Winthrop rec trail to be named after valley icon
Winthrop’s RiverWalk trail will be officially named in honor of one the valley’s most revered historic figures and benefactors.
At its meeting last week, the Winthrop Town Council agreed to name the RiverWalk scenic and recreational trail after Katherine “Kay” Wagner, who conceived, promoted and essentially financed the town’s Westernization efforts in the early 1970s.
Otto and Kay Wagner were owners of the former Wagner Mill in Twisp, a longtime valley fixture and major employer. They also owned the Wagner Ranch on East Chewuch Road, which was recently deeded to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation by the Methow Conservancy.
A resolution to name the trail the Kay Wagner Historical RiverWalk was introduced as a discussion item, but the council quickly agreed to adopt it after hearing from Town Planner Rocklynn Culp.
Culp said property owners along the proposed route of the RiverWalk urged the town to consider the idea of honoring the Wagners, specifically Kay. “She made an enormous contribution to the town,” Culp said.
“It’s an easy win for all of us,” council member Seth Miles said, including the property owners who supported the naming resolution.
The resolution also included two other provisions:
• A plaque will be placed near the planned Chewuch River underpass that will be part of the trail in honor of the late Paul Therriault. His son, Larry Therriault, donated $30,000 toward completion of the RiverWalk project.
• The RiverWalk will be considered a historical corridor to help tell the story of Winthrop’s history. The town will work with the Shafer Museum and others to develop appropriate signage.
Recently, several owners of properties along the proposed RiverWalk route signed easements that help clear the way to begin Phase I of the project.
RiverWalk is intended to eventually extend a pedestrian walkway from the Sa Teekh Wa bridge downstream to the Spring Creek Bridge, including an underpass beneath the north end of the Chewuch River Bridge at the four-way stop. Much of the trail would be on the back side of commercial buildings that front on Riverside Avenue.
Phase I of the project, which includes the underpass, required numerous local, state and federal regulatory permits, and is funded by a state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant plus federal transportation monies. Phase II would be from the kiosk behind the Farmer’s Exchange Building to Spring Creek Bridge. Phase III would extend upstream on the Chewuch River from the back of the Emporium to Sa Teekh Wah bridge.
Completion of the project, which has been in discussion for nearly 30 years, is called for in the town’s comprehensive plan.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council approved the return of the Methow Makers Market, a twice monthly “pop-up” market featuring local artisans selling their works in downtown Winthrop’s Confluence Park, starting in May. The market is organized by Phoebe Rudd, a local jewelry artist and salon owner. Planned dates are May 6 and 20, June 3 and 17, July 1 and 15, Aug. 5 and 19, and Sept. 2 and 16.