During my week in the Palouse, I was constantly on the look out for yellow fields of canola. I did not have much luck. On my last day, a few fields broke into their yellow bloom. Thank You for the wonderful gift, what a great way to end a trip!
How much longer can this old barn stand. From the shape of the roof, the barn looks like the top had collapsed recently. I initially zipped by this old structure, then decided to turn around and do a little exploring. I respect the private property of the Palouse farmers and stick to the roads that pass by these abandoned structures. This one looked pristine with no trampled down grasses or litter around the building. I left it that way for others to enjoy.
It was a beautiful day to capture an iconic Palouse red barn scene. The sun was out, highlighting the barn front, while the clouds provided a contrasting background. The plowed field circled the barn framing it in the scene. The barn just seemed to “pose” for our workshop group in this beautiful setting. Great morning!!!
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.
“Soon to be Demolished Barn” The Palouse, Washington
On a midday wander along the little Palouse River, I spotted this old barn with a nice background of a railroad trestle and a stream. As I was photographing the barn, an elderly man walked up the road and stopped to talk. He said that he had been living in a little workers house just up the road around the corner. He had been asked to leave because the area was being plotted for a new housing development. He then told me that within the next month or two that this barn was going to be demolished for a home site.
It is sad to see the Palouse’s history fade away piece by piece. Part of my enjoyment of visiting the Palouse is to meet the locals and listen to their memories and experiences of the life in this beautiful area.
“Evening Shadows on the Palouse” The Palouse, Washington
I visualize future waves of grain rolling across these Palouse hills. We have so much to be thankful for in this beautiful country of ours. Roaming around our country side, there is so much to celebrate. It helps me focus on what is right about the world as opposed to the day to day issues I see in the news. And, from this perspective it is much easier to face and address the challenges that we all have in front of us.
Today is a day to celebrate our Country’s Birthday, enjoy the moment, and focus on what is right about our World. Have a great 4th!
For years, this tree was a cornerstone of a SW view from Steptoe Butte. It anchored a vignette of lush green (spring), golden tan (harvest), and contrasting dark and light browns (after plowing). I had last seen it during the fall of 2019, pre-Covid. It still had all its leaves and looked healthy (at least from a distance). When I saw it from Steptoe this spring during a severe draught, it had lost most of its leaves. I am afraid that this stately giant is in its last days.
On the last day of our workshop, several of us went out to photograph the tree up close. I made images from several different perspectives, but nothing seemed to express the sadness I felt seeing the tree in its dying state. Most of my images were of the lone tree against a background of rolling green hills and a cloud dotted sky. It seemed lonely, just left to die. Then I looked up and zoomed in to focus on the strong stately branches still reaching out. This is how I want to remember it.
A red barn, stately tree or two, shadows in the background, waves of wheat in the foreground, and sunlit ridges … sounds like a post card from the Palouse. Little vignettes like this are peppered all around the Palouse farmlands. As I drive around the country roads, I tend to stop for each one. I ask myself if there is something that is special. Is it the color, lines of the rolling hills, texture of the crops in the fields, light flowing across the landscape, or does it just catch my interest. Most, I just pause then drive on. A few, something inside says, “Take your time, wait for the shadows and highlights to flow across the scene to just the right position.”
And I recall John Barclay’s guidance, “When you see red, shoot!”