100 Years of Apples and History at the Buckner Orchard in the North Cascades

The Buckner Orchard on a beautiful sunny day in Stehekin. NPS photo by Michael Silverman.

For a full century the Buckner family has been growing apples in the scenic Stehekin Valley in Washington's North Cascades. The orchard is now managed as part of North Cascades National Park Complex, with some vital help from the Stehekin Community and the Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation.

One hundred years ago this November, William “Van” Buckner purchased what is now the Buckner Orchard in Stehekin from Bill Buzzard and began a long legacy in the Stehekin Valley. Son Harry and his wife Olive continued farming the orchard, maintaining more than 700 trees and raising three daughters at the “Buckner Ranch.” This historically registered district still contains mostly Common Delicious apples, a sweet and historic variety of apple.

The Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation recently donated a mower/shredder and tractor to the National Park Service to aid in orchard operations. The machinery shreds pruned branches allowing large amounts of brush to be processed in much less time, and saves the physical labor of hand piling the branches. Members of the Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation also accomplished a great deal of volunteer work during a weekend at the Buckner Orchard in July.

"Private philanthropy has always played an important role in the national parks," said Chip Jenkins, superintendent. "We are honored by the support the Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation is providing."

The park and the Foundation held the Buckner Homestead Centennial Celebration last weekend, and locals and visitors alike are looking forward to many more years of apples that are both tasty--and Delicious.

Part of the charm of the Stehekin area of North Cascades National Park Complex is the fact this isn't an easy place to reach. The area is connected to the outside world only by foot, boat or plane, so the voyage to Stehekin is part of your experience. There is no cell phone reception and no ATM, so plan ahead! You'll find information to help plan a visit on the park website.