Today, Nicole Hardina, author of Little Washington, takes us to the town of Waverly. Founded in 1879, the town has a population of 106.
A Complicated Past
The town of Waverly received a post office and a name in 1879. Then, while other Inland Empire towns met the railroad and began to flourish, Waverly remained a lonely outpost. An early history describes it as a “little village, quiet and serene . . . remote from the scenes of turmoil and strife.” However, Waverly’s most prominent feature speaks to a history that is anything but bucolic.
Hangman Creek winds through Waverly. Uncultivated land approaches the creek’s edge. Farmed acres stop for a treeline, a rocky butte, and a soft marsh. The water looks as though it might spill over its edges, glimmering gently past farmhouses. The name was long ago changed to Latah Creek, but it’s still widely known as Hangman—and for a reason. The Spokane Historical society isn’t pulling any punches in its description: “This is the site of a murder.”
In 1858, the Spokane and Yakama tribes resisted treaty terms, and violence erupted in Eastern Washington. When the tribes defeated Colonel Steptoe’s 150 men, Colonel George Wright sent hundreds more in their place. Chief Owhi, whose son, Qualchan, was wanted for murder, tried to negotiate with Wright, who took Owhi hostage. Not knowing Wright had imprisoned his father, Qualchan entered the camp on his own peace mission, along with his wife, son, and brother. Wright ordered Qualchan hanged. The next day, Chief Owhi tried to escape and was shot and killed. In three days, Wright ordered the hangings of more than a dozen people, all of whom had approached with a white flag, symbolizing their peaceful intentions.
By the time A. D. Thayer homesteaded on Hangman Creek, evidence of the violence was long gone. Two decades later, Waverly began to flourish. The Washington State Sugar Beet Factory, established in 1898, employed 150 men. The Waverly Optimist reported in 1899 that laborers made $1.50 per day, while “skilled superintendents” earned as much as $7,500 per year, or more than $250,000 in today’s dollars.
A dam across the creek fed water to the factory. Soon the railroad came, and multiple grain producers established warehouses and elevators in Waverly. In 1900, the population had blossomed to 895. Ten years later, the sugar beet factory closed, and the bloom began to wilt.
In Waverly today, Hangman Creek Bar and Grill is closed and boarded up. Peeling signs in the windows upstairs advertise Miss Elsie’s 5¢ baths and Doctor Yankum’s dentistry services. Concrete memorials at the park’s edge remember beloved townspeople and war veterans. In 1935, the Spokane County Pioneers Association established a memorial at the site where the hanging tree once stood.
In 1910, Washington state had more than 2,700 school districts. Not quite a century later, that number has declined by about 90%. Spokane County had some of the first schools in Washington, dating to the 1830s. The first schools often took place in settlers’ homes until a community secured funding for a dedicated building.
As the population increased, communities often abandoned their log cabin schools in favor of wood frame and, later, brick schools. As the student population grew, schools diversified, distinguishing elementary and junior-high education programs and locating them in their own schools. By 1915, Washington boasted 500 high schools.
The boom in school construction continued until the Depression, when a lack of funding put the brakes on school spending. Despite funding scarcity, many new schools were built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration. Even with the government-sponsored infusion of capital, by the end of WWII, school consolidations in rural areas had begun in earnest. After the war, urban centers grew at the expense of rural communities, and by 1946, nearly all one-room schools had closed. The Prairie View school in Waverly was one of them.
From 1904 to 1938, the school served as many as 40 students in a year. The simple, wood frame building boasted an iron stove for heat and a curved stage for the teacher’s desk. Prairie View is the oldest example of its kind in Spokane County. Long since fallen into disuse, the school malingered in a cottonwood grove, its porch sagging, wind rushing through its empty windows. Then, in 2013, preservationists decided to move and restore the decaying school. With a fundraising effort that garnered thousands in private donations, the southeast Spokane Historical society led the effort to preserve the history of public education in eastern Washington. Today, the school has a new foundation and a new roof. A modern door stands between the weather and the schoolroom. The clapboard siding is original, but the windows are brand-new. If left abandoned, nature would have taken the school back. After years of snow and neglect, the roof would have collapsed, and then the walls. Instead, the Prairie View school stands on the corner of South Prairie View Road as it curves out of, or into, town, like a greeting or parting message for visitors.
