Judge Hanford and Manley Bostwick Haynes
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In 1900 the Priest Rapids Valley was sparsely populated save for scattered settlements near the small community of White Bluffs. This changed over the following decade when Manley Bostwick Haynes and his father-in-law Judge Cornelius Holgate Hanford established the town of Hanford several miles south of White Bluffs. An ambitious Seattle banker, real estate investor, and socialite, Haynes often graced the society page of TheSeattle Daily Times, first as an eligible bachelor and later as husband to Judge Hanford’s daughter Elaine. Haynes always kept his eyes open for investment opportunities, and while sailing down the Columbia River during the 1890s found himself drawn to the open landscape of the Priest Rapids Valley. Convinced an adequate irrigation network could transform the dry shrub-steppe into farmland, Haynes purchased 32,000 acres between Richland and White Bluffs, an endeavor The Ranch claimed “promises to be one of the largest public utilities in the state.” Haynes asked his father-in-law for support, and Judge Hanford became an enthusiastic investor. By 1905 Haynes, Hanford, and several prominent Seattle businessmen established the Priest Rapids Irrigation & Power Company (PRIPC) to turn vision into reality.
Hanford was no stranger to ambition and had already achieved significant success as a lawyer and judge, becoming Washington Territory’s chief justice in 1889 and the first federal district court judge for Washington State in 1890. Hanford supported agricultural development efforts, saying in 1905 in a speech steeped in racial bias that Native Americans, “as occupiers of the land, failed to use it as God intended that it should be used, so as to yield its fruits in abundance for the comfort of millions of inhabitants.” When internal disputes led to the disintegration of the PRIPC Hanford and Haynes persevered, establishing the Hanford Irrigation & Power Company (HIPC) in 1906. Hanford served for a time as HIPC president while Haynes acted as the company secretary.
Over the next two years as the HIPC constructed irrigation and pumping facilities, employees delineated and developed a company town. Platted in 1907, this new town was named Hanford after the HIPC’s prestigious founder. The HIPC advertised to attract new residents and Haynes even purchased a homestead for himself, moving there with his family in 1913. Known as “‘Arrowhead on the Columbia,’” The Seattle Daily Times described Haynes’ residence as “one of the show spots of the Hanford district.” A prominent member of the community, Haynes was secretary of the White Bluffs Golf Club and even ran for State Representative in 1914. Hanford’s brother Clarence also made a home here, establishing what historian Martha Berry Parker describes as “one of the valley’s most magnificent fruit farms.” It is small wonder that Clarence Hanford was the one who gave grape mogul P. R. Welch a tour of the valley in 1911, petitioning him to open a juice factory near Hanford. As a result of these efforts, Hanford’s population grew so that by 1910 the town numbered 369 people. HIPC irrigation efforts were less successful. Persistent financial and maintenance problems dogged the company even after the Pacific Power and Light Company purchased it in 1910. Years of litigation ensued as Hanford, Haynes, and local farmers attempted to reduce exorbitant water rates. They received a favorable ruling in 1922 but legal costs left Haynes bankrupt.
Hanford’s downfall came primarily at his own hand. In May 1912 he revoked the citizenship of naturalized citizen Leonard Olsson on the grounds that he was a socialist, a decision that made national news and prompted an investigation by the US House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee. Numerous witnesses subsequently testified that Hanford was a habitual drunk who caroused with women late into the night. Even worse was the accusation that Hanford helped the HIPC purchase land from the Northern Pacific Railroad (NP) at a discount in exchange for a favorable tax ruling in 1907 that saved the NP $60,000. His credibility fatally undermined, Hanford tendered his resignation on July 22, 1912. The Congressional inquiry concluded after his resignation, conveniently halting further investigation into the actions of Hanford’s powerful business associates.
Despite the financial setbacks and scandals, Haynes and Hanford remained active in the Hanford community. In 1916, Haynes served as director of the Hanford school district and during WWI both men supported Red Cross donation drives and returning veterans. Hanford became an author, and wrote about the history of Seattle until his death in 1926. Haynes went on to serve as acting secretary of the Pacific Northwest Fruit Exposition in 1921. That year he also served as president of Commonwealth Petroleum, a drilling interest in Benton County, and in 1922 he incorporated the Hanford-Priest Rapids Land Company. Although Haynes moved to Seattle during the 1920s he did not lose his enthusiasm for rural development projects, and in 1935 he served as vice-president of the Columbia River Development League. Haynes passed away in 1942 one year before the United States government destroyed the town he had worked so hard to create.