By Erika Kar

Walt Foster will have turned 90 years old by the time you read this. Mr. Foster may not have been born and bred here in Mazama, but he certainly had quite a hand in shaping our little slice of heaven. Walt’s granddaughter, Trish Rouse, filled me in on some of her grandfather’s story.

In 1958, Walt was a concrete finisher based in Lake Forest Park. He was married to Nella and they had a daughter, Carol. The Foster family enjoyed coming to Mazama to visit a friend that had purchased the homestead where the Mazama Ranch House is currently located. Every time they came to Mazama, they stopped in Wenatchee, knocking on the door of the house where the man who owned the Stewart Ranch lived. This property had caught Walt and Nella’s eye and they would ask the gentleman if he wanted to sell. For three years the answer was always “no”.

However, one fortuitous day, when Walt knocked, the answer became “yes.” There was one caveat; the Fosters had to come up with the money in two days. Although it was a stretch, Walt and Nella did it. They bought the property which included the original homestead. It was run-down but was one of the first homes in the area to have the luxury of indoor plumbing and electricity.

Photo courtesy of Trish Rouse
Walt Foster recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Foster and his family are longtime residents of Mazama.

The property also boasted, among several buildings, a huge unusually shaped, circular barn. According to Doug Devin’s book, “Mazama: The Past 100 Years,” this notable barn was built by Jack Stewart in a fairly typical, yet unique to the Methow, New England style. Unfortunately it burned down in the 1960s, but you can see a photograph of it in Devin’s book. The fire that claimed the barn also burned down the ranch house. Only an outhouse under a pine tree was spared. It still stands, albeit a bit shakily, to this day.

The Fosters drove from the Seattle area to “The Ranch” every weekend, savoring their time in Mazama. In the mid-’60s, Walt tracked down the owners of the neighboring homestead to inquire about purchasing the property. This homestead, then owned by Andy and Agnes Pedrosa, was located where Walt now has his current Mazama home, up from the Mazama Store on the river.

The Pedrosas were living in Twisp in a small cabin without power or running water. Agnes was an invalid due to her legs being severely burned when she attempted to cross a creek to escape a forest fire. It was said that the Pedrosas were nearly destitute. Andy agreed to sell to the Fosters if they agreed to take care of them for the rest of their lives. This is exactly what Walt and Nella did. They built a cabin for Andy and Agnes and took care of them for the next 25 years.

In the late 1960s, the Fosters moved to Mazama to raise cattle, while still running his Seattle business. Their daughter, Carol, married a local boy and they began their family in a small house on Goat Creek Road. In 1972, Walt and family moved to East Wenatchee, but spent weekends and holidays where their heart resided, in Mazama, for the next 20-ish years. Finally in 1993, Walt retired and the Fosters moved back to Mazama. They remodeled the cabin that they had originally built for the Pedrosas and made it their home.

Walt had been forced to sell more than half of the property (700 acres) that he owned due to the fluctuations of business and economy, but the heart of the property, nearly 300 acres, was used to create the Foster Planned Development that included 231 acres of Wildlife and Agriculture Open Space to maintain the natural and rural character of the land.

Mr. Foster traded in his concrete equipment for farm equipment and became an alfalfa farmer. His granddaughter, Trish Rouse, lives with her family in the house on Goat Creek Road and can be found farming alfalfa in the Foster tradition.