Old-timers who cross the railroad bridge, in town, and walk on down the dusty roads to the Columbia River, may still "see"

Old Lyle in memory, but at present only one of the old buildings yet stands, the house occupied by the Jesse Jewell family. To

the east also stands the Tim Wall home, and the old railroad bed which once extended its rails to the riverdock.

The following accounts; quoted or taken from papers printed in the Lyle High School editions of "The Lyle Cub Reporter"

for February 28 and April 1,1963 and written by Mrs. James E. (Muriel) West and her daughter, Zena Houdesheldt; tell the

story of the Lyle of the 1920's and 1930's, with certain additions.

The James Wests and their daughter came to Lyle from Roosevelt in 1920, when James West purchased the old Columbia

Garage from D. E. Witt. Much of the present townsite north of the highway was planted to prune orchards put in by the earliest

settlers, and the hillside north of town to grape vineyards.

A few of the old prune trees still remain, in 1968, five on the Houdesheldt property, one on the McDowell property and a

few others about town still bearing prolifically although they must be nearly one hundred years old. A rumor, told with relish by

some and disdained by others, has it that some residents of Old Lyle engaged in winemaking in the early years. An old barn

possibly built by a man named Burroughs who once owned the property, and still standing on the McDowell property, had in its

upper story a huge iron vat, when the McDowells took possession, which may have borne testimony to that early-day pursuit.

Lyle at that time (1920) supported two stores, two garages, a bank, three hotels, a livery stable, a machine shop, two

sawmills and a drug store. Prior to 1920 there was also a printing office.

One of those stores was the old Lyle Mercantile, a general store which occupied the Snider Building, on the present site of

the Lyle Tavern. It was a two-story building with apartments upstairs. Below, drygoods were sold in the front half and

groceries and hardware in the present remodeled living quarters, by the owners, Franzen and Norris.

The other store was the Tol Brothers Grocery, first located at the top of the wooden steps to the railroad depot, where the

Ray Bertschis now live. When the Tol Brothers Store enlarged, they built and moved into the store building still owned by

Kenneth Sorensen, who recently went out of business.

Homer James, who was to live to become one of Lyle's most distinguished and beloved older citizens, until his death in 1967,

came west from Indiana and bought out the Norris interest in the Old Lyle Mercantile. Shortly thereafter, Franzen and James

moved the store to the Crane building, occupied by the Walter Smith family until recently when they moved into the Edith

Sorensen house. At that time, the Walter Crane family lived upstairs and owned and operated the Lyle Telephone Company.

In 1927, the Oregon-Washington Telephone Company bought it out, and the office was moved to the location of the present

Stanley Krusow residence. It was operated by Susetta Murray Tol until around 1956 when the present dial-system was

installed. Lyle was one of the first towns in the Northwest to have access to Direct Distance Dial service.

At the site of the present Lyle Mercantile, operated by Delmar Kendrick, once stood the Lyle Garage. It was operated by

Adam Hylton, the father of Stanley Hylton, who resides here. It included also the space later occupied by the old Elkhorn

Tavern, now vacant. The living quarters of the tavern once housed the meat market of Harry Johnson, now resided in by Mrs.

Alda Smith.

Across the street stood the Columbia Garage, owned and operated by James E. West until 1927. It also housed a Delco

electric plant which provided Lyle with its first electric lights. Used for lighting only, it was turned on at sundown and off at 10

p.m. Later, the front part of the Columbia Garage burned. Only the back part of the building was saved, and became the

present Jim's Richfield station, operated by James Curl. This station recently underwent a "face-lifting" operation which made it

what it is today.

Many of Lyle's former business affairs were conducted through the Columbia State Bank, which occupied the corner building

next-door to the old Crane Building. The president and manager was Ralph Coppick. The building is now owned by the

American Legion which meets there. Prior to 1920, a Real Estate, Title & Abstract Company was in the rear part of the


The Woman's Club House is the remodeled service-station section of the old Lyle Garage, which was moved there to make

room for the present Lyle Mercantile Store. The men of the Lyle Commercial Club built on additional space and the Woman’s

Club modernized the kitchen. The clubhouse was recently repainted and the porch and steps were renewed.

Two of the three hotels burned down, shortly after 1920. One was the Dillabaugh Hotel, near the Tim Wall residence. A

livery stable, formerly operated by John Daffron, father of Frank Bradford, also burned. It was near the burner of the old Buck

sawmill. The other hotel, the Riverside, was used as a residence at the time of its destruction by fire. The Lyle Hotel was still in

business, then, and did not cease until after the completion of The Dalles Dam in the late 1930’s.

The old school building, which burned several years ago while it was being demolished for scrap lumber, was built in 1912

after the previous school burned. Later a gym was added, which also burned and was replaced by the present Old Gym. The

present Lyle High School, home of the "Lyle Cougars", is located north of town on The Hill, where a small community of leading

citizens occupy modern dwellings. The new Lyle Grade School houses the Junior High School, and the grade-students attend

the Dallesport Grade School via school bus.

East of the sheepsheds was the Daggett & Havener Apple Warehouse, where apples from many orchards on Fisher Hill

were sorted, packed and shipped each fall. After the apple harvest the building was used as a dance hall all winter. Around

1930 it burned and was never rebuilt.

The machine shop stood where the Louie Ellises now live, and the Claude Johnston home, formerly occupied by Anna

Omeg, was once a stable for the teams of horses used to carry the mail by Carl Stump, father of Mrs. William (Madeline)


Sawmills were once an integral pert of Lyle; Frank Cox started the first one, between Bradford’s and the Goldendale

railroad. He sold it to U. S. Buck who operated it until he retired. Soon after selling to Buck, Mr. Cox started another mill,

which changed hands several times before it was last owned and operated and later abandoned by a Mr. Thoren. It is still

referred to as "the old Thoren Mill," although only faint traces of it remain.

The old printing office was first located near the site of the present Texaco Station, operated by Louie Ellis, but was later

moved to the present location of the Oak Grove Motel. Prior to 1918, when it went out of business, it published and printed a

newspaper, "The Washingtonian", last edited by a man named Goff.

Before the railroads came, transportation was via river steamer or on horseback. The old road to White Salmon crossed

Major Creek, and the Goldendale road wound through High Prairie, Warwick and Centerville. The Dalles was reached only

by river steamer, until a road was built on the Oregon side of the Columbia and a Mr. Pearson instituted the Lyle-Rowena

Ferry. Many fond memories of "the Ferryboat" remain in the hearts of many old-timers.

Thus the "second" Lyle came and went, to the ceaseless Song of the Rivers. A rapidly changing modern civilization

approached, paused briefly and went on by. It saw the coming of the automobile, the aeroplane, electricity for home use, radio

and then television and the Nuclear Age--seeing these through half-closed eyelids as it dreamed mostly of past glories of a

vanished day. Occasional "booms" came and went with the building of the old road to Bingen, the construction of Bonneville

and The Dalles Dams and later, the John Day Dam, with the building of the highway east through the tunnel-bore.

But after each, Lyle settled back into its customary apathy. New businesses grew discouraged and drifted away, some of the

old ones ceased operations. Lyle was only a "quiet village."