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Washington’s Rural Farms, Prairies, Mills and Waterfalls
Remember Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare? A hare in a race with a tortoise that got so far ahead he became over confident and stopped for a nap. While he was sleeping, the tortoise plodded past and won the race.
Today, our lifestyles push us so fast we feel like the hare, and our ancestors feel like the tortoise. But there’s a link between throttling down and living a richer life. A trip through Washington’s rural Clark County will reacquaint you with the past and a sensible pace of living.
Looking back doesn’t mean giving up modern conveniences. Start your day at Starbucks on NW 12th Avenue in Battle Ground. From I-5 N or I 205 N pick up WA-502 in Battle Ground. The Starbucks off West Main/WA-502 is close to the intersection with WA-503 that you’ll need when you travel north.
Select a breakfast pastry from Starbucks’ classic coffee cakes, scones, and fruit breads-their marionberry muffin is sweet and tart-or try a yogurt parfait with fruit or honey. At the espresso bar, order a cappuccino, caramel macchiato, or a skinny vanilla latte with nonfat milk. On this trip you’ll be in remote areas most of the day and responsible for your own snacks and meals. If you didn’t pack a lunch, pick up a turkey club sandwich and some organic fruit juice for later.
Pomeroy Living History Farm
Your first stop is in Yacolt at E.C. Pomeroy’s Living History Farm that recreates Pacific Northwestern rural life before the electrical era. From Battle Ground head north on WA 503, and turn right at the sign for Pomeroy Farm/Moulton Falls. Follow this road and watch for the farm driveway with its small sign on your left. The farm’s five-bedroom log house is the highlight for many visitors. Rebuilt in 1920 after two fires, it incorporates the hearth and fireplace from the original dwellings.
The log house and its outbuildings, the carriage house, blacksmith shop, chicken coop, pig sty, granary (a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed), and thresher shed (a building that was used to store the threshing machine that separated grain from the husks of the plant and store extra hay for the cattle) show the farm family was a tight working unit.
Independence and self sufficiency marked its slower lifestyle. Most necessities were produced here: hay, field corn, pork, ham, bacon, sausage, lard, milk, cream, eggs, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, horse shoes, agricultural tools, and spare machine parts. The garden provided, in addition to herbs and spices, a cornucopia of foods: beans, corn, carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, and squash.
The children who lived here occupied comfortable bedrooms and had plenty of toys-some handmade. Before electricity, the house was lit by kerosene lamps like the one you’ll see in the parlor. The wooden floors and hand-planed moldings were carefully made and took real craftsmanship. The braided rug on display in the parlor is a labor of love at over 15 feet wide.
Part of the fun at Pomeroy is seeing period-dressed volunteers do farm work. You can join in if you choose. The work is time-consuming but also very creative, such as grinding corn, dipping candles, and making rope or corn husk dolls. Experience a rural rapport with the animals by feeding the goats Lewis and Clark and admiring Curly the sheep whose wool becomes yarn for spinning demonstrations. Pigs named Ham and Bacon XVI should be watched and not touched, as they are a bit nippy. The farm also offers steam logging and quilting demonstrations, as well as hayrides in the fall.
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad
Next, leave freeway frenzy behind with a ride on the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad’s BYCX logging train built in 1930. Turn left out of the Pomeroy driveway and follow the road until it becomes NE Railroad Avenue in Yacolt. Leave your car in the lot across from the station, grab your lunch and camera, and pick up your ticket inside. The two hour trip starts at noon and you must reserve tickets on the railroad’s website.
You won’t soon forget your ride through logging county and the 30-minute stop at Moulton Falls, where you can cool your toes when summer temperatures rise. With a ticket you can ride in any of the cars, but the caboose is the best place for views and photos. On the outbound trip the caboose leads at a safe 10 miles an hour-not the engine-because there’s no place for the train to turn around.
Find the brakeman, wave your camera, and ask if you can stand on the caboose’s rear deck. You’ll be moving slowly enough to get great pictures of a beaver dam, the Lewis River, and especially the tunnel the train passes through.
On the return sit in the open car with tables and enjoy your lunch. There’s something mesmerizing about trains, and kids love this trip. Watching parents take time for their kids is part of the fun, too.
Cedar Creek Grist Mill
Just as food cooked slowly tastes better, so do breads baked from scratch with fresh grains. For flour that doesn’t get any fresher, stop at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill east of Woodland. Turn right out of the railroad parking lot and right again at N Amboy Avenue to pick up Cedar Creek Road. When you turn right at the mill’s sign, you’ll pass through a lovely covered bridge.
