Monday, October 31, 2022

The G.W. Emerson Mill At Wilbur

Guest post by Ted Curphey.

I was just looking at some 1957 aerial imagery and made a couple discoveries along the NP Central Washington branchline. The biggest surprise was that the football field at the east end of Wilbur, WA was actually a sawmill, and had it's own rail spur off the CW up the hill from the east grain elevator and the oil dealer.

Researching the history of the G.W. Emerson Lumber Co of Wilbur, WA. The company started in Deer Park but made a series of moves that put it at the mouth of the Spokane River in Peach, WA. It was cutting logs floated down the Columbia River and then the lumber was trucked to finishing mills in Spokane. By 1930 they had mills at both Peach and Creston that burned that year, only the Peach Mill was rebuilt.

When the Grand Coulee Dam was completed and Lake Roosevelt was going to flood the town of Peach, the mill was moved to Wilbur, WA in 1940. Logs were being trucked from Lake Roosevelt which were floated there from various log dumps. Later log trucks used the Keller Ferry.

Drying kilns were added in 1955 to increase production, which was running around 3 railcars a week heading to the Dakotas and Minnesota. The mill burned in 1960 in a spectacular fire, but was rebuilt the following year despite a poor market. The market did not improve and the mill closed in 1966, and sold at a foreclosure auction in 1970. The mill burned for a final time shortly after the auction.

This spot in Wilbur today is known as Emerson Park.

Articles from the Spokane Newspapers.

Sept 30th, 1938.

Jan 17th, 1940

May 21st, 1940

Mar 24th, 1943

Feb 4th, 1944

Mar 10th, 1947

Aug 27th, 1947

Feb 5th, 1955

June 25th, 1960

June 29th, 1960

July 16th, 1960

Oct 14th, 1960

Apr 7th, 1961

Aug 18th, 1961

July 31st, 1963

Nov 26th, 1966

Feb 23rd, 1970

Aug 14th, 1970

Oct 26th, 1971

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Wilson Creek Panoramic View

Courtesy of the Wilson Creek Museum.

The 1913 date on the far right of the image is wrong, as the roundhouse is gone by the time the image was taken, which happened by the early to mid 1920s.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Wilson Creek Panoramic View

Courtesy of the Wilson Creek Museum.

No date known, but the roundhouse is still standing on the far left, so probably no later than the early 1920s. Note the 4 wheel bobber caboose near the right side of the image.

Edit: Carl Johnson kindly sent a stitched together and cleaned up image. I am grateful for the effort. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Western Cold Storage Co/Cascadian Fruit Shippers Building

Circa 1920s.

There are plans to convert the building to apartments.
If the above link ever breaks, here are the images and text seen there:


Location:  Wenatchee, Washington

Type:  In Progress, Commercial

The Cascadian Fruit building, located in Wenatchee, Washington, dates from the late 1920’s and was once one of the largest and most advanced fruit storage facilities in the west. It was among the first of its kind to be outfitted with refrigeration equipment and at the time was exclusively used for storing apples. The structure has an approximate foot print of 45,360 sf and currently has 3 floors, though it originally had 4. The original second floor, with portions remaining, was removed for the most part to accommodate greater stacking of goods. The warehouse is located along an active rail line and is just a couple of hundred feet from the banks of the Columbia River. 

Cascadian Fruit is one of many of its kind in Eastern Washington cities that are being left behind as the fruit shipping and packing industry is moving from central locations in these cities to the periphery. Fruit shipping is no longer dependent on rail and larger and more advanced facilities belong in less urban places. The design is an exploration into the feasibility of adapting the building into multifamily housing and or a mixed use housing/retail development.

The exterior walls of the warehouse are made of reinforced, cast-in-place concrete, which makes the building particularly well suited to reuse, as it is not an unreinforced brick structure, so minimal structural upgrades would be required. The airy ceiling heights present the possibility of mezzanines or lofts with modifications to the primary north/south beam system to allow proper clearances.

A large atrium set in the center of the building serves as a focal point of both public and private program, as well as brings in ample natural light. The atrium is surrounded by three stories of loft apartments and a single-story penthouse addition on the roof. Its height and brightness would instill the same kind of elation one feels upon entering a Gothic cathedral.

Existing features of the building and its surroundings could potentially be utilized as exciting design features. The building’s circa-1930 refrigeration equipment could be showcased in the atrium and other common areas to tell the story of the building’s rich history. A pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks would connect the project to the town and transit center, augmenting the immediate railway underpass. The city is currently imagining the street where the bridge would terminate, as a “pathway to the waterfront.”  

Images:  Graham Baba Architects