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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.

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Awesome write up and photos Kyle!

Thanks Bob, there's more where that came from that I'll hopefully get uploaded in the next few weeks.

 

 

Thanks for the report. I may check it out on my way to Seattle.

It's definitely a neat place to visit. There are quite a few ghostly towns in the area, but Winona is really the most so. Also, don't feel intimidated if there's anyone working on the buildings downtown, in my experience at least one of the gentlemen is quite friendly.

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Winona, Washington continued:

 

Located in the wye where the Union Pacific main line and branch to Pullman meet is the only reminder of the railroad's operations at Winona, the foundation of the former water tower.

 

At the far end of former Main Street from downtown stands the grain elevator built circa 1920 by the Sperry Flour Company. In 1929, Sperry became a part of General  Mills, as still can be seen in the ghostly lettering on the side of the structure.

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Awesome Kyle, are those buildings accessible?

I tried to get access to the church, but the owner's wife wasn't comfortable letting anyone look inside. Instead she just told me to take pictures from the fence line. As far as I know the grain elevator is still active, as it looked like a fairly new grain bin alongside it. As for the buildings downtown, I can't say. They look like they're kept closed-up pretty tightly, but asking the right questions when the gentlemen working around them are their could get a visitor inside.

 

 

May be something to see next year. Thanks for posting.

It's definitely some country worth visiting. There's quite a bit in the old towns and farmsteads in between that looks almost as if someone just decided to get up and walk away.

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Wow, time really can fly by when you're keeping yourself distracted...

Anyways, for the next entry from my roadtrip, I bring you a little bit on...

Creston, Washington

Originally established as a station on the Washington Central Railroad in 1890, named for being the high point on the line to Coulee City. That same year an H.S. Huson purchased a plot of land from the railroad for $800, and on June 23rd platted the townsite. Soon a store was moved to town from the nearby community of Sherman, and a post office was established. The Panic of 1893 bankrupted the town's owner, and devolpment stagnated, but fortunately a bumper wheat crop in 1897 spurred growth, with a school, store, hotel and flour mill soon being added to the community. By 1903, when the citizens voted to incorporate, the town had grown to over 100 residents and by the 1910 Census, the trend had continued, with 308 people living in town. Among the development in that time was the construction in 1905 of a new brick building to house the Creston State Bank.

Unfortunately, the town's continued success was stymied by a great fire that broke out on July 17th, 1925. Heavy gusts of winds spread the flames with no hope for stopping them, and by the time the fire burnt itself out, half of the town had been leveled. Among the losses was nearly the entire business district, with the bank building left as one of the few surviving structures. Two years later the town passed a new building code to prevent future blazes, but by that point automobiles allowed for easy access to the nearby towns of Wilbur and Davenport, leaving little chance for the business district to recover. This misfortune, coupled with the effects of the Great Depression, meant that by 1930 the population had dropped by a third to 216. As an additional affront, the bank moved to Davenport as well, leaving the town to purchase the building.

The establishment of the Lincoln Lumber Company on the shore of Lake Roosevelt north of Creston helped boost the town in the days after the depression, and by 1970 the Census showed an all time high population of 325. Unfortunately, the mill closed in 1983. In addition, the construction of Interstate 90 resulted in less cross state traffic on US Highway 2 through Creston, and by 1990 the population decreased to 230. In the years since, Creston has remained a sleepy farm town, supported mainly by local grain growers and a handful of business on Highway 2.

Though still an active and fairly well-kept town, perhaps the best indication of Creston's decline over the years is the ghostly main street. The bank building, now used as the town hall, is the only traditional building left on Creston Avenue, and none of the commercial structures seen on Sanborn Maps facing the railroad tracks remain. After a slight rise in recent decades, current estimates predict that the population has dropped to a current total of 217.

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Edited by Fairlane500

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Next on my list comes...

Hooper, Washington

Since its founding circa 1883, Hooper has been a central part of the operations of the McGregor Company, a fertilizer giant with operations spanning the Northwest's Inland Empire. The McGregor family originally came to Washington Territory as sheep farmers, and set their eyes on expanding their operations. They soon founded the community of Hooper, situated near the border between Whitman and Adams Counties, envisioning it as a burgeoning center for sheep raising and shearing that might soon grow into a metropolis. 

Though the optimistic predictions of a population of 90,000 were never reached, by the 1920's Hooper did manage to boast a population of approximately 200. In addition, the town also featured a company store, post office, hotel, saloon and schoolhouse. Though the McGregor Company, which expanded its operations to include wheat and fertilizer, has succeeded in lasting the decades since, many of the town's institutions have not. The post office still operates, but the store is closed, used now for company offices, as is the hotel. The saloon, moved multiple times across the county line depending on liquor laws of the day, is now also shuttered. As for the school, all that remains is a small memorial in the center of the town site, elaborating on the building's legacy and topped by its former bell.

Today, the 20 or so remaining residents, most of which are employee families, truly make up among the last of Washington State's company towns.