Driving through any city’s residential neighborhoods between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. can be a slow affair. When children are present, the speed limit usually tops out at 20 miles per hour. In Waverly, the school has been closed for a long time. Still, a hand-painted sign asks travelers to keep it under 25 mph. A father shepherds two children and a dog on the short walk from the park to their home. He holds the kids’ hands and they stick to the sidewalk, though mine is the only car on the road.
Waverly is the smallest incorporated town in Spokane County, and it feels like it. Visitors to Waverly might be forgiven for looking around and asking, “What makes a town a town?” There is a fire department, a Grange, and evidence of agriculture. Other than that, there’s a collection of houses, a controlled burn, a barking dog, a shuttered door, a babbling stream. There’s history here, for sure. A future feels less certain.
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Learn to identify birds in Florida, and make bird-watching even more enjoyable with Stan Tekiela’s famous Birds of Florida Field Guide. This book features 140 species of Florida birds organized by color for ease of use. Do you see a yellow bird and don’t know what it is? Go to the yellow section to find out.
This new edition includes more species, updated photographs and range maps, revised information, and even more of Stan’s expert insights.
Here are some amazing birds to watch out for:
The Crested Caracara is the largest member of the falcon family. The bird is often found in the open savanna or in tropical scrubland habitat.
The Crested Caracara mainly feeds on roadkill, often coursing (patrolling) at low elevations on roads at sunrise. It is very different from all other raptors in North America, using its legs to stalk and chase prey such as mice.
It is often seen in the company of vultures, but it glides on flat wings, unlike vultures in flight, which hold their wings upward in a semi-V shape. At night it roosts in trees.
One of Florida’s most dramatic-looking birds, commonly seen in the Everglades, is the Purple Gallinule. The bird uses its extremely long toes to walk on floating vegetation in freshwater and saltwater marshes, where it hunts for grasshoppers and other insects, seeds, and frogs. Family groups stay together, and the first brood sometimes helps raise the second. The Purple Gallinule moves out of northern Florida during winter and can be seen year-round in the southern part of the state. Individuals are known to wander well north of Florida.
Found in central Florida and nowhere else, the Scrub-Jay is well known for its cooperative breeding system in which the young from one year help to raise the young of the new year. The bird has a wide variety of raspy, hoarse calls and prefers a transitional scrubby habitat, usually of oak trees around 10 feet (3 m) tall with some openings. The Scrub-Jay is not a backyard bird, like the Blue Jay. Sadly, it is a threatened species and its population has declined up to 90% over the last century due to habitat loss.
So grab Birds of Florida Field Guide for your next birding adventure―to help ensure that you positively identify the many birds that you see.
About the author: Naturalist, wildlife photographer, and writer Stan Tekiela has written more than 175 field guides, nature books, children’s books, wildlife audio CDs, puzzles, and playing cards, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, trees, wildflowers, and cacti in the United States. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural History from the University of Minnesota and as an active professional naturalist for more than 25 years, Stan studies and photographs wildlife throughout the United States and Canada. He has received various national and regional awards for his books and photographs.
Also a well-known columnist and radio personality, his syndicated column appears in more than 25 newspapers, and his wildlife programs are broadcast on a number of Midwest radio stations. Stan can be followed on Facebook and Twitter. He can be contacted via www.naturesmart.com.
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Little Washington presents 100 of the state’s tiniest towns. With populations under 2,000, these charming and unique locations dot the entire state―from Neah Bay along the Northwest coast to LaCrosse, a farming community in the eastern county of Whitman.
With full-color photographs, fun facts, and fascinating details about every locale, it’s almost as if you’re walking down Main Street, waving hello to folks who know all of their neighbors.
