History of Hockaday Orchards
Peaceful Valley Ranch was established in 1910. Originally, the orchards were apple, but cherries and a number of fruits were added later. Hockaday Orchards originally sold ‘cherries and berries’. Large crops of strawberries and raspberries were sold along side cherries and apples.
In 1910, Roger (Weight) Hockaday and his wife Marguerite came out to Montana for a visit. Weight was an advance man with the railroad company and it was his job to promote travel on the railway systems. They had come to Montana to see Glacier Park and had an idea they wanted to purchase a piece of property somewhere in the Flathead Valley. The real estate agent they were working with convinced them to take a steam boat ride on Flathead Lake. There was some property for sale on Angel Point and they could stop off at the tip of Angel Point and have a look. During that time, there was a gazebo on the top of the hill, not too far from where the steam boat stopped. People could hike around and have a picnic lunch.
Weight and Marguerite did just that. They fell in love with the valley below and bought the entire parcel before the day was over. The difficult part was moving out. They packed up all of their stuff and sent it via the railway, along with cattle, intending to become cattle ranchers. Most of their belongings arrived broken and damaged, and some went missing. They were able to establish themselves in a small cabin in the central valley of the peninsula, and named it Peaceful Valley Ranch. They soon learned that the ranch was the wrong place to raise cattle, but a great place to raise fruit.
Peaceful Valley Ranch with early orchard
As the orchard began producing, the fruit was shipped all over the US. It would be picked and then taken down to the dock in the bay, where the local boat would pick up that day’s product and take it to Somers, where it would then be transported to the warehouse in Kalispell.
View from the Lake
Weight and Marguerite’s son Hugh, a commercial artist in St. Louis, and his wife Ethel and son Hugh, moved out to assist in the late ’40s. Hugh established an art studio on the property and continued to plant trees to build a commercial orchard.
The orchard continued to be commercial, shipping cherries to the local cherry warehouse, until the mid ’70’s. It became less profitable to sell to the warehouse, and since our cherries ripened later than the East Shore, it became more difficult to get them into an already saturated market. It was decided to move fully to the U-Pick model and open our doors to the general public, allowing them to experience their own farming adventure.
Today, Hockaday Orchards is run by Hugh and his children, Kimberly and Hugh Jr., along with a great deal of help and support from their spouses. Both families are full time residents at the ranch and continually take care of the orchard, its surrounding gardens, and wild animals that make the area their home.