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Edited by Fairlane500

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On 10/18/2014 at 9:54 AM, Fairlane500 said:

I tried to get access to the church, but the owner's wife wasn't comfortable letting anyone look inside. Instead she just told me to take pictures from the fence line. As far as I know the grain elevator is still active, as it looked like a fairly new grain bin alongside it. As for the buildings downtown, I can't say. They look like they're kept closed-up pretty tightly, but asking the right questions when the gentlemen working around them are their could get a visitor inside.

 

 

It's definitely some country worth visiting. There's quite a bit in the old towns and farmsteads in between that looks almost as if someone just decided to get up and walk away.

I was just in Winona WA and live about 20 miles from there. I had a nice talk with the owner of the church and found out some history about the town.  Blow are some pictures that I took.. The first one is of the old Threader,  the 2nd is the old Church , the 3rd is what"s left of the school, the 4th - 6th is of a old homestead

WIPED OUT BY EXPLOSION

Dynamite in Burning Depot Destroys Town of Winona.

SPOKANE, Aug. 3. - Fire and an explosion of dynamite stored in the Oregon Railroad & Navigation company's coal sheds at Winona, Wash., killed one man, injured 20 people and almost wiped the town out of existence, late last night.

R. E. Buchanan, a car inspector, was killed, and his body burned to a crisp while trying to save some of the goods of the company from the freight shed. L. D. Broils, car inspector, had his face disfigured with fire. William Walls, postmaster and druggist, had his face badly burned, head and hand injured. About 20 other people received slight injuries.

The dynamite had been stored by the company last autumn, following the completion of work on a cut near town. Train No. 8 set fire to the depot. The majority of the people did not know the dynamite was there, and assisted in fighting the fire. Then the dynamite and a gasoline tank exploded.

Every House Damaged.

Every house and building in town was damaged. Windows and doors were blown in and household furniture smashed. The explosion was heard for miles around. Fire followed, destroying a large share of the town. The Commercial hotel was completely destroyed, entailing a loss of $1,800; Lester's general store, $5,500; Bank of Winona, $500; Dr. Victor's office, $1,800; Fockler & Shappard, saloon, $400; Hart hotel, $300. The company denies that there was dynamite in the coal shed, but dozens of residents are ready to swear that there was.

A coroner's inquest is in progress and two deputy sheriffs from Colfax are investigating. The company, it is claimed, will be held liable for the total damage.

The O. R. & N. depot, coal sheds, section houses and watertank were blown to pieces and burned.

The Morning Olympian, Olympia, WA 4 Aug 1907

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On 10/14/2014 at 0:31 AM, Fairlane500 said:
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.

IMG_5235-001.jpg

IMG_5280-001.jpg

Now that I've found the prize photo to go with this story...  There are a couple items I'm anxious to bring to light.  Winona suffered a bigger tragedy in 1907 when a stash of TNT stored by the OWR&N exploded.  The combined motel/restaurant and Post Office next to it on the north side of main street was instantly demolished.  My grandfathers store was built and opened in 1909 primarily across the street from where the motel stood.  I had been told he started his business as a harness shop, and then expanded into general hardware to help the need of the area farmers.  The post office moved into a stone structure next door...what used to be the bank!  The Messenger's grocery store was next in line, and the Grange Hall after that.  Winona was a great place for a kid to live...having the entire town to run around (as long as you were home in time for dinner!), and being a fan of railroads didn't hurt either.  Union Pacific would have two trains going through town five days a week; running a northbound from Ayer to Spokane on Saturdays, and a southbound on Sundays.  So, between the three grain elevators, a handful of neighbors, the family store...it wasn't hard to keep yourself busy as a kid!  So, in closing, here's a picture of the interior of my grandfather Kuehl's hardware store.  There's a crib note on the back stating the picture was taken in 1939.  The other picture is one I took after the business had been sold, but before it was all boarded up.

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yes, as I mentioned, I took that storefront pic after the store was sold (which is why you see the newer "B&J hardware and grocery" sign...but I never put a date on the slide so I have no exact clue when I did the shot...sorry!

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I meant to say "your shoP'..  however now I'm very confused, the pics were posted by @Fairlane500 but you took them?? 

never mind, now I see.. you had quoted the original post with pictures and added your own toward the end.. it was a bit hard for my old brain to follow ;-)

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No problem...but I'm feeling kind of awkward myself now...I went to describe in detail the list of downtown businesses; In Kyle's shot, my grandfather's store stands, the stone building that was the bank turned Post Office is there, but there's a gap between the P.O. and the grange hall where the blasted grocery store used to be!!!  Whoops...

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Thank you for posting this Kyle. I wonder if anyone knows if the Winona Hotel was destroyed in the fire because from a very early photo it looks like it was brick and sat next to a curve on the railroad track. But looking at the curves today I see nothing of a foundation, of course portions of the track may have been removed where it once sat.    

WinonaWash.jpg

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Answered my question = it was blown up in an accident early 1900's. Thanks also to Grandma Tina and Harley for the amazing pictures. BTW, if anybody is on Facebook check out this page. These people are rebuilding an early train like the one they have a shot of passing by the Hotel =   

 

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