The selected locations help readers to appreciate the broader history of small-town life in Washington. Yet each featured town boasts a distinct narrative, as unique as the citizens who call these places home. These residents are innovators, hard workers, and―most of all―good people.
The locations range from quaint to historic, and they wonderfully represent the Evergreen State. Little Washington, written by Nicole Hardina, is for anyone who grew up in a small town and for everyone who takes pride in being called a Washingtonian. These towns may be small, but they have huge character!
Little Washington is Nicola Hardina’s attempt, 100 times over, to get to know the state she calls home. It’s part history, part travelogue, and a love letter to the Evergreen State.
About the author: Nicole Hardina has lived in Washington for more than 20 years, in towns big and small. Alaska-grown, she is a Seattle-based writer sharing an apartment with two cats, a guitar, and several overflowing bookcases. Her writing has appeared in Scope, Months to Years, Out There Outdoors, the Bellingham Review, Proximity, and elsewhere. She received a Grant for Artist Projects award from the Artist Trust in 2016 and is working on a memoir that is equal parts grief account and love letter to the Pacific Northwest. When not writing, she can be found on a flying trapeze or via her website, www.nicolehardina.com.
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The post Little Washington: A Nostalgic Look at the Evergreen State’s Smallest Towns appeared first on Adventure Publications.
As more and more people look to hiking for exercise, as a hobby, as a challenge, for improving their mental health, and simply as a way to enjoy nature, many need advice on where to go.
I often see Facebook posts from people asking for ideas on where to hike if they want to “jump in a lake” at trail’s end, to drive less than an hour from their home city, to see a moose, to watch a sunset or sunrise, or to take young children along. By my very unscientific math, these particular answers can be found, 9 times out of 10, through a recommended app.
Even though I do some online research ahead of hiking at times and use an app for tracking my miles and other details on trails, I’m still an advocate for using books over apps when I recommend trails. And my suggested answers to most hiking questions can be found in my book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver and Boulder. Or I can point you towards a very specific trail (which likely also happens to be one of the 60 hikes in my book).
Before becoming a guidebook author myself, I often turned to a two-volume set of books called Colorado’s Best Wildflower Hikes (Westcliffe Publishers, 1998), and I have referenced many others just out of curiosity and for fun. This doesn’t always mean I have had the book in my backpack during a hike, but I would have read it ahead of time in search of inspiration and ideas for an outing with family and friends as we determined what we wanted: shade? wildflowers? a waterfall?
In my opinion, here are the pros and cons of hiking apps v. hiking books.
Available on portable handheld device
Latest updates on road and trail conditions
Hard to know bias or ability or experience of reviewer
Details can be for the wrong trails or outdated trails (I’ve seen this a few times, along with contradictory opinions/information.)
Advice of one or two people rather than dozens to hundreds of opinions
Condensed reference information per hike in one place
Also available on digital devices
Make great gifts
Types of hikes categorized to narrow down your search
Bulky to carry in a backpack
Neither books nor apps are always necessarily free, but both can be. Some apps are free to start, but as you increase what information you want, there might be a monthly or annual cost. Books might be available in a Little Free Library or found at a traditional library at no cost, though I like to encourage people to support local independent bookstores by purchasing a book or two or three.
There’s no reason that books and apps can’t be used in tandem for hike research; in fact, if you have the time, it can be helpful to cross-reference multiple sources. However, it’s also OK to explore and have a little adventure in the unknown too.
Birding is big—and getting bigger. As topsy-turvy as this year has been, its events have shaken up enough routines to cause people to notice new things in the world, and that includes the birds flying around their homes.
Maybe the boom in new birders is simply tied to the fact that many of us are safe at home and looking out the windows at times when we’d normally be stuck in traffic commuting. Or maybe, even during quarantine, people have found that they want to get outside and, for social distancing reasons, have discovered new places to go. Birding fills that bill nicely.
Of course, it could be that in a digitally-engaged-always-on-Zoom world, people are finally waking up to what birders have always known: Birding is fun, and you’re guaranteed to see some amazing things. As a hobby, birding gets a lot right.
