Long Beach: Berries are our colorful business

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I><BR>The Peninsula's annual cranberry harvest in October is a harvest of color, as the bogs are flooded and the bright red berries are gathered on the surface. Peninsula berries are especially prized for their color. A wild variety is native here and may have been eaten by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in November 1805.

A tiny red berry is big time from Seaview and Ilwaco, east to Chinook and north to the Ocean Park area. It's a cranberry. The little berry is so big that the annual Cranberrian Fair is held in its honor.

Only about 550 acres of cranberries are grown in bogs around the Peninsula area - about half the statewide total. But cranberries make up a big part of the Peninsula's personality, so much so that it's impossible to imagine our home without its distinctive and colorful cranberry fields.

The Cranberrian Fair celebrating the harvest is held each October in Ilwaco. During the festival, guided "bog tours" allow visitors to watch the cranberry harvests in progress. The harvest begins in early October, running through the end of the month and often into November.

Grayland, which straddles the Pacific-Grays Harbor county line, is also a major producing area. Other West Coast bogs are near Ocean Shores; in Bandon, Ore.; and in British Columbia.

Cranberry vines used to create the first local crop in the 1890s were shipped from Massachusetts, which is one reason the Peninsula has been called the Cape Cod of the West. Between the turn of the century and World War I, vines were transported to the Peninsula by train-carload. Several hundred acres were planted in the Long Beach and Ilwaco areas at that time.

The 130 cranberry growers in the Long Beach and Grayland areas produce more than 15 million pounds a year.

The cranberry is a perennial crop, and it is not unusual to find 75- to-100-year-old bogs in production.

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