Bygone Days

“Elberton Church”
The Palouse, Washington

The town of Elberton has as a history similar to many of the late 19th century towns in the Palouse. It flourished for a while, then went into an irreversible decline.

In the 1870’s Giles D. Wilber built a water powered sawmill which provided lumber for nearby farms and barns. The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company build a rail line through the valley in the early 1880’s. The town was plated in 1886 by Sylvester M. Wait and was named after his son Elbert. By the end of the decade, Elberton had a sawmill, flour mill, post office, two general stores, blacksmith and wagon shop, two grain warehouses, livery stable, and a church. During the 1890’s, the town continued to grow. Fruit trees were planted as a major crop. By 1900, the town had a population of 400.

After the turn of the century, the town began to decline. The sawmill moved to Idaho after all the nearby timber had been cut. The town experienced a devastating fire in 1908 and severe flooding in 1910. Elberton then rapidly declined.

During my little exploration, all I could see that remained of the town was the railroad trestle, the church, old building foundations, a few pieces of farm equipment, and several remains of old non-native landscape shrubs and trees. It was an interesting off the beaten path excursion.

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