Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Walla Walla Winds Through Washington History

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Teapot Dome gas station operating

south of Walla Walla since 1922



By Sandy Katz

Mature Life Features

WALLA WALLA, Wash.—- This city of  “many waters,” the name it got from the Cayuse Indians, sees itself as the cradle of Northwest history, partly because the state’s constitution was drafted here in the historic Reynolds Day. It’s also the 2001 winner of the Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Sunset Magazine’s “Best Main Street in the West” title.

The frontier-era days are  preserved in the Fort Walla Walla Museum. Situated on the 19th century military reserve, it showcases a life-size Lewis & Clark diorama, a 33-mule team, panoramic 1920s harvest mural, and a pioneer settlement of 16 buildings. Five large exhibit halls display a range of domestic, agricultural, commercial, and military items used by early residents. On Sundays, the museum features living history re-enactors in period costumes portraying lives of prominent Yakima Valley residents from the 1800s.

Nearby Dayton, an historic agricultural town, features the state’s oldest courthouse and depot, and has 83 homes on the National Historic Register.

An hour’s drive west of Walla Walla are the tri-cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland nestled in the heart of the state’s wine country. More than 50 wineries are clustered in a 50-mile radius at the southern tip of the 1.4-million acre Yakama Indian Reservation, known officially as the Yakama Nation. Just east of the reservation, on former Indian land, is the Hanford Atomic Energy Reservation that played a key role in the development of the world’s first atomic bomb in the 1940s. The Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology Museum in Richland showcases the area’s role in World War II’s Manhattan Project that produced the bomb as well as tells the story of the Columbia River basin and surrounding region. Exhibits deal with laser technology, robots, hazardous wastes, and the power of the harnessed atom.

Toppenish, 12 miles south of Yakima and the administrative center of the Yakama Nation, touts the slogan “Where the West Still Lives.” Once a center of Native American life until it was displaced by cattlemen, settlers, railroads, and farming, the town depicts its history in some 60 murals on the sides of buildings and walls.

The Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Heritage Center features life-size dwellings of the Plateau People, dioramas, and exhibits augmented by narratives, music, and sound effects. The museum has a mannequin exhibit, “The Great Native American Leaders” and, through the nearby restaurant, can arrange tasting parties to sample such native food as fried bread and luk-a-meen (fish soup).  A half-dozen  tribal gatherings, known as powwows, held each year are open to the public

Mature Life Features,  Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 24, 2012 at 12:05 am

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