The mill, built in 1876, has a 16 horsepower Lefel turbine developed in Europe in the 1840s. Entirely water powered, it uses 600 cubic feet of water per minute at full power, and turns at 300 revolutions per minute. The mill’s buhr or grinding stones came from northern France.
As you watch, the mill will grind corn, hard red winter or "Durham" wheat for breads, and soft white spring wheat for cakes. The process is faster than hand-grinding coffee beans but slower than running those beans through an electric grinder. The difference of course is in the quality you get after grinding. You’ll be glad if you don’t rush your visit to the mill. Everyone leaves with free samples of flour that contain the wheat’s whole germ. And the whole germ like a whole life deliberately lived is the best gift of all.
What and Where:
Starbucks Battleground (11 N.W. 12th Avenue, Battle Ground; 360/666-2874)
Pomeroy Living History Farm (20902 NE Lucia Falls Road, Yacolt; 360 686 3537; www.pomeroyfarm.org/index.html)
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad (207 N Railroad Avenue, Yacolt; 360-686-3559; www.bycx.com/)
Cedar Creek Grist Mill on Grist Mill Road (PO Box 1404, Woodland; 360-225-5832)
• Pack a lunch to eat on the train.
• Bring power bars, trail mix, healthy snacks if traveling with children.
• Bring jacket and hat for the train ride.
• Don’t forget your camera.
Directions from Portland to Battle Ground on I-5 N (about 38 min)
Take I-5 N into Washington toward Seattle.
Take Exit 9 for NE 179th/WA-502 toward Battle Ground.
Watch for a sign for Battle Ground and merge onto NE 10th Avenue/WA-502.
Follow signs for WA-502.
Turn left into the mall at NW 12th Avenue. Starbucks is to the right.
Directions from Portland to Battle Ground on I-205 N (about 36 min)
Take I-205 N into Washington toward Seattle.
Take Exit C-B-A to merge onto WA-500.
Continue on NE 117th Avenue/WA-503.
Turn left at W Main/WA-502 in Battle Ground.
Turn right into the mall at NW 12th Avenue. Starbucks is to the right.
Directions from Battle Ground to Pomeroy Living History Farm (about 25 min)
From NW 12th Avenue, turn left back onto WA-502.
Turn left back onto NW 10th Avenue/WA-503 heading north.
Turn right at sign for Pomeroy Farm/Moulton Falls (NE 152nd Avenue/NE Rock Creek Road).
Continue on NE Lucia Falls Road about 4 miles. Pomeroy’s small sign will be on your left.
Directions from Pomeroy Living History Farm to Chelatchie Prairie Railroad (about 12 min)
Turn left out of the Pomeroy driveway.
Head northeast on Lucia Falls Road toward Hantwick Road.
Lucia Falls Road becomes NE Railroad Avenue looping to the north.
Continue on Co 16 Road/NE Railroad Avenue. The train station will be on your right at the intersection of NE Railroad Avenue and W Yacolt Road. The railroad’s parking lot is across from the station.
Directions from Chelatchie Prairie Railroad to Cedar Creek Grist Mill (about 30 min)
Turn right out the railroad’s parking lot onto W Yacolt Road.
Turn right again at N. Amboy Avenue.
Bear to the right at NE 221st Avenue.
Continue on NE 221st Avenue.
Turn left at NE Cedar Creek Road.
Turn right at NE Grist Mill Road.
Directions from Cedar Creek Grist Mill to Portland on either I-5S or I-205S (about 50 min)
Note: The twisty return is well marked and follows the natural curves of the land.
Drive SW on NE Grist Mill Road past the intersection with NE 431st Street.
Turn right on Cedar Creek Road.
Turn left on Dobler Hill Road.
Turn right on NE 399th Street.
Turn left on NE 41st Avenue.
Turn right on Brothers Road which becomes NE 31st Avenue.
Continue on NE 31st Avenue.
Turn right on NE 339th Street which becomes NE Highland Avenue.
Continue on NE Highland Avenue.
Turn right on E 4th Street. You’ll be going through the town of La Center, and E 4th Street will become W 4th Street.
Follow the signs for NW Pacific Highway.
When you reach the intersection with NW Pacific Highway, take NW Lacenter Road to the left.
Continue west on NW Center Road toward I-5.
Stay left for the ramp to I-5 S and Portland.
If you’re using I-205 S on this trip, after 9 miles, bear right for the exit to I-205 S and Portland.
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