterred by that group’s misfortunes, more Utopian groups arrived in the Puget Sound area over the next few decades.

Serious logging of the Black Hills began in the 1880s and 1890s.  Washington became the 42nd state in 1889, and Congress granted the new state 5,000 acres in what was to become Capital Forest.

A lower elevation logging camp was set up in 1898, in what would become the town of Bordeaux.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Bordeaux’s population grew to 500.

Bordeaux Logging Camp
Bordeaux Logging Camp

1902 saw the first of a series of devastating wildfires in the logging hills. Continue reading Dreamers, Loggers and Trains-Capital Forest’s Early Years

Dairy technology: happy cows, clean environment, and better milk

Better dairies through technology

Washington’s family dairy farmers are finding creative new ways to use technology to produce a higher quality milk at a lower cost.

That is particularly important now, with world dairy prices again sinking downward.

Our state’s dairy farmers also work to make the best use of dairy manure, while minimizing the farm’s impact on the environment.

Robotic milking

Austin Farm
Austin Farm, 320 Elma Gt Rd

Austin Dairy Farm near Oakville has been in the family for nearly 140 years.  They are located just west of the southwest corner of Thurston County, right off Highway 12 at 320 Elma Gate Road.

Austin Farm produces certified organic milk for Organic Valley.  They are proud to be a Washington Dairy Farmer’s “Dairy of Merit.”

In a move that would have astounded his grandparents, Jim Austin brought robotic milking to their farm, with the DeLaval automated milking machine.  The video below features the Austin family and their farm, and explains how this dairy technology works.

Besides saving Austin Farm a lot of money in the long run, the machine makes for happier cows, a superior product, and a more sanitary operation.

Continue reading Dairy technology: happy cows, clean environment, and better milk