TROUT LAKE WASHINGTON CHEESE HERITAGE
Cheese making was important in the early development of Trout Lake's dairy industry. Today, almost 125 years after cheese was first made in the Trout Lake valley, Cascadia Creamery continues this tradition with its unique local artisan cheese handcrafted in small batches from local, raw, organic milk.Excerpt from the Trout Lake Valley Cookbook, produced by the Trout Lake Community Club. Copyright © 2005. Reprinted here with permission. Facts compiled from Esther Schmid and Cheryl Mack.
Joseph Aerni managed a dairy farm in Switzerland before coming to the United States. The Aerni family moved to the Trout Lake valley in 1885. Mr. Aerni built the first small cheese factory in the basement of his home and was soon known as a very good Swiss cheese maker.
Around 1888, Elizabeth and Joshua Aerni discovered the Lava (Cheese) Cave while they were herding cattle on the open range south of their father's farm. In addition to becoming an excellent cheese aging room, the cave became a popular place for community picnics and was one of the local sights to show visitors. Some of the shelves that were used for storing cheese more than 100 years ago are still in the cave.
In 1902 several farmers in the Trout Lake area decided to form a cooperative to replace the many small cheese factories they had on their homesteads. The cooperative was called the "Trout Lake Dairy Association" and continued for the next 25 years until 1927. At first, only cheese was made in this co-op factory, but later butter became an important product. Old Creamery Road in Trout Lake is named after this factory, whose buildings are still standing. From 1940 -1951 a man named Homer Spencer owned and operated the Guler Cheese Company and used the Lava (Cheese) Cave for aging his American Roquefort style cheese. Now more than 60 years later, Cascadia Creamery revives the traditon of artisan cheese making in the Trout Lake Valley.