Mr. Tom Smitheran of Olalla is another long time resident of the community who has memories of yesterday.
Smitheran lives in a comfortable log home that is connected by a breezeway to another log building,which is probably an original home in the area.
In the 1800s, Olalla was a camping area for a transient native population. It was the site for early “rendezvous.” Such gatherings were held in spring to gather roots, as a possible spring tonic, as well as for celebrating the end of winter. Another gathering was held in summer to pick Olalla berries, possibly in August.
Many European and native folks came together as families. In pioneer days, these unions were being discouraged on reservations, and the federal government paid these couples to move into Olalla through the use of a moving allowance. This helped to boost Olalla’s population, helping it to become a bustling settlement.
Logging and mining of copper provided some early employment opportunities. A large mining operation just above 12th Street once employed 10 to 12 miners. Many mining claims still lie scattered throughout the hills above Olalla.
The West Kootenay Power Company built a transmission line to Copper Mountain, and the coming of the railway to Keremeos were projects hailed by settlers, miners, and farmers in the area. Freight and passengers were transported overland from Penticton via Green Mountain Road by stage coach. The hotel in Olalla was a stopping point for passengers going on to Keremeos.
Around 1907, Hedley passengers would travel from Green Mountain Road over the “Seven Devils.” This moniker described seven roller coaster hills that had to be traversed when travelling by stage coach or horse back.