And Knowing Our Names

In trying to discover how Wilson Creek got its name, I came up short. The town was established in 1903, but the creek itself held this moniker for a few decades prior.

A military road was built near it in 1879, and the railroad came in 1892, the same year that the first school was established.

In May of 1896, an engineer for the Great Northern Railway named William Green was “passing a little way station near Wilson creek, unconsciously put his hand out of the cab window, when the hand came in violent contact with the mail catcher on the depot platform, breaking several bones, besides tearing the flesh badly.”

This is the earliest mention of the location that I could find. There are various other mentions of the creek in various other locations along its path, but where the Great Northern crossed its banks is where the town eventually grew up.

In 1898, two railroad workers were killed when a freight hit their handcar. The article about this mentions the town of Odessa, to the west, and what seems to be the town of Wilson Creek – five years before it was officially founded.

This town, even before it was a town, had quite a history. Its population was never higher than 400 or so, and is now around half that number.

Still, there’s something particularly comforting and enjoyable about this little burg. At a gas station/hardware/grocery store, we talked for a spell with a resident who loved the place, and lamented that her children moved away. She understood that there was not much there for them, but she was afraid that the town would soon dry up.

Mostly, apart from the railroad, it reminded me of the town where I grew up – New Berlin, Pennsylvania.


‘And Knowing Our Names’

Camera: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye (c1950)
Film: Kodak Tmax 100 (x-03/2000)
Process: HC-110B; 7min

Wilson Creek, Washington


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