- There’s a very low cost to get started.
- There’s a low learning curve.
- It works great for small groups.
- It works just as well for individuals.
- It takes you outside and away from screens.
- Birders are introduced to more about the world around them.
- It’s a hobby that you can participate in year-round.
This is why we partnered with award-winning author and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela for a whole new Bird Watching Basics series to help folks get started with birding.
Stan Tekiela’s Birding for Beginners
There are 7 books in the series that are available for preorder now. Each one is based on a different region of the United States, allowing readers the chance to focus quickly on whatever they see. So you’ll be able to find specific books for California, the Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, South, and the Southwest. Each book focuses on what you are most likely to see and provides field markings on each photo to help you easily identify the birds in your backyard.
These books for beginning birders also have information on birdseed and other bird foods. Not all birds eat the same kinds of foods, and you’ll be amazed at how the mix of birds in your yard changes once certain foods, feeders, bird houses, etc., are put into use. The guides also have information on bird nests and trees, as well as a few words on the habits and migration patterns of some of the birds in each region.
So check out Stan Tekiela’s Birding for Beginners series and pre-order your regional guide today. Also, check out the publisher’s blog over at Adventure Publications for more detailed information about the series and to enter the great giveaway going on right now. There’s still plenty of time to enter!
Stay safe and get outside!
[Note: the following information was current as of August 1, 2020.]
The Bighorn Fire, named for the bighorn sheep that roam the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, began after a lightning strike hit those mountains on June 5th, 2020. Fanned by high winds and exacerbated by hot, dry weather often exceeding 100°F, the fire burned for almost 7 weeks, burning 119,978 acres (178.5 square miles) of forest. At its height, more than 1,000 firefighting personnel were involved in containing the blaze, and several helicopters and aircraft were used to dump water and fire-retardant slurry over remote areas that could not be reached by road.
The village of Summerhaven high on Mount Lemmon was evacuated, and many residents of homes in the Santa Catalina Foothills were also forced to leave. Fortunately, the fire crews were successful in saving the buildings and no lives were lost or major injuries reported. While some wildlife unfortunately did not survive, many animals were able to escape the fire. In fact, a herd of 14 bighorn sheep was seen strolling through a suburban neighborhood in late July.
The US Forest Service has closed all facilities in the Santa Catalinas until November 1st. With the annual monsoon rains expected through September, it is likely that the burned-out areas will not be able to absorb the rainfall and dangerous flash flooding will result. There have already been some flash floods of tarry water carrying blackened debris closing roads and potentially threatening homes. All trails have been closed until the flood danger is over and crews have inspected trails to assess if they are safe and passable.
This means that trails described in the Mount Lemmon, Sabino Canyon, and Santa Catalina Foothills sections of the book are closed. Also, Sabino Canyon and the Catalina State Park are closed until further notice. The Mount Lemmon Highway was temporarily closed during the fire but reopened on August 1st with restricted access to Summerhaven. Because parking space is limited, the road may close temporarily until space is available. Further information is available on the Pima County Sheriff’s Road Condition Report at (520) 547-7510.
Saguaro National Park is open. However, both visitor centers are closed until further notice.
I live 2 miles south of the evacuation zone in the Catalina Foothills. During most of June and into July, I could see the fire burning, huge clouds of smoke billowing, and firefighting helicopters and aircraft passing overhead. Often, I could smell the smoke. Most residents of Tucson and the surrounding communities experienced the same to a greater or lesser extent. 2020 has been an abnormal year for everyone, and Tucsonans got hit with a little bit extra.
When things improve in the fall, I will report back with details of which trails are reopened. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay hydrated, and please wear a mask in public places as mandated by Pima County and the city of Tucson.
About the Author: Rob Rachowiecki is the author of Five Star Hikes: Tucson, which focuses on 38 Spectacular Hikes around the Old Pueblo. He has authored hiking and climbing guides to Central America and the Central Andes, as well as travel guides to Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and the American Southwest.