Eastern Washington Ghost Towns – Wilbur,WA

ALL photos copyright Jefferson L. Morriss 2009-2010

One might say that when you’ve seen one small town you’ve seen them all but I don’t think that is or should be the case. While similarities may resound, I have found that each place has or had it’s own personality. And while Wilbur isn’t technically a Ghost Town it was on my route and well, I included it.

The first thing I noticed rolling into Wilbur coming west on US-2 was the “Billy Burgers” sign.  A chubby face topped with what looks like a beret and batting eyelashes draws your attention away for a second if only for its silliness. Whether the burgers are any good or not, only billy knows.

I parked my car and set off on foot.  I hit up a local thrift store and was greeted by a kind old lady with an interesting question.  “Do these look like men’s pants?”  Sorting through an assortment of jeans she wasn’t quite sure with the different styles “these days”.  Frankly I wasn’t either, especially with the pair she showed me. I browsed for a minute and then bid my farewell.

Walking around the streets of a small town(pop. 914, 2000 census)with two cameras around your neck tends to get you noticed.  A few kids raking leaves were undoubtedly fascinated with me for some reason. As I walked by on the opposite side of the street they couldn’t help but stare. Small churches were planted here and there giving their faithful members a choice between denominations.  The city hall had the two-fold purpose of serving it’s citizens and hosting a library.

Growing up in a few small towns in the midwest I can appreciate the pros and cons of the small town atmosphere.  You get to know people quickly and easily, for what other choice do you have when you see them everyday.

I remember getting up early with my grandfather in Staples,MN and going across the street to have breakfast at Hardees(similar to Arby’s). Afterwards we might walk over to the automotive shop where gramps would chat with the salesman and mechanics.  Walking down the sidewalk a “Hey Joe, how goes it?” was not an uncommon thing to hear.  On the con side, if you are adventure minded individual like myself, entertainment in a small town was few and far between to find.   Going to Paul Bunyan land in Brainerd might be the thrill of the day or catching a local sports game was not uncommon.

Paul Bunyan(brainerd.com)

I appreciate where I have come from. The people, places and events have no doubt shapped me into what I am today as I’m sure all the kids in these small towns will experience as well someday.


4 Responses to “Eastern Washington Ghost Towns – Wilbur,WA”

  1. ka Says:

    I live in Wilbur myself. Yea it may seem like a small, quiet, lonely town, but if you have lived here long enough, you’d thing it’s NOTHING, like a ghost town.

    And if you also lived here long enough, you shouldn’t be too surprised that everyone is friendly here, and usually has a good rep. If you know what I mean.

    Kids here also don’t get themselves into people who come from the ‘city’ at first. Of course, if you do have a camera around your neck, I’d be staring too.

    There is quite a bit of history here from what I know. I wasn’t born here, but was raised here for most of my life. It’s a very nice little town indeed.

  2. Wayne Reid Says:

    Here’s a story for you, when the post office was decomissioned in Govan, our family which was farming 10 miles northwest of Wilbur instantly became under an Almira mailing address, my parents were “Wilbur” people, so they got a post office box in Wilbur so we could retain a Wilbur mailing address. Box 154 I believe, and our phone number was Mission 7 5603, we were on a party line, that was interesting. As a kid living near Wilbur, (wow, has it been 45 years ago already?) almost all the towns were small (although much larger than they are today) but then that was the norm, big towns were much smaller, small towns were much larger, for a kid Wilbur was an exciting place to be, because there were many more people there and some of the people were people you could never forget. Walmart, and Amazon have changed America forever and most small towns are destined to be ghost towns. Farming has evolved into mega farms which will probably eventually be corporate write offs, for mega corporations, small farmers were talking about this even 45 years ago, the face of America has changed completely forever and with it the delegation of many, small ghost towns with history going back to the turn of the century that no one even cares about, sad thing.

    • Visuals & Literals Says:

      Thank you Wayne, I had a fun time doing this series a few years back. I have since had a few people comment on their own personal family stories and it has been great hearing those. Thanks for your sharing! I no longer maintain this blog but if you’re interested in keeping up with me I have a new one at http://spesvidere.wordpress.com

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