A childhood in the 1950s and 1960s had its own challenges, but certainly nothing of the nature that children face in this 21st century — no pandemic, no global warming, no monstrous wildfires. Hot summer nights on the residential streets of my small Montana hometown were filled with children riding bikes, playing cowboys and Indians, going to Sacajawea Park, or hollering out “olly olly oxen free” in a game of hide and seek. Most of the kids had only one parental requirement: “Be home before dark.”
An absolute favorite activity was a scavenger hunt. It required some preparation, as there was a list of things to gather by knocking on the doors in the neighborhood. “Do you have any of these things on our list?” we would question the person who answered. It was a sundry of items such as a red button, a large safety pin, or an empty carton of Lucky Strikes (smoking was in its heyday). The first person back with all the items won, which meant maybe something like a Hershey bar for a reward. It was so much fun!
It occurred to me that there are some historical sights in the Mazama corridor that could be a scavenger hunt, of sorts. Might be a delightful experience to find each of the following and imagine the early days of the Mazama settlers.
In 1946, H. Thomas Cain submitted a thesis to the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Arts degree. The title of his thesis was “Petroglyphs of the State of Washington.”
Cain lists Site 13 of Washington State petroglyphs north of Winthrop. Here on a single bolder on the steep hillside are pictographs, badly weathered, but still evidence of the tribes that once inhabited the valley. The figures include “conventionalized” birds and an unusual treatment of a brothers’ figure, according to Cain.
The onetime community of McKinney Mountain is the area served today by Wolf Creek and Kumm roads. The original homesteader was Mar Perrine, but the property was subsequently bought by the Morrow family in 1921 and later the Allison family. The scavenger hunt challenge is locating the advanced cross-country ski trail named “Bob” that winds off the MCT (Methow Community Trail). “Bob” memorializes Bob Allison who was an early proponent of the cross-country trail system.
I wrote of this next long-time valley resident in a former column about trees, but it bears mentioning again. Across Highway 20 from the red house with a rock fireplace and ancient barn that was built by Floyd Kent in the early 1930s, there stands a gnarled old apple tree alone in the field. The tree used to stand beside the Mt. McKinney School, which elicits visions of the country schoolhouse and children sitting under the shade of the blossoming apple tree.
For a few years, Andy Russell and his wife Gladys operated the Do Drop Inn, a café and gas pump, at the turnoff from Highway 20 to Lost River Road. Andy constructed the building from parts of a cofferdam used during a Columbia River hydroelectric construction project. Now owned by some nice folks from Wenatchee, one would never know its history.
A bike or horse ride, a walk or ski around Jack’s Trail offers the sight of Calloway Cassal’s house and barns, still standing in a beautiful meadow. Most of the lumber was salvaged and hauled across the river from a defunct sawmill once operated by Archie Green.
Most intriguing up Lost River Road is a home that was once a roadhouse run by “Lost River Bessie,” a Mazama mover and shaker during the mining boom. She served chicken dinners, sold her companion’s moonshine and her own homebrew. Occasionally, she would land in jail for an infraction such as delivering moonshine to the popular dance hall down-valley. Later, Bessie ran another roadhouse between Winthrop and Twisp where she offered more than chicken dinners with “working girls” upstairs.
I hope this “virtual” scavenger hunt will provide some enlightenment and maybe a few laughs. Most of the historical information can be found in Doug Devin’s book entitled “Mazama, The Past 125 Years.”