Inside Jorgen Anderson's dairy empire

Began with purchase of 171 acres near Sumas in 1900

Hillview milk trucks on Bellingham’s Grand Avenue in the late 1920s.

Jeff Jewell
   Jorgen O. Anderson was born in Norway, Oct. 9, 1870, and grew up to follow his father Ander’s occupation as a sailor. Thomas, Jorgen’s younger brother, was also a sailor and both men were on the crew of a ship that docked at Fairhaven in 1893. Liking the looks of the harbor and hills, the Anderson brothers along with a Finnish shipmate, Alex Hendrickson, decided to “skip ship.”
   Following a brief stay in Fairhaven’s “Pest House,” the three men obtained employment at the Blue Canyon Coal Mine on the south end of Lake Whatcom. Jorgen was put in charge of lowering the coal-laden cars down the 400-foot incline to the lake-side bunkers. He found lodging with the Even Tweit family, fellow Norwegian immigrants, residing in Happy Valley.
   At Blue Canyon, on April 8, 1895, Jorgen was working at the top of the incline when, at 2:45 p.m., the mine was rocked by a horrific explosion. The blast, later attributed to ignition of coal gases, killed twenty-three miners. Jorgen helped in retrieving victims from the worst industrial accident in Whatcom County history. Alex Hendrickson was among the dead.
   After the disaster, mining coal “paled” on Jorgen, yet he needed the job. For the next five years he saved what he could from his miner’s pay in hopes of starting a new life as a farmer. He married Hilda Lind, a native of Sweden, on Aug. 29, 1896, and left mining for good in April 1900, having bought 171 acres of forested land three miles southeast of Sumas.
   On his last day at Blue Canyon, Jorgen bought a milk cow, transported it by barge to Silver Beach and then walked her all the way to his new home in Sumas! Jorgen built a house, cleared timber and “year after year of hard labor brought astonishing results.”
   In 1904, Jorgen sold 80 acres of land to his brother, Thomas, using the proceeds to buy a few cows and start a small dairy. His start-up milk business did so well that he bought 40 more acres to add to his holdings in 1908 and, by 1910, Jorgen was able to buy a herd of pure- bred Guernsey cattle.
   Hilda and Jorgen had three children — a daughter, Anna, and two sons, Norman and Victor. As the Anderson boys grew up, they “assisted in the labors of the farm” and when old enough became partners in the dairy business with their father.
   Among the Andersons’ Guernseys in the early 1920s was a pair of record setting butter-fat producers: “Summers Sequel Francesca” and her half-sister “Francesca of Hillview Farm.” Sixty-seven more acres were purchased in 1922, giving Jorgen a total of 198 acres, 170 acres of which were pasture and the rest cultivated in hay, oats, vetch and “enough corn to fill his silos.” The farm had “an abundance of fine water” with natural springs from a nearby hill diverted to a series of reservoirs. Hillview Dairy began retailing its milk in Bellingham in 1923, finding its first customers by going door to door.

Hillview Dairy at 1824 Cornwall Ave., where "Milk Direct from our own Herd of Guernsey Cattle" kept customers coming back, as seen here in 1954.

    Jorgen and Hilda moved to Bellingham in 1929, buying Roy and Joy Stokes’ house at 2901 Sunset Dr. as both residence and Hillview’s “city headquarters.” By then, three milk trucks covered the routes delivering “milk, cream, butter, eggs and cheese” to more than a thousand customers in Bellingham and nearby vicinity. A larger truck, with refrigeration system, hauled bottled milk from Sumas to Bellingham each morning. Norman and Victor ran the farm, which, in the decade between 1926 and 1936, doubled its herd from 100 to 200 cows.
   On Oct. 6, 1936, ground was broken on Bellingham’s new senior high school to be built at the old circus grounds on Cornwall Ave. In a truly inspired moment, Jorgen realized that the school’s teenage population would need a new refreshment spot “with complete fountain service.” Such a place would have to be within easy-walking distance and an ideal location was found just across Ohio Street. The multi-purpose building would also serve as the dairy’s retail center, bottling plant, truck depot, and testing facility.
   Hillview Dairy celebrated its grand opening at 1824 Cornwall Ave. on June 26, 1937. The two-story building, 40 feet by 103 feet, was “decorated in the modern trend” to architecturally match the Floyd Naramore-designed Bellingham High. It had a large soda fountain and ice cream parlor for the public, generous processing space behind the scenes, plus a manufacturing room with ice cream machines “behind glass partitions where the public can view the steps undertaken in making such products.”
   In a further innovation, Hillview introduced Bellingham to “drive-in service, where customers may find ample parking space or may sit in their automobiles while service is given.”

Jorgen O. Anderson (1870-1955): sailor, miner, farmer, and founder of Hillview Dairy. Portrait by New Whatcom photographer E. A. Hegg, c. 1894.

    John Dalquest was hired to oversee Hillview’s ice cream production. Dalquest, former proprietor of the Capitol City Creamery in Olympia, had eighteen years of expertise in ice cream-making and plenty of his own “special mixes.” Catering services for “Party Orders” offered an array of “molded ice creams, ice cream cakes, ice cream pies and Newlywed rolls.”
   Bellingham High School was formally dedicated on Feb. 23, 1938, with Washington State Gov. Clarence Martin in attendance. After the ceremony, “Anderson & Sons” held a second grand opening with their new lunch room on Hillview Dairy’s second floor. The small restaurant sold 10-cent hamburgers, salmon salad and other sandwiches, as well as the fullline of fountain drinks. In addition to milkshakes and malts, there were fancy sundaes: Scotch Lassie, Wagon Wheel, Banana Split, Hillview Special, Snow White, Mt. Baker, and Black Cloud.
   As Jorgen had hoped, Hillview Dairy became the place for students to go after school or following BHS performances and sports events. Hillview’s Red Raider sundae was made in Bellingham High colors with strawberry and vanilla ice cream, strawberry and marshmallow topping, whipped cream and a cherry on top!
   With Hillview Dairy’s success, Jorgen gradually withdrew from the business, leaving it to his sons to operate. Norman was in charge of the retail end, including the Cornwall plant, while Victor managed the farm. Jorgen found time to be a township supervisor, a member of the school board and, from 1939 to 1943, served on the Bellingham Port Commission. He died in 1955 at the age of 84.
   By the early 1950s, Hillview Dairy had rivals for the high school students’ milkshake and burger trade. Earl Stubler’s “Skookum Chuck Drive-In” opened at 2220 Cornwall Ave., promising the “World’s Best Hamburgers and Fish & Chips” available “By the Bag Full.” Ralph Sawyer started “The Shack,” a hamburger stand at 2001 Cornwall Ave., directly across the street from BHS.
   In 1956, M. L. Burden bought the Skookum Chuck, renaming it “Bunk’s,” and Russ Hilton purchased The Shack, later known as “Russ’ Drive In.”
   Still, Hillview’s complete line of quality dairy products remained its largest draw and a retail success that the burger joints didn’t affect.
   Victor Anderson passed away in 1957. After Norman’s death in 1961, Hillview Dairy continued for another eight years under his sons, James and Norman, Jr.
   In 1970, the former dairy building on Cornwall Ave. became David Brethour’s Piston Service, an auto parts store, and most recently Company B Dancewear.




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