Hop King: Ezra Meeker's Boom Years - Washington State Historical Society
WSU Press

Hop King: Ezra Meeker's Boom Years

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Hop King: Ezra Meeker's Boom Years by Dennis M. Larsen

"Oregon Trail pioneer Ezra Meeker seized business opportunities and took risks. After he settled near Tacoma in the Puyallup Valley, hops became a pivotal force in his life - and one that would change both the region and Washington Territory,.

Meeker planted his first hops in the mid-1860s, attaining modest profits. Then he met brewer Henry Weinhard. Becoming Weinhard's direct supplier brought Meeker rising prosperity and inspired others to start cultivating the vines. He traveled to New York and London, extolling the virtues of Northwest-grown hops. E. Meeker and Co. become the largest hops exporter in the country, and Ezra the official "hop king."

Rarely idle, Meeker also managed an extended family, became involved in philanthropy and development schemes, relentlessly promoted Washington and Puget Sound, and was active in politics and women's suffrage. Impulsive, pugnacious, and and intimidating business opponent, he became entangled in numerous lawsuits. Ultimately, a combination of adverse events - including a stunning financial betrayal and an aphid plague - brought Meeker's boom years to a close."

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