Tillamook has a long history of cheesemakers. Each of them played a role in helping to establish Tillamook County as cheddar country, even if not all of the earliest attempts were successful or the cheesemakers were particularly good. We’ll give those folks an “A” for effort. It didn’t take long, though, before we were on the right track and making some tasty cheddar cheese.
The handsome bunch in this photo was all Tillamook cheesemakers. It is dated 1948 and they were photographed while attending a cheesemakers banquet. They probably needed a break, considering all the hard work they put into making Tillamook Cheese! In 1948, the Tillamook County Creamery Association was still a cooperative of creameries, and each creamery had its own staff of talented cheesemakers making award-winning cheddars. In fact, a 1949 article stated that with 15 creameries and 24 licensed cheesemakers, Tillamook County had about half of all of the cheesemakers in the state of Oregon.
We continued to have little creameries operating around the county, each with their own cheesemaker, all the way up until 1968. That’s when the few remaining creameries consolidated their milk supply into the centrally-located plant and there was a single cheesemaker overseeing the entire cheesemaking operation.