“We did love that J.O.,” she told me. “You didn’t have to pay in cash. He knew the farmers had good credit.”
But then, Lotzgesell said, the price of milk dropped and farmers started moving into other jobs, including jobs at area mills. First the Dungeness creamery closed, then the Sequim creamery and finally the creamery in Port Angeles shut down.
There was one bright spot in valley farming. In the late 1960s, several farmers began growing a high-quality grass seed that was particularly valued for use on golf courses. In time, the Sequim-Dungeness Valley had the greatest planting of seaside bent grass in the U.S. These grass seed farmers created the Dungeness Agricultural Supply, which bought the granary in 1969. The supply company added a garden and farming supply retail store to its other operations.
But the number of farms, and the amount of farm land, continued to dwindle. Eventually, Lotzgesell says, somebody started advertising for settlers to move to the Sequim area, and in they came, particularly from the Chicago area.
In 1977, the granary operation ended, but the husk still stood as the centerpiece of a small shopping area, the Landmark Mall. In 1981, El Cazador moved into the space.
Thus ends our history.
Let me suggest you break out your cameras. You’re not likely to see this view again.
And please — be careful on your way down. That first step is a doozy.