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Nothing lasted very long in Lamoine … or Arup.

Unless you want to talk about the schoolhouse.

It’s still standing after 100 years.

Long after Arup was platted.

Long after Arup became Lamoine.

And long after Lamoine became deserted when the railroad took a pass on the little town.

lamoine schoolhouse

Lamoine was an “excellent trading point just north of Waterville” and boasted of several stores and a blacksmith shop, wrote Honor L. Wilhelm in The Coast, a monthly magazine dedicated to news in Washington State.

“It is surrounded by a magnificent country, and a fine crop of wheat has rewarded the efforts of the farmers this year. The place has a daily mail by stage, with free mail delivery along the stage line.”

Sounds like home

Arup, according to Wikipedia, was platted and filed on November 20, 1905, by an immigrant farmer named Nels P. Nelson, who born in a little town called Aarup in Denmark.

Nels settled the area, hoping the railroad would run through and his little town would experience a boon.

Alas, it was not to be.

The menfolk met in Spokane to plan the route from the River City into the Big Bend, necessitating almost 100 miles of track, the jobs to get it down and the rich economy that would flow through the area with the railway. No question, the railroad was a big deal for the local economy, but towns in the outlying areas were forced to beg for their share of the spoils.

The Waterville Press, quoted in the January 30, 1906, edition of the Spokane Chronicle, wrote that representatives from St. Andrews, Meld, Jenn and Leahy traveled to Spokane to meet with the builders.

“Now the proper thing to do is for Waterville, Douglas, Farmer, Arup, Buckingham, Dyer and all the country benefited to get together and send representatives to meet with them and see what can be done to get them in here,” the Press’s editorial team pleaded.

“As soon as they reach St. Andrews it would be plain sailing to swing around the head of the coulee, catch all the points mentioned and reach Waterville.”

The Great Northern Railway bypassed the little town, however, and built through Withrow.

Arup disappeared from historical records some time between 1906 and 1909, says Wikipedia, and the name “Lamoine” pops up.

Something smells fishy

The little town did get itself a post office, dance hall, hardware store, blacksmith shop, feed store and — crack the bat! — a baseball team.

Nothing about that is abnormal.

The name change is.

When the townfolk were discussing the town in the general store, reported W.H. Murray, the publisher of the Withrow Banner, they latched onto a new name by happenstance.

A man named Bragg reached to the shelf and took down a can of sardines labelled “Lamoine” asking: “What is the matter with that as a name for the town?

What indeed?

The suggestion was approved.

But when the railway officials decided in 1909 to bypass Arup/Lamoine, the post office closed.

One hundred years later, it’s ranchland and all that remains is the well preserved schoolhouse.

Not a cloud in the sky

A snowstorm threatened to strike all weekend long.

Bella and I spent a couple nights in Oroville with a friend and, after driving through a blistering Rocky Mountain blizzard one month earlier, we were not looking forward to another white-knuckle route home.

We woke up to nothing more than a skiff (as we call a couple of inches in Newfoundland) but I made the executive decision to bypass Disautel Pass, south of Omak.

We busted down the 97 and headed for Brewster. It struck me then to pull my Washington State atlas out of the seat pocket and make the side trip worth it.

This was my first trip to the Lamoine schoolhouse and the snow was deep and glistening in the morning sun.

There was no trudging through the deep drifts to get closer, though, so I jumped back in the truck, bound for return trips to Highland Road and Govan, which never disappoint.

Here’s a little gallery of the trip, complete with one thrilled Maremma sheepdog rolling around in the snow:

The lure of a schoolhouse in Govan

Clink, clink.

Clink, clink.

Clanging wind chimes  were all I could hear as I stood on a road that may once have been busy with cars, horses and wagons, and maybe children playing.

I was drawn to Govan, Wash., by pictures of the abandoned schoolhouse. Shep and I made the short trek from Spokane on a cloudy, windy day … the kind of dusty wind that leaves your teeth and hair gritty.

In its heyday, writes Charles A. Stansfield in Ghosts of Washington, Govan was a neighbourhood shopping centre, sandwiched between Almira and Wilbur.

“It supplied the daily wants of the people in the surrounding area,” he says. “It had grocery, hardware, clothing, and farm supply stores. It had a post office, a school, and a church. The automobile age brought a service station, along with the seeds of doom.”

The population of Govan started to disappear as people could travel.

country road washington

“Cars and paved roads changed the rules by letting people travel much greater distances in the time they were willing to spend going shopping for basic needs. Why not go further for more variety of choice and more competitive prices? People could and did. School buses eliminated tiny one-room schools. Mechanization led to larger but fewer farms in the neighborhood and fewer customers for local stores.”

Signs of life

People still live here. Four, actually … at least according to a few sites found via Google search.  The graveyard is gone, moved to nearby Monroe in the 1970s.

An older model SUV sits in front of the home with the wind chimes but around me, there are many signs of life abandoned.

An International.

grain truck abandoned

A home, maybe once loved but long forgotten.

abandoned house washington

The schoolhouse, the piece de resistance.

abandoned schoolhouse govan washington

Others have ventured inside. I took one look at the floorboards and thought, “No, thanks.”

I imagine kids in period clothing running around the field, playing kickball or catch.

A teacher grinding chalk on a blackboard.

Memories uncovered

Russell Yates found one of the many pictures of the schoolhouse online and wrote in the comments that his grandmother had taught at the little school.

“My aunt graduated from it, and my grandfather went there in 1909,” Yates says, his comment dated Nov. 25, 2007. “About 10 years ago, he wrote a short letter to my nephew’s class telling them what school was like when he went to school in Govan.”

We could walk to school, but many of the students lived 5 or 6 miles away. They had to ride in a buggy pulled by two horses. It might take them one and a half or two hours to get to school in the morning. The big brothers or sisters drove the horses. During the day the horses stayed in a barn by the school until the kids were ready to go home again. School started at 9 a.m. and was over at 4 p.m. In the winter those who came by horse and buggy would have to go home in the dark.

The school I went to only had two rooms. In one room were Kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. In the other room were Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Each room had one teacher and about 25 students. Some teachers had older kids help younger ones. In front of the room was a row of desks for recitation. When it was time for the teacher to work with my grade, we would go up to the recitation row for reading or other learning from Mr. Sickles, who was my first teacher. The other kids would be at their own desks doing their work quietly. Each grade took turns.

One of the books I remember is Black Beauty. My parents didn’t read to me at home, but our teacher read to the class every morning.

These are the stories that cannot be lost.

They let us know where we came from, an integral piece of the path we forge as we move ahead.

Govan … not forgotten.