A BRIEF HISTORY OF APPLEGROVE ROAD
By late Bill Laux
In 1962, another pair of Americans, Bill and Adele Laux, arrived. They were joined by their friends, Jack and Janie Wise, who had been running a production art studio in Mexico. The four of them bought the Scribe property from the dispersed Quaker group and set up Vaki Studios to produce batik wall hangings most of which they sold in the US.
In 1962 or 1963 Columbia Cellulose, which held the Tree Farm License, extended the Applegrove road across Taite Creek and down to Octopus Creek to open up more timber harvesting areas. They were obliged to lease and then purchase the right of way, where it crossed the Gebelein property.
Applegrove Road from Fauquier to Taite Creek is a public road, maintained by the Department of Highways. From Taite Creek south it is a Forest Industrial Road owned and maintained by the holder of Tree Farm Licence 23.
Richard Eichenauer, from Germany and New York, arrived in 1964 – and shortly joined Mead and Freedman on their property. Richard and Jimmi married and raised a daughter, Cedra, who now lives in Nakusp.
The buildinq of the dam in 1967 and the consequent flooding wiped out Appleqrove completely and submerged most of the old orchards along the lakefront. It did in fact destroy the small farm and orchard economy that the first settlers had created. What was to follow, once high-speed paved roads to the Okanagan and Calgary were in place, was something none of the Arrow Lakes residents had imagined. Their valley was now considered to have “recreational” or “retirement” potential and at once their taxes reflected this change.
That might be the future, but for the time being life along Applegrove Road continued much the same. Some changes had to be made. The Fauquier lakeshore road that served the Orcutt and Laux properties was fIooded out and the power line that served them was removed as well. Lauxs and Orcutts rebuilt Len Funk’s old horse trail to connect themselves to Applegrove Road. Potockis, Hell and Gebelein moved back uphill to new locations above the new high water line.
The era of the Hippies came next. Each week idealistic young people from the cities would make the trek up Applegrove Road weekly seeking like-minded others and that mythical plot of free land where everything would be peace and love. Just as with the wandering Albertans in the 1910s, those willing to work on the Applegrove homesteads were fed and sheltered until they had enough and moved on. Some stayed for a few weeks, some for a summer.
In 1965 the Provincial Government announced its plans for the High Arrow Dam and the reservoir to be created behind it. In the project was included $6 million for a Needles-Fauguier bridge and $7 million for a new highway from Fauquier to Passmore along the power line route. This highway would have destroyed Applegrove Road and ended the quiet and isolation of its residents. There was great relief when the Department of Highways, which was experiencing the first of many difficult winters on the new Kootenay Pass road, announced it would build over no more than 1800 meter (6000 ft.) passes. A ferry was substituted for the bridge, the road was not built and the moneys saved were diverted to the Peace River Dam project.
Tony and Nancy Netting bought the Gaustein place in the 1960s and began an orchard nursery and gardening enterprise. They raised three children, spending summers on the homestead and winters teaching in Kelowna. Kurt and Mary Hilger joined with the Mead and Eichenauer community and began a house. They did not finish it but sold to the Canons, Randy and Dharma, who created a unique octagon structure all lovingly hand-finished. Cannons too, left and sold to Nila Campbell, whose intention was to convert the property into a meditation and healing centre.
Martin and Shelly Glasheen joined the group as well and with great energy began developing a homestead. They raised two children and a great number of animals. As serious and ambitious mountaineers they are now planning a mountain lodge high in the Valhallas. (It is now a very successful and popular enterprise. By the name of Valkyr Adventures)
Others came, stayed a while and then moved on. One group, arriving from California in a van, took up residence in the Orcutt house and turned themselves into a Rock Band, “The Flying Hearts.”
In 1970 an American, Logan Bumpus, arrived from near Prince George with his horses. He and Ruth Orcutt married and began ranching beef cows and breeding horses on their property.
The like-minded people of the Sixties and Seventies were not all that different from the British arrivals at Applegrove in the first years of the century. All were leaving an urban and consumer-dominated society they found disturbing and were seeking a rural seclusion on which to create self-sustaining homesteads.
The following decades would bring a very different group of land-seekers. These were older, often affluent and looking for recreational or retirement properties. These were concepts that would have been unthinkable to Applegrove Road residents in the dirt-road Sixties. But with paved roads to the Okanagan and to Calgary and the extension of telephone and hydro lines, the Arrow Lakes had now become a recreational destination.
Sometime in the early years Len Funk had sold the north half of his lot, 7125, to Earnest Bruner. Bruner built a house and tried to farm the property but found the soil too sandy to hold water. The place was rented out variously until 1967 when it was bought by Peter Makar, a High School Shop Instructor from Penticton. Makar, seeing the resale potential of Arrow Lakes properties, bought several farms from persons wanting to leave the area and became the Nakusp High School shop instructor. As well, he founded Loma Lumber in Nakusp. When the lakeshore road was flooded out in 1968 Makar built a road up the steep bluff to tie into Applegrove Road.