Local citizens group Walla Walla 2020 recently published “Historic Sites and Markers of Walla Walla County,” a book containing descriptions and photos of 40 area historic sites, together with maps leading people to them.
The book includes 20 historic sites where WW 2020 has installed interpretive signage over the last the seven years, as well as 20 other sites of historic interest.
In addition, it contains a list of more than 280 residences and buildings in the Walla Walla area for which the group has prepared research reports or historic properties plaques over the past 25 years, including their addresses, original owners and date of construction.
Finally, the work has a list of all National Historic Register of Historic Places properties in Walla Walla County, as well as a brief history of Walla Walla 2020.
The book’s author, Daniel Clark, is a founder of Walla Walla 2020 with wife Barbara Clark and 18 others in 1988, with the purpose of envisioning, planning for and undertaking projects to help realize a livable community in the Walla Walla area now and for the future.
The invitation for the initial meeting of the group from organizer Barbara Clark invited others to participate in a day-long workshop to plan a sustainable future for Walla Walla.
The immediate objective of the workshop was to produce a preliminary vision of Walla Walla in the year 2020 and a rudimentary plan for getting from here to there. “You’ve probably thought from time to time of what the ideal city would be like. Let’s get together and see if we can help it happen.”
Since its founding, the group and its public and private partners have undertaken many projects focusing on trees, landscaping and natural resources, recycling and waste reduction, bicycles, pedestrians and transit, architecture, downtown and neighborhoods, as well as growth management and economic development.
In addition to the book, Walla Walla 2020 has put together a color brochure published by Visit Walla Walla containing county and urban area maps showing the location of all 40 of the featured sites.
The book and the mapping start at Wallula, where Walla Walla history began with ancient geology that included massive floods over 15,000 years ago, in which as much as 20 times the present discharge of all the world’s rivers flowed repeatedly down the Columbia River through Wallula Gap.
In addition, Wallula was a village site and meeting ground for indigenous peoples, a campsite for Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, the site of a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, an important destination on the Oregon Trail and the location of a steamship dock and terminal for the Northwest’s first railroad.
Beginning with the Wallula Historic Site established by Walla Walla 2020 which leads to several new hiking trails, both guides include the Two Sisters Monument and the Fort Nez Perces markers, before heading east to the Touchet River where Lewis and Clark also camped in 1806 and Walla Walla Chief Peopeomoxmox was captured leading to the Battle of Walla Walla in 1855.
From there, the guides move to the Frenchtown Historic Site, the Whitman Station on the Baker Railroad, the Whitman Mission and the Cayuse Village site.
Additional sites feature, among others, the county Poor Farm and several other historic cemeteries, as well as Germantown, Chinatown, historic schools, a widows and orphans home, two treaty council sites, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, an outdoor dance pavilion, the site of an 1866 religious community including the claimed Walla Walla Jesus, the site of Washington’s first constitutional convention, several museums and the Mullan Road Historic Site established by Walla Walla 2020.
“Historic Sites and Markers of Walla Walla County” is available at local bookstores and online booksellers. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Walla Walla 2020 historic sites fund. The Walla Walla Historic Site Maps brochure is available from Visit Walla Walla.
For more information on Walla Walla 2020 and the featured sites, go to ww2020.net. Walla Walla 2020 also has a Historic Building Plaque and Research Service, which encourages people throughout the community to take pride in their neighborhoods, whether wealthy or humble, by honoring their history and buildings with handsome plaques.
The service offers a distinctive, locally produced plaque of painted brass showing the date a structure was built, those who built or occupied it, and any other authenticated information of interest to the owner.
While the project places special emphasis on structures built before 1920, any building more than 50 years old that retains its architectural integrity qualifies for both the plaque and the research project, which offers a basic search of Walla Walla County, Penrose Memorial Library and Columbia Title Company records to assist in determining the date of construction and the owners of the property over the years.
Clark is a retired attorney and Walla Walla native. He is founder and longtime coordinator of the Living History Company at Fort Walla Walla Museum, and is coordinator and a founder of Walla Walla 2020, its Historic Sites & Markers Project and its Historic Plaques and Research Service. Contact him at P.O. Box 1222, Walla Walla WA, 99362, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.