Article contributed by Jean Miller
Karl and Adella Just homesteaded on Pole Creek in the Fraser River Valley in 1896. Della was the daughter of Henry Lehman, who had, himself, homesteaded on the upper Grand River about 1880. Karl and Della worked hard, adding to their property until by the late twenties, they had the largest holding in the valley.
This lovely ranch was where Snow Mountain Ranch is now, and their log home still stands there even today. Their several children homesteaded in their own rights. Della and her son Alfred had what is known as the Rowley homestead, (now part of the Y-Camp) as well as what currently is the Winter Park Highlands. Son Rudy and his wife Clarabelle ranched part of the original Just property on Pole Creek where they watched over his mother. Another daughter married one of the Daxton boys and their spread was on Crooked Creek.
Until the 1950's, just beyond Tabernash on the north side of the highway at the foot of Winter Park Highlands stood one of the original log homes of this family. In fact, this house appeared in a 1952 movie called "On Dangerous Ground", starring Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, and Ward Bond. It was torn down some years later and a modern house built there.
Life was hard for ranching pioneers, perhaps hardest of all for the women, for they worked in the fields and of course, did all the work of the house as well as much of the garden work. Little Della raked hay during the season, hoed gardens, hauled water, fished, sewed, and cooked. She was tough. The bright spots were when rare visitors stopped by, or as the population increased, dances were held in one town or another.
It was a given that the Just home, like those of most pioneers, had no indoor plumbing. Nobody expected it and nobody complained. However, by 1957, Della Just was in her nineties. Karl was long gone. Her children decided that she should have indoor plumbing after all these years, and they heard that young Dwight Miller had a brand new backhoe. When they called, Dwight was pleased at the thought of doing such a useful job.
He brought his machine out to the ranch and prepared to get to work. He discovered, however, that there was disagreement on this bright idea. Della thought the notion was silly. "I've lived all these years with an outhouse and I don't see any reason at all to change!"
Back in those days, temperatures were very much colder than those currently expected. Forty and fifty degrees below zero were not unusual at all. But that old lady didn't mind this. (No doubt, there were chamber pots available for the worst weather.)
Della's children, themselves no longer young, won out, and Dwight dug the trenches and the septic tank hole and laid the pipes. We never heard whether Della got used to such luxury or not, but we know that Rudy and Clarabelle agreed that moving into the modern world was a good idea!