Had Gordon Voorhies not married Helen Strong Burrell from Portland, Voorhies would not be remembered today as someone who greatly influenced the development of Rogue Valley's fruit and fruit packing business.

After all, Voorhies was a Kentucky boy, born in 1868, a West Point graduate, who served in the army on the American frontier and in the Spanish-American War.

Perhaps not wishing to lose his daughter to Kentucky, in 1899 Helen's father steered the couple to Southern Oregon by helping them buy a 160-acre pear and prune orchard near Phoenix originally planted by J.H. Stewart in the mid 1880s.

Through the years, Voorhies expanded the orchard to 640 acres, added apple trees, and renamed it Eden Valley Orchard. The orchard even had its on railway stop: Voorhies Station.

Not until 1920 did the Voorhies and their children finally move from Portland into the Colonial revival-style house they'd begun building the year they bought the orchard; though by then the neglected house needed a complete remodeling by their son Charles, an architecture student.

Gordon Voorhies died in 1940, but his legacy, and their home and property at 2300 Voorhies Road (now the site of Eden Valley Orchards), are still viable parts of the valley's orchard industry.

Source: Watson, Louise A., "The Voorhies Family," Southern Oregon Heritage Today, June, 1999, Vol.1, No. 6.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.