Archive for the ‘Ghost Towns’ Category

Eastern Washington Ghost Towns – Govan

July 22, 2011

All Images Copyright 2009 Jefferson L. Morriss/Photos for the People

Well after a two year delay due to some odd reason, life I think, I am posting the last of the E-WA Ghost Town series of 2009.  This small little town has an amazing old school house built around the turn of the 20th century.  I just love the architecture to this place, it’s so different from typical little school houses of the time. Enjoy.

Jefferson L. Morriss

Click. Gets bigger.


Eastern Washington Ghost Towns – Wilbur,WA

January 1, 2010

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(

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.

Eastern Washington Ghost Towns Part 3 – Sherman,WA

December 22, 2009

An unnamed church in Sherman

ALL Photos Copyright 2009 Jefferson L. Morriss

A few miles off the main road(US2), a small dirt road runs through farm land that slopes inward like a natural gully and leads you to what used to be Sherman,WA. I Immediately took notice of the ever-transcendent white country church perched on higher ground. With its steeple pointing upwards towards the heavens like a hand raised in praise, I approach the church for inspection.  No visible signs anywhere indicate a denomination but I ventured to guess it’s either a Presbyterian or Lutheran place from the architecture.  I imagined pristinely dressed women in white dresses and men in their Sunday best attending services to hear the good word with a little fire and brimstone mixed in for good measure.  From the amazing condition of the building it must still be a source of pride for the small community that lives there.

Behind the church lies a  small unpretentious cemetery with a view of rolling hills of  farmland that stretch as far as the eye can see.  I imagine that buried within its hallowed ground are simple people. People that lived and died working the land around it. Generations of families buried next to each other. People who may have never even left their native state of Washington or may have and had grand adventures. I found one such grave of a Civil War vet and did a little digging.

Private Thomas Hardenbrook joined the Union in the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He fought at such battles as Bentonville and the famous siege of Vicksburg according to online records. His great grandson Jim Hardenbrook found this post and gave me some more info on his great grand dad(how neat!):

“Thomas Hardenbrook originally was in the 45th Regiment and then he transferred to the 50th Regiment Colored Infantry Co. C. He began as a Private in the 45th and he was an Officer in the 50th Regiment and he left the Army as a 1st Lieutenant with a pension of 9.00 a month from the Government. After the Civil War he lived in Kansas. In 1880 he moved to Le Grande, Oregon. He put in an application for a homestead and then in 1889 he moved to Washington Territory and established a homestead north of Hartline, Washington. In 1889 there was a severe blizzard and the snow measured 6 feet plus. Many of the settlers lost much of their stock. They family lived on potatoes and salt until the train got through to Coulee City with supplies. He was wounded in the war and it never properly healed. His immune system was very low due to this wound and he died from Pneomonia in the Spring of 1890.”

As I drove further down the road the muted sound of my muffler subsides with the incoherent, yet audible sounds of conversation and farm machinery as I passed by various homesteads. Rickety old barns and derelict buildings lay in waste and wait as the years slowly claim their old two by fours.

Where the Farmland meets the Mountains

The Road

People in the city may put these people down for living such a “simple” life  but who really thinks that the city people are that much better off? Here you have the peace and quiet, the sereneness of the country and its pure air. In the city you have the noise, the neighbors the next condo over, and the pollution. The city may have more to see but if you can’t see the forest for the trees what does it matter?

After searching a bit for a school I heard was around(but couldn’t find) I left for the next town leaving behind a simple place with simple people and that was alright.

Eastern Washington Ghost Towns, Part 2 – Farmer,WA

December 17, 2009

One of the most anticipated and farthest away towns on my trip turned out to be a disappointment.   Forty-five miles from Almira I had high hopes for place based on pictures I had seen online but was soon unable to find the majority of those photos.   I plugged Farmer,WA into my GPS to make sure that was on the right track and sure enough it said I was here. I looked around and around and sure enough there’s  a building that says Farmer but where is the rest?

When in doubt just wing it, right?  I turned down a dusty road and found a quaint cemetery with a beautiful view perched on a small hill.   After hanging out with the afterlife a bit I ventured further down the road and found a deserted homestead in a freshly tilled field.

*UPDATE*3/2/13 This homestead is not located in Farmer as I have been informed. If you venture to this area please respect the property owner’s land.

Afterwards I headed back down the dusty road and found yet another abandoned homestead.  I sat there for a moment visualizing a once vibrant and lively home. Laundry blowing in the wind, kids playing outside and pops working the field.  Whether it is impractical to live there now or the draw of the big city has driven them away to a more “modern” lifestyle I know not.

So where was all this stuff I had seen online and hoped to photograph? I emailed the photographer ex post facto and they had scarce directions at best but assured me I was in the area and didn’t get lost. I just simply never found it. Perhaps on my next trip over I will find it, if it wants to be found that is.

A lonely cross stands near Highway 2 dedicated by a Christian biker group.

Eastern Washington Ghost Towns Part 1 – Almira,WA

December 9, 2009

Post Office – Almira,WA

ALL Photos Copyright 2009 Jefferson L. Morriss

Silence, eerie but tranquil.  When you roll into this town, population 302(2000 census), you know that you are far from the reaches of city life.  Skyscrapers of glass and steel are replaced with towers of concrete and concrete as two large grain elevators watch over the city.  Remnants of a main street from yesteryears is pretty much the first thing you see as you drive in. Brick buildings with a touch of the semi-ornate on what looked to be an old hotel, line the main drag along with a former gas station complete with an old pump still standing.  Antique collectibles along with a very chipper old carousel horse stand by in a dust laden window as you pass through time in this old town.

As I walk my steps echo back as the nearly the only sound around.  A few people drive by no doubt wondering who I am and what I’m doing in their town.  Children walk down the center-line of a road laughing and playing with a couple of dogs passing the time on a lazy friday afternoon.  After absorbing the silence and treating it kindly, I left it behind for the next town on the list.