The Muirhead Canning Company began as the brainchild of Sam Muirhead. Responding to a desire for canned fruits and vegetables after World War II, Sam established the cannery in the Mill Creek Valley outside of The Dalles, Oregon in 1946. There was a particular need for fruit from the large ranches located in Southern Oregon with a woman from the Lakeview area providing the seed monies to have fruit canned in institutional sized cans and delivered to their ranch.
No fruit seemed as good as the fruit grown in and around Hood River and The Dalles. Operation began, for the most part, as a "do-it-yourself" cannery. Individuals could bring their own fruit to the cannery and can it themselves on the equipment. The excess fruit locals had would then be taken to ranches out toward the Lakeview and Harney county area of the state. Sam began to get more ranchers interested in the product as time went along. The "do-it-yourself" aspect of the cannery proved to be a bit of an operational challenge so Sam switched to a cannery with a regular staff, to which individuals could bring their fruit, leaving it to be canned in "lots" during the cannery production.
This continued until 1960 when Sam started the Hood-Crest brand of canned fruit. The taste and quality of the premium fruit quickly gained loyal followers from areas all around the Northwest and the emphasis gradually shifted from custom canning orders to producing fruit for the Hood-Crest label. Sam sold the company to his nephew and his wife, Randy and Dawn Barrett in 1978. They continued with Sam's legacy and processes to provide delicious fruit while establishing a broad, fiercely loyal customer base with their friendly and very personal way of doing business.
In 2006, after almost 30 years in the canning business, the Barretts found themselves ready to retire while Russell and Jenny Loughmiller found themselves ready to embark upon a new business. The Barretts worked closely with us, the Loughmillers, for the first canning season and are now officially retired (although Dawn just can't stay away and still works in the office part-time and Randy drops by quite often to check on the production, answer any questions, and add his help by filling in wherever the need seems apparent to him. We are honored to be a part of what is a local institution and plan to continue the Muirhead legacy of quality product and exceptional customer service for years and years to come.