July 2022 – One of our favorite aspects of traveling by RV is bumping into special places by accident, and we knew we’d found such a treasure when we rolled into Pomeroy, Washington.
It was early on a Sunday morning, and the whole town was at rest and quiet. When we pulled over to park our toy hauler on the side of Main Street (US-12), ours was the only vehicle in town!
We were on a mission to get through the vast wheat farms that lay ahead of us on our way to celebrate the 4th of July in Othello, Washington, and a stunning black storm cloud looming on the horizon in front of us promised cooler temperatures as we traveled through that hot, dry expanse.
We couldn’t resist taking a stroll through this picturesque town before we continued on our way.
Before we arrived in town we’d spotted two enormous 1950s-60s era statues of a cowboy in a tie-die shirt and a blonde in a bright red bikini along with a collection of antique signs surrouding the Dutch Boys Paint building.
What the heck?
We zipped by too fast to get a pic, but we kept a much sharper eye out for unusual sightings after that.
The ornate Garfield County Courthouse appeared on our right as we arrived in town, and it was too beautiful to pass without grabbing a pic. That’s what motivated us to pull over and walk the town.
it’s crazy how some towns are all dressed up and warmly invite visitors to stop by while others aren’t nearly as appealing. Even though there wasn’t a soul in town at this hour on a Sunday, the funky artsy flare of Pomeroy made us feel like a red carpet was being rolled out for us.
The Pioneer Plaza honors the history of Pomeroy and the Lewis and Clark expedition that traveled through the area with informative plaques and statues.
On the night of May 3rd, 1806, the Lewis & Clark expedition camped in a grove of cottonwood trees 100 yards south of the where the Pioneer Plaza stands today, and according to a plaque, they ate “scant rations of dried meat and dog” that night.
Looking back from where we are now, 116 years into the future, it is so easy to romanticize those early explorations. But it must have been both grueling and exhausting. That poor dog!
Another large plaque honors Pomeroy area soldiers who lost their lives in wars. Most war memorials we’ve seen in our travels go back only as far as WWI, but this plaque honors soldiers who died in the Spanish American War that took place in the Phillipines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico in the spring and summer of 1898.
Back out on Main Street, the architecture was delightful. Even the Senior Center is located in a fabulous building!
All the buildings were closed, but as we returned to the rig, we noticed the door to the store right next to our truck was now open. So in we went!
We found ourselves inside the Blue Mountain Artisan Guild, and the curator, Nancy, welcomed us warmly even though the shop wasn’t officially open.
What a super cool place this was. All the artwork on display was created by local artists and there was a wide variety of beautiful pieces.
I started chatting with Nancy, and she filled me in on what Pomeroy is like when it isn’t a stormy Sunday morning with no one around. Ordinarily, the sidewalks are full of people and the shops are busy!
She had moved to Pomeroy from Seattle and was loving small town life. There’s a vibrant artsy streak that runs through Pomeroy and she was lucky enough to be in the center of it.
She told me the statues of the tie-die cowboy and the red bikini clad blonde that we’d seen on the way into town were part of a collection owned by resident Dave Webb who has a passion for odd antiques like that.
He has also found dozens of original neon signs in his travels. He gets them working again electrically and hangs them on the buildings all around town.
Sure enough, we found quite a few!
Nancy also told us a bit about Meyer’s Hardware Store, an old fashioned hardware store that has been in the family for generations. Along with hardware items, they sell ice cream and espresso coffee at their Bean Counter.
It was right around that moment, as she described Meyer’s, that I realized we just have to come back to Pomeroy to see the town in full swing and spend some time exploring.
I asked her when the best time was to visit, and she suggested the Tumbleweed Festival which takes place in June and is kicked off with the Pioneer Day parade down Main Street. We’d just missed it, but it sounded like it’s a blast with a Wine & Stein event, an art show and a running race.
We wandered back out onto the sidewalk, and along with nostalgic neon signs we found a display of three antique gas pumps.
And around one corner — underneath another noen Greyhound Bus Station sign — we spotted an antique city bus.
On the back was a license plate that seemed to indicate it was Public Bus #24 and that it had been active on the city streets in 1951.
The door was open, so we went up the stairs and poked our heads inside.
Gosh, what a rush of memories I had of riding similar city buses as a kid. The ones I was on weren’t quite that old, but not much about them had changed by the time I started riding city buses in the late 1960s!
Nancy had mentioned that one of the special spots in Pomeroy is the historic Pataha flour mill at the east end of town. Serving as both a museum and a church, visitors can see the old mill equipment and/or take in a community church service too. They also serve meals on a donation basis, and apparently the food is out of this world.
Gosh, now we were really wishing we had time to stay. And looking back now a few months later, I think we probably should have.
But the insane heat was driving us onward, and scooting across the hot plains following the cool, damp breezes of a storm was very appealing. So, we took notes and stored them away for a future visit!
In the meantime, we found ourselves standing next to the Stage Door at the Seeley Opera House. How cool was that?!
The brick opera house was built in 1913 and replaced an older wooden opera house that had been built in the late 1800s. The new opera house saw many decades of use for vaudeville shows, plays, community events and even movies, like “Gone With the Wind” when it came out in 1940. It is now undergoing renovations with plans to reopen soon.
At the Artisan Guild, Nancy had told us that there is an artist in town who loves to paint the historic town buildings and the beautiful homes that dot the area. The owners of these old homes love to buy his paintings of their houses.
Even better, he puts together a calendar every year that features twelve of these pretty homes. The calendars sell out in no time as residents and former residents who now live far from Pomeroy snatch them up to reminisce about the beauty of their hometown.
Back on Main Street we came across a farm store with some small tractors on display. This is farming country, after all!
A nearby sign expressed a wonderful sentiment about farmers.
As we made our way back to the rig and got ready for the next leg of our trip, our heads were spinning with images and stories from our brief encounter with the town of Pomeroy and its wonderful impromtu ambassador, Nancy.
We will definitely be back someday to check out the Pataha Four Mill, revisit the Blue Mountain Artisan Guild and discover some of the other gems in and around town. Nearby Palouse Falls State Park was highly recommended to us by another traveler we met a few days later. Such a rich area…Next time!!
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More info about Pomeroy, Washington:
Other blog posts from Washington:
- Entiat, Washington – An RV Friendly Town That’s On the Move! 07/28/22
- Chelan, Washington – Summertime Fun and Great Music! 07/21/22
- Stehekin Ferry – Cruise to a Hidden Gem in the North Cascades! 07/11/22
- An Exuberant 4th of July in Othello, Washington! 07/04/22
- North Cascades, WA – From the coast to the peaks 08/29/07
- Northern Washinton – Magical Mountains & Trees in Sleeves 08/21/07
- Southern Washington – Falling Logs 07/31/07
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