Loose on the Palouse

One scene, two visions

Back to schools

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:

A housebound escape

This doesn’t have anything to do with reading.

Even though reading is the best escape I can take without leaving the house.

No, this is about losing myself on my laptop in a way that doesn’t involve writing.

I’ve been learning how to use Photoshop, trying to get better at this art called photography. Back in May, I spent a day on the Palouse with a helluva photographer named Chip Phillips. He taught me about exposure bracketing and left me with a video that teaches how to merge two or more frames for a high-dynamic range photo (HDR).

Yeah, yeah … if you’ve ever seen me rant on Twitter about bad HDR photography, you’re shaking your head. No, really, click that link and see how bad it can get.

Hence my nervousness when I asked a new, local friend to show me how she does it. I can watch all the videos in the world but, unless someone is doing it step by step in front of me while I write those steps down, I don’t quite absorb it.

Like a good book.

She helped me create the above photo that Chip helped me take.

A lunch escape

My friend taught me photo-editing software has gotten so much better at helping us create HDR that it’s fairly easy.

Sure, tell that to my dog-tired eyes after I spent five hours working on one image yesterday, starting over twice.

spokane bridge autumn

The learning has inspired me to get out more often with my camera, hauling my gear to the office and heading out to beautiful spots nearby.

Guardian of the Columbia

It distracted me from my ultimate mission — an afternoon with Maremma sheepdogs.

I was driving south on a rural road on the Colville Reservation and spied it out of the corner of my eye. Of course, my new friend Kaila warned me about it. She said “there’s a beautiful abandoned church near our homestead.”

Excited by the prospect, I thought I’d have to keep my eyes peeled, but there was no missing it, even though it hid behind several large trees.

It stood there, soaking up the morning August sun. So beautiful and, seemingly, so lonely.

A sentinel standing watch over the Columbia River.

catholic church


Some churches have been maintained in a manner similar to the Roger’s Bar church: the one so lovingly cared for in Retlaw, Alberta, and the now restored churches in Dorothy, Alberta.

This one’s history is honored in the foyer, with some details typed onto letter-sized paper, protected by Saran wrap and pinned to the wall.

catholic church history

Whomever wrote the story revealed this church was built in 1934, dedicated one year later by Bishop White. Charles Owen was the pastor. It replaced the St. Ignatius church built “somewhere around Roger’s Bar” in 1907.

The Colville Tribes website says this church was named the Sacred Heart.

Father Caldi and other priests of St. Francis Regis Mission visited here occasionally on their rounds of the Indian settlements (House Dairy 1906). Caldi estimated the population as about ‘twenty Columbia and Spokane Indians.’

abandoned church colville

Pastor Owens lived in log cabin 100 feet away from the church. Louie Pichette, at one time the oldest living man on the Colville reservation, also lived in a log cabin near the church. Neither building — if they were separate buildings — is no longer there.

The church was used semi-regularly until 1966. Bill Kima assisted on funerals. The last service, according to the history on the wall, was a wedding.

But no one can remember who got married.

Restoring the past

The paper on the wall tells the story of a summer that a group of high school students from Tacoma and kids from Gonzaga Prep joined some local students to clean out 20 years of bird and bat “droppings.”

They were led by Don Eugene, a painter who died in a motorcycle accident just one week after the project began.

It was 1988.

“Birds, bats and bees had been its only congregation” for quite some time.

Over two summers, the students and members of the community built a new porch, installed new windows, stained the outside and inside, and sanded the hardwood floor.

  • Dutch Monaghan stained the windows
  • Lynda Smith worked on the window in front of the steeple
  • Kay Hale restored the last remaining pew
  • Ilene Stansbury worked on the foyer
  • An old carpenter named Andy built four cathedral windows
  • Don Aimebury supplied the glass and installed most of it
  • Violet Trudell donated an old bell to replace the one that was stolen years ago

inchelium church abandoned

They changed the church’s appearance “dramatically” and the church was renamed “Christ of the Columbia.” The community held a dedication ceremony with potluck in October of the unknown year.

No signs of life

It’s a quiet, rural road.

The church is unblemished by graffiti and destruction in the way so many historic buildings on busy roadways fall victim.

It stands perfect, a testament to its original construction and the restoration that took place.

A 2007 blog post by Christy Woolum showed up in a Google search. She visited the church in 2007 and, at the time, learned it was still used twice a year and for special events.

She writes:

When you peak in the windows you can see Christ of the Columbia carved into the altar, but the statues and pews are covered with protective tarps. I loved the rich hue of the elderberries hanging from a branch at the entrance of the church. It is obvious parishioners take great pride in this building. It has been maintained beautifully. It was the location for our picnic lunch as we took a break during out road trip.

The doorknob turns in the hand and, when the door creaks open, there are no signs of life.

No signs of the love that embraced this church in 2007 or the undated restoration.

No signs of weddings or funerals or services where the community comes together.

Are they all lost forever?

On the job

I love this breed.

So damn much.

When Shep came into my life in 2004, I had never heard of a Maremma sheepdog. When my friend who connected us told me the breed name over the phone, I heard “Miramichi dog.” For those not in the know, the Miramichi is a region of northeast New Brunswick and not anywhere you really want to visit.

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A new friend

And one angry, worried husband.

I can’t really say that I blame him.

My adventures have gotten me into trouble. There was the time I blew a tire (hey, where did all the pictures on that post go?) and there was the time I backed into a deep ditch of snow.

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Rebuilding the past

“Hey, did you hear about the brothel?”

“The what?”

“We found what we think might have been a brothel, upstairs from City Hall.”

“That’s pretty cool.”

“Do you want to see it?”

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Rainy day

Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

Cheesy, I know. I catch myself singing it to Bella all the time.

Because she’s gorgeous.

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The Rocklyn rabbit hole

Editor’s Note: The Rux homestead is on private property. The owner, whom you can learn more about in the comments section, has posted No Trespassing signs. Jerry is a great guy and more than willing to cooperate with photographers, provided they seek permission.

I get lost in detail sometimes.

When I got home from a road trip last week, I sat down to research the area I explored and the houses I found.

That’s when I fell down the Rocklyn rabbit hole.

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