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Pioneer history and scenic drives

Washington State: day ten

View Washington State 2017 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Heading north

On SR 821

Breakfast at Essencia

The Guesthouse Inn in Yakima provides a complementary continental breakfast but we decided to pass on this, anticipating weak coffee and unexciting eats, based on past experience of similar establishments. Instead we drove back downtown to Essencia, where we got good coffee and excellent pastries - Chris got his favourite pain au chocolat and I had a great orange and raisin pastry.

We were headed north today and could have used the interstate for the first part of our journey (IS 82) but chose instead to drive the shorter but slower route along SR 821. A great choice - not only was the drive through the Yakima Canyon very scenic, we also spotted some deer drinking in the river at one point (although from some distance, so the photos aren't great).

Road through Yakima Canyon

Can you spot the deer?

There they are!

We stopped briefly once or twice more for photos along this scenic route, before reaching the Wenatchee Valley and turning west for a short distance.



Our aim was to check out Leavenworth and maybe get a coffee there. This is a bizarrely Bavarian themed town with all the trappings of a village in southern Germany - chalet-style buildings, wall paintings, Christmas shops, German street signs and more. It all seemed very corny and we didn't linger long, especially as it was also crowded with visitors and parking for longer than twenty minutes proved a challenge.

In Leavenworth

Retracing our steps, we stopped instead for coffee at a huge farm shop complex, Smallwoods, on the roadside just east of Leavenworth - a good spot for photos too. The Wenatchee Valley lies in the heart of Washington’s fruit-producing area and we passed orchards of cherry, apricot and apple trees all along this road. The produce looked great but the baskets of cherries, though tempting, seemed too large for just two people and we weren’t sure how a request for ‘just a few’ would be received so we decided not to bother.

At Smallwoods' farm shop

We then drove the few miles to the Peshatin Pinnacles State Park where we got to use the Discover Pass we had bought a week earlier in Port Townsend (this allows unlimited access to all state parks in Washington and is good value if you plan to visit more than a couple.

We ate our picnic lunch at a table in the shade of a tree (the temperature was in the mid eighties by now) and then climbed a short way up the path that leads to the rocky outcrops. These sandstone formations are popular with rock-climbers, although we didn’t see any. After our lunch, we walked a little way up the path that winds between them and took a few photos, although the telegraph poles and overhead wires here frustratingly got in the way somewhat. But it was a good spot for a picnic, with trees near the tables to give some shade from the very hot sun, and restroom facilities too.

The Pinnacles

Old Mission

At Old Mission

In nearby Cashmere we visited the Pioneer Village, Old Mission, and attached museum. We were welcomed by an enthusiastic and friendly volunteer who took time to explain the collections to us and how the museum was founded. I later read more about it on the museum’s website and reproduce an extract from it here, as it added even more to my appreciation of this excellent venture:

“In 1955 Willis Carey had a dream, and he had cancer, and it was going to be a race to see which won.

During his lifetime he amassed a personal collection of Native American artifacts, historical relics, antiques and curios that were famous throughout Central Washington. As his cancer progressed, he lamented to friends there was no place to house his treasures after his death. The word spread among the local businessmen and the Chamber of Commerce, led by John McDonald, began exploring the possibilities of building a local public museum for the Carey artifacts.

On a late summer day the committee visited the terminally ill Willis Carey at his home to acquaint him with the proposal. McDonald later reported that “tears of joy streamed down Carey’s face” when he realized his collection might be preserved for the people of Cashmere. He immediately called for paper and pen and on the spot, signed over his entire treasure. He died the next day.

Nearly 30 years after Carey’s dream was realized another addition was opened, the Russell Congdon wing with its collection obtained from archaeological sites on the Mid-Columbia. It has been called the most significant collection in the world. During the same time, a small village of original pioneer cabins was growing below the museum, preserving the rich heritage of the pioneer’s contribution to the valley.”

We first visited Old Mission, a collection of around 20 historic buildings assembled from the surrounding area - log cabins, a general store, small hotel, mission church, school house and more. You can't go inside but can look into each through the doorways to see that all have been furnished with genuine artefacts from their era. Here are some of my favourites, with descriptions taken from the free leaflet we were given along with our $7 tickets.


The General Store was originally built as a home by Archie Smith, in 1846. Inside it is crammed with all the items a pioneer family might need to buy, including linens, foodstuffs, kitchen and farm equipment and more.


The Horan log cabin was built in 1872 by Samuel C. Miller, the first permanent settler in the Wenatchee Valley, on his homestead and in 1898 was the birthplace of Congressman Walt Horan (the Horan family having bought it in 1896). The Horan family provided all these antique furnishings.


The Buckhorn Saloon (on the left) was built as a cabin in 1886 on Badger Mountain, north of Wenatchee (a few miles east of Cashmere, and adapted to serve as Old Mission’s saloon. The Post Office dates from 1872 and was originally a trading post in the city of Wenatchee, operated by the same Samuel C. Miller who built the Horan Cabin, later becoming a post office.


