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  1. Hello all, After too long being absent from the online ghost town community, a recent trip out to the eastern half of the state has inspired me to start posting again. So to kick that off I'll begin with a series on dying and dead towns in the state's Palouse Country. First off... Winona, Washington Like the nearby living town of La Crosse, Winona was established as a station on the Oregon Railroad & Navigation (Union Pacific) railroad line between the Tri Cities and Spokane. Its name came from one of the lead construction engineers, who hailed from Winona, Minnesota. Home to a camp for railroad workers building the main line and a branch to Pullman, the town quickly grew, with a post office opening in 1891. By 1910 the census showed 624 residents in Whitman County's Winona precinct. Like the rest of the fertile Palouse, Winona continued to flourish in the first half of the 20th centurydriven partly by the construction of grain storage facilities by the Sperry Flour Company in the early 1920's. However, like many small farm towns, the lure of bigger communities became too strong. The 1940 census shows that the population had decreased to 410. The Winona School District consolidated with that of nearby Endicott in 1955 and the school was sold to a local resident. By 1970, Winona didn't even appear as a census location. Then disaster struck. According to a gentleman I met while visiting the town, circa 1970 an out-of-control grass fire swept through the town, destroying much of what remained. Either due to the destruction of their structures or just simply the collapse of Winona, the Union Pacific closed its depot in 1971. The post office soon followed suit, ending operations in 1973. Today, looking at census data for the precinct subdivisions in Winona, only about 20 people live in the community. Looking at the former downtown, only a handful of structures remain in a neat, if worn, little row. First on the left is Kuehl's, which apparently served as a longtime hardware and grocery store. Next is the former bank building. I was told it was built circa 1890 and is one of the oldest banks in the region. The grey, concrete structure is the grange hall which despite being long-closed still supposedly bears a mostly intact interior. The brick building farthest to the right at one time hosted a general store, and one of the last businesses to operate there was a grocery store. Just uphill from the downtown, on what was Main Street stands the former Methodist Church. Long out of operation, and now used for storage by one of the few residents, it will likely collapse soon unless the roof is replaced.
  2. Haunting photographs of a Washington ghost-town which was once a bustling railroad village before the jobs left and the residents followed Lester, Washington's last living resident died in in 2002 at the age of 99 The town was once a fuel stop for trains but lost its usefulness when they stopped using coal By DAILY MAIL REPORTER PUBLISHED: 01:19 EST, 12 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:31 EST, 12 September 2013 The town of Lester, seen in images from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, in central Washington State was once a service stop for trains running from Seattle to Minneapolis on the Great Northern railway line, but it is now a ghost town. The last surviving resident of the town, which was founded in the 1892 in the picturesque Cascade Mountains, a woman by the name of Gertrude Murphy, died in 2002 at the age of 99. Now, the town stands as a testament to the changing face of America in the post industrial age. Go to link to see the amazing photos. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2418419/Washington-State-ghost-town-haunting-photos-bustling-railroad-village-frozen-time.html#ixzz2h08MqCXC
  3. Wednesday, October 2, 2013 Haunting a Ghost Town Unofficial mayor John Elwood is one of the last residents of Elberton, Wash. Matt Benoit Elberton, circa 1904 [Photo: Dixie Roach and the Whitman County Library Rural Heritage Project ] John Elwood lives in a town that no longer exists.Where churches, hotels and homes once lined the streets, now remain the few forlorn fragments of an Eastern Washington ghost town: an old cemetery; a boarded-up brick church; an unused railroad trestle straddling the banks of the Palouse River. Elberton, Wash., is a place where the pavement ends and the past begins. “Rather few people really get the opportunity to live in a rural setting in the Palouse country,” says Elwood, 62, who lives in a century-old home with his wife, a cat named Tom Kitten, and two dogs, Barkis and Pip. Elberton, 60 miles south of Spokane, is one of only two Washington towns in the past 50 years to disincorporate, or give up its official status as a town. Two others, Gold Bar and Mesa, have recently mulled disincorporation due to budget issues. Although Elberton is now a quiet residential community of less than 