While the fur trade was the first business of the Hudson's Bay Company, agriculture became its mainstay. As early as 1828, the company had four dairy farms and orchards on Sauvie Island, a grain farm at Toledo, 140 square miles of sheep, cattle and horse pasture in the Nisqually Valley and a farm at each of its 23 forts. In 1829, the company's exports to Hawaii, California and Alaska were primarily lumber, salted salmon and farm products.
The following year, Clark County saw its first apple harvest - one apple. It came from an apple treet planted near Fort Vancouver in 1826. Now called the Old Apple Tree, it is considered the oldest in the Northwest and the matriarch of Washington state's apple industry.
Here's how the tree came to be. At a farewell dinner for Emilius Simpson, Hudson's Bay Gov. Sir George Simpson's cousin who was leaving England for Clark County, a woman gave him the seeds from her dessert apple and asked him to plant them at the fort. He did. Now, at twice the age of most fruit trees, the Old Apple Tree is more than 176 years old.
A festival celebrating the tree is held each year on the first Saturday in October at historic Apple Tree Park, 112 Columbia Way, Vancouver, just east of the Interstate 5 Bridge.