Roads (Better Formatted)

As in most regions, roads in central Washington vary (in quality, in accessibility, in scenic ratings, in photo opportunities, pick any or all) from Interstate to cart paths. In eastern Washington the majority are closer to the latter. Generally my project is bordered on the north by Interstate 90 and on the west by US Highway 395.

Highways 260 and 261 are pale blue routes that run through Washtucna Coulee and most times carry little traffic so that it is periodically safe to stand in the middle and photograph. However, they form the major transportation corridor for this region. Route 260 starts a few miles west of Connell in Franklin County, and merges with Route 261 after about 20 miles. Both terminate in Ritzville, Adams County. The highway is relatively straight, curving as it needs to get around severe basalt out-crops, ascending and descending when it leaves the coulee bottom.

Methods of transportation and routes have done nearly as much as nature to shape the development and culture of this region. Railroads brought farmers, and the places where the trains stopped created towns. As roads changed from muddy paths then to cart tracks to gravel and then paving, some towns grew and prospered while others languished. Who needs a general store with ‘high’ prices when just down the highway 25 miles there is a big box store? Highways led to the demise of many of the railroads, and so it goes.

This central part of the state is where I have concentrated the Wheat Country project. My explorations branched off these major roads to nearby towns such as Lind, Benge and Harrington. One thing that all of these towns have in common is wide main streets, which I find fascinating because there is very little traffic, parking is never a problem, and none have stoplights. I do not know why these streets are so wide. Did they start as routes through which livestock could be driven, or horse drawn vehicles could be turned around? Were they were made so wide just because there was plenty of space to do so, or was some forefather thinking ahead with visions of grandeur and hopes for a center of commerce?


Highway 260


Highway 260


Farm Road East

Farm Road West

Morning Coffee - © Skip Smith

Main Street, Connell (Morning Coffee)

Main Street, Washtucna - © Skip Smith

Main Street, Washtucna

This article has 1 comments

  1. John

    I have been amazed at the beauty you find in these remote and empty places, and then successfully capture them in rather haunting images. The addition of the other information you have collected (geology, history) makes the images you have collected even more interesting. I am reminded of your images when I drive through nearby Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. Here deep arroyos are cut through the high basalt mesas reminiscent of the coulees of Eastern Washington.

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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