Motorists headed north on Andresen Road from Mill Plain Boulevard often gasp with amazement as they break over the hill into the valley of Burnt Bridge Creek.
Spread before their eyes is a panorama of rural beauty nestled in the midst of Vancouver’s urban sprawl. Acres and acres of straight rows of brilliant green cabbages and heads of lettuce cross the rich, black soil that is peculiar to this small but productive oasis.
The credit for this agricultural bonanza goes to the Natta and Cabiale families, who turned what was once swampland into the county’s most productive truck gardens.
Giovanni Natta, born in Italy in 1863, and his nephew. Frank C. Natta, born there in 1892, are believed to have started farming this lush little valley about 1907. When Giovanni died in 1913, Frank Natta continued the gardening operation.
The Columbian in 1925 has this to say:
“His (Natta) 23-acre ranch extends north and down the hill and takes in some of the Burnt Bridge Creek beaver dam land. Ten yars ago, this bottom land was just a swale and was considered rather worthless. It has been drained and improved, and now it is in ideal truck gardening condition. The amount of lettuce which is produced in this Burnt Bridge Creek bottom land is astonishing.”
Frank Natta died in 1975 at age 82, and his wife, Lillie D. Natta, died in 1977. It was noted at the time that Lillie was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mario Cabiale, who also were pioneer residents and whose descendants also continue to farm the rich lowlands along the creek.