BIG BEND COUNTRY, 1887
Letter to the Editor
Taken from The New Era, August 26, 1887 issue, published at Ellensburgh, Kittitas County, Washington Territory; it originally was one paragraph but additional paragraphing has been added for ease of reading. Waterville is now the county seat of Douglas County. Wenatchee, though at one time part of Kittitas County, is now the county seat of Chelan County.
Waterville, W. T., Aug. 23rd, '87.
Editor, New Era:
Persons in coming to the Big Bend country from Ellensburgh have their choice after reaching the Columbia river of two routes, the first v. of the Wenatchee steam ferry and up the canyon to Waterville, or crossing the Columbia at the mouth of the Coulee. In fact persons on horseback have their choice of another route over the Nanum trails, which route is almost an air line to Wenatchee, Waterville, Foster creek ferry and Salmon river mines.
This short route has been traveled by teams on either side up to within a distance of uniting of some 6 or 8 miles. This is the road the people of Wenatchee talked and howled so much about last winter when the snow was 7 or 8 feet on this same route, and said they had raised some $900 to begin work and now when the road can be worked and the right time of year to make a mountain road, they are like the boy who tells in mid-winter how much hay he can pitch in harvest, and visa versa, how much snow he can shovel as he sits in the shade of a friendly tree during the sweltering heat of a July or an August sun.
Fifteen miles up the Coulee from its mouth is where Chief Moses once held domination and made his headquarters during the Indian excitement of 1877. It was then in nature's wildness given over to a thick growth of underbrush. Here is where the braves ran races and gambled, whilst the squaws dug roots, gathered berries and dried salmon. Now this place, with a number of others, have been reclaimed by the white man, and fine corn fields, timothy meadows and orchards show the returns for the white man's labor.
North and east of this place thousands of acres of prairie land, as far as the eye can reach, stretches out before one like an unbroken sea. Finer or better land I never saw in Iowa or Minnesota, which the country very much resembles. It seems to us that it will only be a matter of a very few years when this excellent body of land will be dotted over with happy homes. Groves of trees planted out will change the barren and bleak appearance of this section the same as the western states have been changed.
Waterville, a village situated at the north and west end of Badger mountain, seems to be the coming town of this section of the Big Bend. It is named Waterville, not because there are any lakes or streams near where the town is laid out, but because the people succeed in getting water by digging, and to counteract a possible impression that may have gone abroad that water cannot be got by digging wells. The town is happily situated on the road leading from Ellensburgh to the mines, some two miles from the foot hills of Badger mountain and commands a fine view of the surrounding country. The town has been laid out and brought into notice by the energy and management of Judge J. M. SNOW. It is already becoming ambitious, as Major RODGERS, of the Manitoba railroad, has been making a reconnaissance through that section. The supposition is that this road will pass up the Wenatchee through the Cle-elum and Swauk and Snoqualmie pass to tide water. This road and the Seattle and Eastern are making the Northern get in and drill. So not to be out done the N.P. has got a crew in the same pass of same route.
Another thing particularly noticeable and encouraging about this section is the crops, which without question are fine. The height of the grain, the stand and the plumpness of the kernel, were all first class. We were shown samples, which will be on exhibition at the fair in your county, and which will make old Kittitas look well to her laurels. The farmers believe that by summer following and fall sowing there will be no trouble whatever about a good yield every year.
Twenty-five miles down the canyon and along the banks of the Columbia brings us to the Wenatchee steam ferry, Messrs. ADAMS & CUMMINS, proprietors, where we were steamed over in a few minutes in good shape. The Wenatchee valley is certainly the Los Angelos of the upper Columbia river basin. Corn, grapes, peaches, watermelons, in fact all kinds of vegetables and fruit that grow in a semi-tropical climate grow here in luxuriance and profusion. The farmers of this valley will make a good thing by shipping their corn meal to Puget Sound. Land in this valley will be very valuable when a railroad passes through that section.