15 people, it was once, as Elwood puts it, an “up-and-comer.” The town got its start in the 1870s, and succeeding decades brought rail service and growth. With a population of 500 at the turn of the 20th century, Elberton enjoyed an economic boom spurred by a sawmill, a flour mill, acres of prune orchards and a four-furnace fruit dryer said to be — at one time — the largest in the world. The town also hosted the famed Elberton Picnic — a three-day, fair-like event so big that former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan once attended to give a speech. After a while, though, hard times befell Elberton. Decline and Demise The demise began when the local sawmill moved to Idaho after exhausting local timber resources. A fire in 1908 and flood in 1910 destroyed portions of the town. Eventually, Elberton’s flour mill closed, and prompted by improving transportation to larger towns, so did the rest of its once-thriving business district. Largely residential in the following decades, Elberton’s population shrank to less than 70 by 1966. That year, after a series of bridge repairs exceeded the town’s operating budget, the town disincorporated. When a town disincorporates, the majority of its assets and powers are transferred to either the county or state. In Elberton’s case, a 1969 grant allowed Whitman County’s parks and recreation department to take ownership of most of the former town’s land. The county envisioned turning the site into a county park that doubled as a living history museum, but a lack of finances sidelined those plans. John Elwood's Elberton home was once the town's polling place. | Derek Harrison photo Today, a few residents and a ropes course, operated and maintained annually by the Palouse River Counseling Center, are the only active portions of Elberton. “It’s just sad that the little town had to die,” says Bill Stern, 66, who grew up on his father’s farm just outside Elberton’s city limits. Stern recalls a childhood spent playing games in front of an old general store that’s now a bare foundation with a derelict basketball hoop. Children would swim in the Palouse River during the summer and ice skate on it during the winter. Charlotte Mundell, 71, was raised in Elberton and remembers Sunday school classes at the still-standing United Brethren Church, built in 1913. The classes were held in the basement, which filled with mud after a 1996 flood. Little House on the Palouse And then there’s Elwood, who has watched over the site as Elberton’s “mayor” since moving there in 1982 from outside of Colfax. The faux title was given to him years ago by D.A. Davidson, Elberton’s last official mayor who ran Elberton’s final business — a general store — until the mid-1970s. Stepping into Elwood’s home is like stepping back in time. There are no computers or televisions. In the kitchen sits a cast-iron stove. On a nearby wall hangs a gray rotary phone. Hanging near the front door, on an enclosed porch, is a framed 1944 voting poster. Elwood found it in an old shed on his property. The house, he says, once was Elberton’s polling place. Elwood’s doorbell, repaired using a bell from a tricycle, is indicative of the remodeled and somewhat cannibalized nature of his home: various parts and pieces — including a brown-and-gray, paint-cracked backyard door taken from a painter’s former residence — were removed from other unoccupied area homes. In the backyard — not far from where Elberton’s picnic grounds once featured a dance pavilion, grandstand and horse-racing track — are several sheds, wooden swings, two gardens and a chicken pen. During the summer, Elwood and his wife sleep outside in a wooden pavilion situated near a sheepherders’ wagon that’s now a sauna. Although the Elwoods originally paid rent to the county to live in their home, the rest of Elberton’s rental homes were eventually abandoned or burned as training exercises for local firefighters. Today, the couple is only responsible for the house’s upkeep. “It’s only here because we saved it,” says Elwood with a laugh. “And when we’re done with it, my guess is that [the county] will be, too.” Until that time, however, Elwood likely will be content as Elberton’s “mayor,” keeping tabs on the old church, admiring the land’s natural beauty, and telling anyone who’ll listen about this nearly forgotten part of the Palouse. This article was provided by Murrow News Service, which is produced by journalism students at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. http://www.inlander.com/spokane/article-19789-haunting-a-ghost-tow.html
  4. A number of issues of The Washington Historian Journal, from 1899 to 1901. The_Washington_Historian_April_1900.pdf The_Washington_Historian_April_1901.pdf The_Washington_Historian_January_1901.pdf The_Washington_Historian_July_1900.pdf The_Washington_Historian_July_1901.pdf The_Washington_Historian_October_1900.pdf The_Washington_Historian_September_1899.pdf
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