The Mission Hotel was built as a cabin in 1898 but has been fitted out as a typical late 19th century hotel. You can go into the corridor to see several rooms opening off it, including the dining room.


The Weythman Cabin was built in 1891 by Jim Weythman as an addition to his log cabin, to honour his new bride, Elizabeth; unlike most of the structures here it is not built of logs but of boards battened onto a frame.


The Richardson Cabin was built in 1888 with logs cut at Horse Lake above Wenatchee and was home to a large family – the Richardsons had twelve children!


This one room Schoolhouse, dating from the 1880s, was the first in the Cashmere Valley. The volunteer in the museum told us that for the last week of the school year the local fourth graders are taught in this school house, many of them wearing historical costume – what a great idea!


The St. Francis Xavier Mission is the only non-original structure here, being a replica of an 1873 mission church which burned down – this modern copy was built by volunteers of St. Francis Catholic Church

“John McDonald Railroad”

This little stretch of railroad, named for the man who led the plan to build the museum, has a 1922 Great Northern Caboose as well as a number of buildings including a ticket office and various pieces of railroad equipment

In addition to the buildings I have described above there are several other cabins, a jail and sheriff’s office, millinery shop, saddle shop, blacksmith and more, as well as a mine portal and assay office.

We had the village to ourselves (maybe the heat had kept some people away or maybe it’s never busy on a weekday?) and really appreciated the tranquil atmosphere of this pretty setting – apart perhaps from when one of the sprinklers that were watering the grass caught me unawares while taking a photo and I let out a yelp!

We then had a quick look round the museum too, appreciating its coolness (it was a very hot day) and the clear way it was set out. We were most interested in the pictographs displayed and the objects relating to the Native American way of life in this region, but there are also paintings by local artists, artefacts from the pioneer days, archaeological finds (tools, jewellery and household objects), dioramas showing local fauna and other scenes, and much more. You could easily spend an hour here in addition to the time you take to walk round the outdoor buildings. It's all excellent value for the $7 (adult) entry fee.

Pictographs in the museum


By now time was getting on so we didn't stop again before Chelan. Arriving there we checked into our accommodation for the next two days at the Riverwalk Inn. This is a café with rooms attached, in a good central location (and much less costly than the hotels down on the lake just a couple of blocks away). We were allocated the Jasmine room, one of several in a small block behind the café. It wasn't large but was nicely decorated and had a pretty garden in the front with a bench.



Jasmine room and garden

The light switches and electric sockets were all decorated with bits of old maps - a nice touch for travellers.

We had a walk through the town, taking a few photos, and stopped for a cold drink before going down to the water's edge to look at the lake, but we didn't stay out long. The heat was intense so we decided to go back to our room to cool off in its very efficient a/c.

In Chelan
Lake Chelan view from the town

In the evening we had dinner at the nearby Local Myth Pizza. This is a casual place with seating outside as well as in. We had to wait 30 minutes for a table which, once we got it, was inside near the back. We found the restaurant rather too noisy for conversation and the smoke from the pizza cooking hung in the air, making my eyes smart. But the pizzas were delicious and made up for any shortcomings in the atmosphere of the restaurant. The prices were reasonable too - for two small but more than adequate (eight inch) pizzas and four large beers we paid a little over $60.

Local Myth Pizza

Posted by ToonSarah 05:41 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes buildings history views hotel museum washington_state

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I remember reading someone's tips on Leavenworth back in VT days.
Much better known in the US is Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which is the site of a large military prison.

by Nemorino

Great report!


Thanks for your visits, Don and Adam :)

by ToonSarah

The vision of you 'yelping' brought a smile to my face!

by Wabat

How did you find all this fun stuff? You must have done a lot of research. We are definitely going to benefit from all your work. Thank you so much for posting all of this.

by Beausoleil

Thanks both :)

Albert, I actually liked the cold water on me, as it was such a hot day, but I was concerned about my camera. Once I knew that was fine I was happy :)

Sally, I planned the route in part using Roadtrippers (https://roadtrippers.com/) which helped me work out a sensible mileage for each day. It also has some fun stuff to do. Then I just Googled the main places we would be going through as well as of course checking out the obvious ones like the national parks. I love doing the research for a road trip :)

by ToonSarah

it is nice to see a bit of the history of the region while on a road trip. I like that as well ... never thought however that Germans went all that way ... I am already thinking of Wursts mit Sen! :) :) :)

by Ils1976

It seems my computer doesn't always work that fast ... by now you probably figured out it was Senf (mustard)! :)

by Ils1976

Yes, Senf - I understood ;) But really Leavenworth wasn't to my taste - too crowded, and as a European I didn't find the architecture much of a novelty, just odd in that location!

by ToonSarah

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