OregonScape: Summer 2014

Summer 2014, 115:2

For decades schools have used visual images in their classes. Such visuals have included videos, films, slides, and in the early twentieth century, lantern slides. Lantern slides were large, generally 3 1/2 inches by 4 inches, and were originally printed on glass. Later slides were made of film sandwiched between glass sheets. Nearly all lantern slides were black-and-white photos, but they were often hand-colored, as in this example. Not only is the sky blue and the orchard green, but one of the men has been given a blue shirt. This view of a modern eastern Oregon hog farm titled, "Hogs, Corn, Alfalfa and Orchard Beyond, Umatilla County," was taken in the early 1920s and is the fourth slide in a set used in Portland schools to teach children about Oregon industries. Premier Oregon photographer Arthur M. Prentiss photographed the set, entitled Stock Raising and Meat Packing in Oregon .

The Davies Family Research Library collections at the Oregon Historical Society include a 1915 pamphlet Pacific-Northwest Swine Husbandry by L.R. McGee, issued by the Portland Union Stock Yards Company, which discusses hog raising practices shown here. The “A” shaped portable houses are described as “one of the easiest the farmer can construct.” The pamphlet includes a materials list, a construction diagram, and recommends the houses face south so the interior can be heated by sunlight. The breed of hogs is difficult to identify, but the pamphlet assures readers that “all breeds look alike to the packers.” It also advises that “above everything, build your own fences right, and build them permanent….Once your hogs learn they can get through your fence trouble begins.”

Of course, there is much more to raising hogs than houses and fences. Look beyond the row of five little houses, and there is a stack of corn waiting to be turned into hog feed. Beyond that is a corner of an alfalfa field, also used for hog feed. A young orchard grows to the left of the hog pens — presumably the fruit will end up on the farmer’s table.

Arthur M. Prentiss (born in about 1865 and died in about 1940) worked with many of the major photographers in the Portland area, beginning with the Weister Studio in 1913. He later joined Benjamin Gifford as Gifford and Prentiss, Inc. He acquired the Weister Studio and its inventory in 1922 and continued working on his own. His documentary photographs are represented in nearly every major photograph collection in the Pacific Northwest.