Kahlotus, WA

Kahlotus Overview - © Skip Smith

Kahlotus, WA

I first stumbled into Kahlotus several years ago while on a photo trip with my good friend Susan Huber. Susan is an outstanding artist and I urge you to visit her web site: www.susanhuber.com.  I vowed then to return someday and the rest is history.

Kahlotus is located about halfway between Connell and Washtucna on Hwy 260. It has nearly 200 residents, several well cared for parks including a public swimming pool, and baseball facilities, a large modern grain bin and several old wooden ones, a post office, a library, two churches, a couple of viable businesses, a large school for about 50 students and people that care. The parks and large school gymnasium, and probably other features one would not expect in such a small community are contributions of local farmers that have done well. Maintenance appears to be largely done by volunteers.

EW720070 - © Skip Smith

Library, Kahlotus

This is the smallest public library that I have seen. It is well-kept, in contrast to the grain bins that loom above it. Patrons have to leave strollers and back packs outside, as there is only room for three or four people to stand. Students congregate on the steps and bench after school.

Gary's Tree House - © Skip Smith

Gary’s Tree House

Gary was an ambitious lad to build a two story tree house.

The origin of the name Kahlotus (originally Hardersburg) is uncertain. It may be a Native American word meaning “Hole in the ground”, or “stinking water” in reference to the highly alkaline water in the nearby lake. Possibly the town was named for a Palouse tribal chief.  Shortly after it’s founding in the first decade of the 20th century it is claimed it had nearly 20 saloons, a bank, newspaper, brothels, and other businesses. Lead articles in the Kahlotus Record of November 1907 attempted to promote readership with the grizzly then as they do now, to whit: “Committed Suicide – Despondent Laborer Cuts Throat With Razor” and “Diphtheria Fatal In Washtucna”. The back pages were primarily for advertising and I noted ads for: 7 saloons, McChesney and Chittenden – Groceries, Shoes, and Men’s Furnishings, a Blacksmith, Drugstore, Bakery, Restaurant, and 3 Attorneys.

Cochrane Auto Ranch - © Skip Smith

Cochrane’s Auto Ranch, Kahlotus

I am adding people to my Kahlotus story, as in all places they make it what it is. I don’t normally do people pictures but I can’t resist trying. Usually I end up with snapshots rather than portraits. What the difference is between the two I do not know, however it does seem that if the subject is smiling it is not a portrait, but I digress. People stories in Kahlotus are rich. I told two in my post “Tragedy and Triumph, May 26.  I met a man who runs a fix it shop out of the back of his pickup, is a financial consultant, and owns a used car lot (current stock of one car).  He was 69 and talked as if he just learned how and was making up for lost time.  Another man was a retired studio photographer.  He is now Mr. Kahlotus Gospel Radio an Internet station broadcasting 24/7.

Gary was working on his car on the main street of Kahlotus.  Nothing unusual there except that the temperature was 7 degrees F!


Nina was hesitant about having her picture taken but she finally relented and allowed several photographs.  Her dog Lucky growled through the whole process.  I saw her later buying junk food and asked if I could come over.  She said that if I did she would sick Lucky on me.



I must make special mention of The Farmers Daughter a deli/quick stop.  Ann and Candi are both daughters of farmers; Candi is also the daughter of Ann. Both women are involved full time with their families’ wheat farms in addition to owning and operating their deli/quick stop in Kahlotus. They have been gracious in allowing me to hang out in their store, answer my myriad questions and introducing me to locals. Everyone knows everyone and everybody that I met was friendly and shared stories. They have an informal banking/postal service (although there is a US Post Office). Some people are allowed to charge everything in a month, others have a limited credit and time limit, and some leave cash there and take it out when they need it. They also serve to hold notes and other items to be picked up by the addressee.


Other people, other stories.    One character in town was driving a 4 wheeler atv through town. He ran a stop sign at the only real intersection and got a DUI.  He didn’t lose his license though, since he’d never had one due to his being nearly blind.  There are other characters.  You have got to love them all.


Father and Son Selling Melon


In Kahlotus the Pepsi sign lists local events on one side and the month’s birthdays on the other.






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Please send me an email for general inquiries, friendly hello's, or to contact me for print purchase. All pieces are available. Thank you for your interest! –Skip