HISTORIC SITES AND MARKERS PROJECT
The goal of the Walla Walla 2020 Historic Sites & Markers Project is to honor unmarked Walla Walla area history sites, many of which are unknown to the public, by erecting interpretive signage, and by providing additional details about their significance through printed materials, public presentations and web pages.
Several sites have already been marked by Walla Walla 2020, and plans are underway for additional sites, dependent on available funding.
Walla Walla County Poor Farm
The Walla Walla County Poor Farm was established in 1891, and at one point included 200 acres extending from the present 12th Street in College Place south to Taumarson Road, and from just east of Myra Road to College Avenue. The farm was owned and run by Walla Walla County as a place where indigent residents could live and work.
Poor Farm residents lived in the large house at the corner of what is now SE Scenic View and Robin Drive. There were various outbuildings on the grounds, including a separate hospital and a tuberculosis sanitarium. Many of the residents of the farm were ultimately buried in the Poor Farm cemetery at the corner of Mockingbird and Sandpiper in College Place. You will find Walla Walla 2020 interpretive signage regarding the Poor Farm and the Poor Farm cemetery at both sites.
The Village of Halfway & the Town of Walla Walla
In the fall of 1858 Harry Howard together with a Mr. Parkeson built a log saloon in the vicinity of what is now 12th and Poplar in Walla Walla, halfway between the new Fort Walla Walla on the hill to the west, and the old Fort Walla Walla where Mill Creek crosses the Nez Perce Trail at First and Main.
This saloon became known as the Halfway House. Others soon built around it thinking that a town would be founded there. These entrepreneurs laid off a plaza for the village of Halfway and built facing it.
In a competition that developed between the village of Halfway and the merchants who had built near the old cantonment on Mill Creek, in the end everyone realized that packers were bound to go to Mill Creek to camp and while there regularly traded at the nearest store or saloon.
As a result, those on the creek had the advantage, and the merchants at Halfway moved their establishments to Mill Creek, where the town of Walla Walla was founded in November 1859. Walla Walla 2020 has erected an interpretive sign telling the story of the competing villages at the corner of 12th & Poplar on the grounds of Walla Walla’s main fire station.
William Davies Community and the Walla Walla Jesus
William Davies was the leader of a Latter Day Saint schismatic group called the Kingdom of Heaven that overlooked the Mill Creek canyon and the Walla Walla Valley from 1867 to 1881. Davies and forty of his followers moved here in 1866, establishing a communal society that grew to 400 acres near the top of Scenic Loop Road at its intersection with what is now known as Mormon Grade, where Walla Walla 2020 has erected an interpretive sign.
Davies taught his followers that he was the archangel Michael, who had previously lived lives as the biblical Adam, Abraham, and David. When his son Arthur was born on February 11, 1868, Davies declared that the infant was the reincarnated Jesus Christ, and the child came to be called “the Walla Walla Jesus.”
When Davies’ son David was born in 1869, he declared him to be God the Father, and it is said that he also declared himself to be the Holy Spirit, completing the Trinity. The Kingdom of Heaven began to collapse in 1879 when Davies’ wife Sarah died of diphtheria, and in 1880, when both Arthur and David died of the same disease.
The McCool Catholic Cemetery
Because of overcrowding at Walla Walla’s first Catholic cemetery, a plot of land known as the McCool Cemetery was acquired from Robert McCool in 1869 along what is now Village Way in the southern part of the city.
After overcrowding there as well, in October 1891 a new Catholic Cemetery was established adjacent to the Mountain View Cemetery on South Second Ave.
On October 31, 1969, on the assumption that all burials at McCool had been removed to the new cemetery, the Catholic Bishop sold the McCool Cemetery ground to developers. Official records, however, list fewer than half of the several hundred Catholic burials at McCool as reinterred at Mt. View.
In the 1970’s, during construction of Village Way, human remains were encountered in the street and on adjoining residential lots. Archaeological excavations have now documented the presence of additional burials both inside and outside the boundaries of the deeded cemetery.
Walla Walla 2020 has erected an interpretive sign on Village Way adjacent to this previously unmarked cemetery, listing many of those buried there who are not shown to have been moved to another cemetery. Burial records from 1872-1883 were not available and have not been not included.
Wallula History Site
There has long been recognition of the need to create an interpretive site to honor the Wallula area’s multi-faceted history. In addition to the story of its formation by the 15,000-18,000 year old Missoula Floods, this area at the confluence of major rivers was the location of a traditional village and gathering site for Native Americans, a significant encounter between the Lewis & Clark expedition and area Indian people, the site of Fort Nez Perce established in 1818 as the first trading post in the inland region, a gold-rush era steamship port, the terminus of the northwest's first rail line, and the town of Wallula as well as the McNary Dam inundation.
Walla Walla 2020 has recently obtained permission from the Washington State Department of Transportation to construct an interpretive shelter at the eastern entrance to the Wallula Gap. This site is the closest point to many of the historical events that took place in the 1800’s at the mouth of the Walla Walla River, which is now underwater.
The Wallula History Site is a major project we believe will significantly increase our region’s pride of place and cultural understanding, for which we are seeking donations.
Mullan Road Historic Site
In March, 1858, US Army Lt. John Mullan was given the task of building a wagon road from the steamship docks at old Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River across the Rocky Mountains to the steamship docks at Fort Benton on the Missouri River, by way of the new fort at the town of Walla Walla.
Plans are currently underway for the development of a Mullan Road Historic Site at the corner of the original Fort Walla Walla military reservation on 13th Avenue at Abadie Street in Walla Walla. If you are interested in helping with the development of this site, please contact Daniel Clark, Walla Walla 2020, firstname.lastname@example.org, 509-522-0399.
Along with the other signage listed, Walla Walla 2020 has marked or plans to mark a variety of additional sites, including the Edgewater Park Dance Pavilion on Mill Creek in downtown Walla Walla, the Flathers Halfway House on the Mullan Road near Prescott, the site of Baker School on Sumach, the grounds of the 1855 Walla Walla Treaty Council in the downtown and the Second Walla Walla Treaty Council & Stevens Skirmish on Mill Creek, along with Walla Walla’s Chinatown and Germantown. Information on these sites is available online at www.ww2020.net/historic-sites.