Dayton, Washington, and the Fields of the Palouse
June 29, 2022
(Photos and memories from June 18, 2009)
It’s a glorious day in Dayton, Washington. A few wisps of cirrus clouds accent the bright blue sky. On the horizon, I see the white of high clouds above the blue sky, which meets the spring green of Palouse hillsides. The canola fields of The Palouse are spectacular.
The small town of Dayton (population 2,500) lies in a valley below hillsides of grain; some are striped with brown fallow portions.
Dayton lies at the southern edge of The Palouse, a spectacular grassland region of southeastern Washington and northwestern Idaho. The town wasn’t named for Dayton, Ohio, as you might suspect, but for early settlers Jesse and Elizabeth Day, who came here in the 1870s. The population here is about 2,500 persons.
There’s only one commercial street in Dayton. The Liberty Theatre is at one end; Disney’s “Up” arrives in town in two weeks. A few coffee shops surround that, but there’s plenty of activity here.
Down the street, an Eagle’s aerie dominates the main business block. A nostalgic mural is painted on the front wall and provides a reminiscence of life in 19th Century Dayton.
Here are a few more photos of Dayton: if your thing is boutique hotels, then try The Weinhard Hotel; the old-fashioned reliability of Elk Drug provides both prescriptions and a soda fountain; enjoy the look of a beautiful old Victorian home; and the Dayton train depot is the oldest in Washington state, dating from 1881. Dayton’s business district has been designated a National Historic District.
Across the street from the Liberty Theatre on Main Street, the Columbia County courthouse is a gem of gingerbread. It’s gray wood with stone trim. The square dome is three stories above a fine green lawn that was being mowed as I took photos. The front and back entrances have statues of Lady Justice above them; the east and west entrances have golden eagle statues. It’s been in use since 1887.
The Columbia County courthouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
More photos of the courthouse, including the interior stairwell, a closeup of the statue of Lady Justice on the roof, and a historical plaque explaining Dayton’s history.
Lewis and Clark rafted down the Snake River in 1805 during their voyage to the Pacific Ocean. For their return trip in 1806, they traveled overland, passing through present-day Dayton along an old Indian trail that connected Celilo Falls on the Columbia River with the Nez Perce lands of the Palouse. A town mural memorializes their journey.
On the hillsides outside of town are seemingly endless fields of canola flowers. The yellows against the sky and the distant Blue Mountains were spectacular.
A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.
All photos were taken by the author on June 18, 2009.
I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s a hobby, and donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly