Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Waitsburg Wa. is one of the neatest little towns I have seen so far, and it what bicycle touring is all about (at least for me). It looks to be about the same size as Versailles, Oh with 4 blocks of Main street containing most of the businesses. There was no traffic so I had the street to myself and moseyed down it. At one end of the business section I came across 2 of these giant (10') rusty metal balls . This one was sitting on the street near the curb in front of the Whoop em Up Cafe ,and blocked from rolling down hill by 3 rocks. You see all sorts of old stuff displayed along the road and mostly you can figure out what it had once been used for,maybe some local industry machine part or irrigation device etc, but this one I could not figure out.

Across the street from the Whoop em Up was the town Mall and there was another rusty ball sitting in the alley next to it, again blocked by 3 rocks. I walked into the Mall and asked a guy what the deal was with the iron balls and what they had been used for.
He just laughed and said they were just street decorations and had no other purpose. They were made in Seattle and had only been in town for a week.

This is a pic of downtown Waitsburg and although it is a very quiet little town there is a lot happening here. Besides the 2 rusty iron balls down the street, check out the working town clock, the decorated water tower in the distance . Also, the hill in the background is a big wheat field and example of contour farming. To me this was a beautiful scene.

The guy on the bike is Bill Thompson a local legend on the first bike he ever owned. Bought at a garage sale in 1996 for $10 , before that bhe rode a horse around town. More on Bill in next pic.

I hit the jackpot when Bill happened by as I was sitting on the steps of the local library just taking in all the non activity in town. Bill was on the town coucil for 10 years and a font of information. I learned that Waitsburg is not only the oldest town in the original Oregon Territory it is the only remaining town in the original Oregon Territory that still governs itself by the exact same set of rules covered by the Territorial Charter signed by Abraham Lincoln. The town can collect its own taxes and govern itself a bit differently that all the other towns who now use state laws and standards.
Bill is a former rancher/farmer("born in a log cabin out in the county a piece") and told me this area has the best farming dirt in America . It is real wheat country and it is not unusual to have a 100 bushel per acre yield. The conditio9ns must be perfect because there is enough rainfall so irrigation is not needed. Actually Bill says there has never been a crop failure due to drought or hail storms. Other things have messed up a crop like the blight in 1953 or sometimes it will be too wet at harvest time to get crop in. The next county over is Whitman County and they have the highest wheat yield per acre in America.
The pic is Bill in front of the library and just before I took it he held up his hand with the index and little finger extended and the other 2 fingers folded under. When I asked what that was all about he said "that is how the local butcher orders 4 beers when he goes into a bar". Bill then said he had to be going because he had told me everything he knows.
As he was riding away a pickup truck stopped on the street and the driver yelled "Don't believe a word that guy (Bill) says", and Bill tells me "That guy don't like me".
A couple of seconds later another guy walks by and I asked him if he knew Bill Thompson and he said "yes". When I asked how old Bill is the guy said , "well see that big pile of dirt over there?, well Bill is a lot older than that".
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1 comment:

  1. Love this! These are the stories you'll remember from your trip.