June 19 – Ellensburg, WA (an interesting city)

Ellensburg is a city with a population was 20,326 in a 2017 census estimate.   It is located just east of the cascade Range on Interstate 90 and is known as the most centrally located city in the state.  Ellensburg was officially incorporated on November 26, 1883.

John Shoudy

came to the Kittitas Valley in 1871, and purchased a small trading post from Andrew Jackson "A.J." Splawn, called "Robber's Roost." Robber's Roost was the first business in the valley, other than the early trading that occurred among American Indians, cattle drivers, trappers, and miners.  Robber's Roost was located on the present-day 3rd Avenue, just west of Main Street near the alley.  There is a placard on the wall commemorating the location, as well as a small stone monument against the wall on the sidewalk.  When asked what he wanted to call the town, he replied, "Ellensburg", after his wife, Mary Ellen Shoudy.

thus officially began the city of Ellensburg around 1872.  Shoudy was not the first settler in the Valley, nor was he the first businessperson, but he was responsible for platting the city of Ellensburg in the 1870s, and he was the person who named the streets in the downtown district.

Our first stop today was at the Kittitas County Historical Museum

to pick up a walking tour map.  However, we quickly disscovered that the museum had far more to offer than we could have anticipated … much of it donated by past and present residents of the city … including many artifacts from long ago.

Train freight wagon

Coal stove

"Crummy" Stove

Dental chair and X-ray machine

Doctor's examination table

Newspaper dispenser (5-cents each)

Offset printing press

Elementary school desks

Dial phone

Old wall phones

Telephone switchboard (circa 1906)

Wooden wheel chair

Eight day clock (circa 1883)

Eureka Wonder Grain Grader

Handless cup and saucer (circa 1764)

Knabe Square Grand Piano (circa 1840)

Linotype printing press

Richfield gas pump

Road sign of the early 20th century times


With its 1919 unique design, the disc wheels eliminated a common problem of wheel spokes puncturing holes in the bike tires.

Cost:  ~$10.00 per bike

Velocipere tricycle

VIntage organ

Cornhusk bags are unique products of the Columbia Plateau Native American groups.  Designed to transport and store dried foods and other valuables, these bags were made of a plain twining of cotton warp., Indian hemp and cotton werfs.  Following contact with European Americans, new materials such as brightly colored wools became available and were integrated into the existing art forms.  These bags represent examples of this stage of the form’s development.

These beaded bags are products of craftspeople of the Mid Columbia Plateau Notice American groups.  Earlier and less decorated examples were used for everyday transportation and storage, but bags with elaborate beaded designs were used as trade items and personal decorative accessories, and oftern passed down through generations.

They had a fascinating collection of cars from the  late 1800s and early 1900s.

Ford Model TT Truck (circa 1922) – equipped with a 20 hp engine it could haul a one-ton load

Ford Model T Speedster (circa 1923) – 20 hp engine it could hit 37 MPH on 1920s gravel roads and up to 50 mph on paved roads

Mobile Steam Runabout Dos-a-Dos (circa 1899) – tiller-steered, speeds up to 25 MPH – believed to have once been owned by Henry Ford

Flanders 20 Suburban (circa 1910) – was a passenger transporter and delivery vehicle; and it had a 30 hp engine and internal expanding drum brakes

Ford Model T Depot Hack (circa 1914) – used as a taxi

Holsman Highwheeler Surrey (circa 1903) – 2-cylinder, 10 hp air-cooled engine; it has no clutch and no speed-changing gearing, just one lever beside the steering handle

Its under carriage is refelctred in a mirror

There was a room dedicated to wars our country has fought and in which young men from Ellensburg served and frequently died.

Civil War

Spanish American War

World War I

World War II

World War II Jeep

Korean War

Vietnam War

Then there were some truly old items … hundreds of years

Native American Petroglyphs

and even millions of years old in fact.

Petrified wood

After more than an hour … actually just skimming the surface of what the museum had to offer … we headed out on a walking tour of the historic downtown area of Ellensburg with its many architectually-unique buildings (nearly all having seen many occupants since their were built).

Bossong Building (1889)

Davidson Buuilding (1919)

Farmers Bank (1911)

Former Masonic Temple (1890)

Geiger Woods Building (1889)

Kleinberg Building (1889)

Lynch Building (1888)

Several Main Street Buildings (1880 – 1911)


National Bank of Ellensburg (1888)

National Bank of Ellensburg Art Deco

Pearson Building (1908)


Shaw's Furniture and Appliances (since 1919)

even private residences

The sides of many of the building have been used for advertising … a few badly faded

while most are still legible

and even a couple of evidently newly painted ones.

Around the city there were a great many bike racks,

many trash recepticles,

benches (not all painted, however),

public clocks,

clever and political signs,

flowers everywhere,

old-fashion mail boxes,

and even sculptures … one of whom made a pass at Debbie.

We then stumbled upon Dick and Jane's Spotan art site and a home.  Dick and Jane made most of the art you see but they have also collected art.  The works of over 40 Northwest artists are on display in the yard. Generally, what you see from outside the fence is what you see. The rest is a private yard so visitors are requested to remain outside the fences.  The Spot has been a work in progress for 40 years.  There are over 10,000 bottle caps and thousands of reflectors. The pieces in the yard are always changing.  Old pieces decay and new ones are added.

After lunch at the Yellow Church Cafe,

The Yellow Church Cafe was built in 1923 as a church for the German Lutherans. Since then, the building has served many purposes and is now a restaurant. We believe that food, friends and fellowship go hand in hand. We strive for excellence.

We had a great lunch on the porch

we headed back to our campground, passing more curiousities along the way.

The more we travel across the United States and Canada, the more we discover there are some many interesting places to see.


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