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Douglas RD

Douglas RD

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Douglas RD

The Douglas RD was the Navy version of the Douglas Dolphin twin-engined amphibious aircraft, and was produced in a number of variants for the Navy and Coast Guard. In army service it was known as the C-21/ OA-3 (see here for technical details) or the C-26/ OA-4.


The XRD-1 was the first version of the Dolphin to serve with the US Navy. It was powered by two 435hp Wright R-975E radial engines, and carried military instruments. It was accepted by the Navy on 1 August 1931, and was used as a US Navy staff transport until it was struck off on 12 July 1938.


The sole RD was built as a civil Model 1 Special, powered by two 300hp Wright J-5C Whirlwing engines and with space for eight passengers. In August 1932 it was purchased by the US Coast Guard, and given two 435hp Wright R-965E engines. It served with the Coast Guard until November 1939.


The designation RD-2 was given to a number of aircraft, all similar to the C-26/ OA-4, with a modified tail and no auxiliary tail fins.

RD-2 s/n 1122 was purchased by the Air Corps for the Coast Guard. It was similar to the Army's Y1C-26, but was powered by two 500hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-10 engines.

RD-2 s/n 1138 was a five-place luxury transport used by President Roosevelt from 1933 until 1939. It was originally powered by two 410hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-1 engines and later by two 500hp R-1340-10 engines.

RD-2 s/n 1139 and 1140 were less luxurious transport aircraft used by Navy and Marine officers. They were powered by two 450hp R-1340-96 engines, and were retired in March 1940.


The RD-3 was a utility transport powered by two 450hp Pratt & Whitney engines (either R-1340-4s or R-1340-96s). They were delivered in 1934-35.


The RD-4 was the final military version of the Dolphin. Ten were ordered, making it the most numerous sub-type of the Dolphin. It was powered by two 420hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp C1 engines, and could carry 252 gallons of fuel. The first entered service in November 1934, and the type was used for search and rescue duties with the Coast guard.

In December 1941 four RD-4s were still in use when the US entry into the war brought the Coast Guard under direct Navy control. They were used to fly security patrols along the US coast. The last of the RD-4s was decommissioned in June 1943.

Engine: Two Wright R-975E radial engines
Power: 435hp each
Crew: 2
Span: 60ft 0in
Length: 43ft 3in
Height: 14ft 1in
Empty weight: 6,127lb
Loaded weight: 8,347lb
Maximum take-off weight:
Max speed: 151mph at 5,000ft
Climb Rate: 860ft/ min
Service ceiling: 17,300ft
Range: 466 miles

Engine: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1340-4s or R-1340-96s
Power: 450hp each
Crew: 2
Span: 60ft
Length: 45ft 3in
Height: 15ft 2in
Empty weight: 6,764lb
Loaded weight: 9,734lb
Max speed: 149mph
Climb Rate: 6.2min to 5,000ft
Service ceiling: 15,100ft
Range: 692 miles

School History

In 1859, a “picture walk” was opened through the forest from New Westminster to Burnaby Lake. This pathway was widened as it stretched toward Burrard Inlet and became known as Douglas Road.

The two-room schoolhouse

Our school, Douglas Road, used to be known as Lakeview School. The two original rooms were built in 1908 and are still in use. It was in 1915 that the name changed to Douglas Road School. The new building,with its brick facing, had four rooms. It was opened in 1928 the principal was Mr. J.A. Scott. Later, the two rooms in the old building were used to teach Arts and Home Economics so that the 250 students enrolled had every opportunity to get a good education.

Mid-century changes

In 1952, Douglas Road School became an Elementary – Junior High School. In the summer of 1954, some changes were made to the school. During that time, the number of staff increased from 6 to 15 and the student population increased from 207 to 421.

How To Measure

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Even into the early twentieth century, many Indians continued to use Waterville as a place for assembling and trading. Some continued their seasonal migration to dig camas roots in the area as late as the 1960s. A professional town builder from Kansas, J. W. Adams (1861-1939), attempted to establish a community called Okanogan (no relation to present Okanogan) seven miles east of the eventual site of Waterville. Deep wells came up dry, forcing pioneers to haul water from great distances. Since this unpromising proposed town was the only potential settlement in the area, in 1883 it was named county seat of Douglas County. Soon Douglas, a more viable community, began to develop some five miles east of present Waterville. No trace remains of Okanogan, but Douglas survives as an unincorporated hamlet. The actual townsite of Waterville was first a squatter's claim taken out by Stephen Boise in 1883. Albert T. Greene (1854-1933), called the "father of Waterville" bought the claim in 1885 and, with Joseph M. Snow, a surveyor and judge, platted the town in 1886. They named it Waterville because, in contrast with Okanogan, its wells produced a plentiful supply of water. In 1887 the town became the new county seat.

One of the most important early settlers was a Norwegian immigrant, Ole Olsen Ruud (1847-1928), who arrived in the vicinity of future Waterville in 1883. Ruud was a graduate of a distinguished agricultural college in Norway, where he studied subjects from the liberal arts and sciences as well as agriculture. He emigrated because “The narrow surroundings [of the family farm in Norway] and my roaming disposition brought upon me the ‘American fever'" (Stradling, 8). He spent several years working and learning English in the Midwest before settling in Washington Territory. His memoirs and letters home to Norway recount decades of Waterville-area life. About his squatter’s claim, he wrote: “On the 16th of May, 1883, I stuck up my notice and plowed a small patch of land in Section 4, Township 24 N. Range 22 E.W.M.” Although Ruud claimed “This, I believe was the first time sod was turned in the vicinity of Badger Mountain and the present town of Waterville” (Stradling, 26), Platt Corbaley and some of his family had arrived in April a few weeks ahead of him. Ruud’s land was blessed with good soil, a spring flowing down from the mountain, and plentiful timber nearby for building his cabin and barns. In 1884 Ruud was elected surveyor for Douglas County and, in addition to farming, spent the next 18 years laying out most of the roads in the county and surveying in such towns as Ephrata, Coulee City, and Wilson Creek. In 1888 he became a United States citizen. His successful farm, soon enlarged beyond the original 160-acre homestead, was far more enduring than most, earning recognition in 1989 as one of Washington’s “Centennial Farms” -- territorial-era farms still owned by the same family at the time of the Washington State Centennial. The original farm is still (2010) in Ruud family hands.

Although Greene and Snow had surveyed and filed a plat in 1886, and it was approved on the county level by Douglas County trustees John C. Brownfield (1841-1922), James H. Kincaid (1851-1905), and Judson Murray on October 26, it was not until May 1890 that the official patent of the townsite was issued. The problem was that Waterville was what was called a “government townsite” (Steele, 571) under which claims had to be filed through the United States Land Office and approved in Washington, D.C., just as was required for rural homesteads. There was a huge backlog of all kinds of claims throughout the West, with the result that Waterville’s plat approval was delayed. This situation resulted in considerable claim jumping, as original claimants who had not yet put up buildings had trouble defending their lots. Newcomers even started construction on lots designated for the public good, such as streets, parks, and civic buildings. Once clear title had been granted on the national level, Waterville was free to grow, with settlers confident of clear title to their property.

Becoming County Seat

In 1885 there had been an attempt to move the county seat from Okanogan to Douglas by a direct vote of the county commissioners, but the plan was defeated. In an election in 1886, Waterville won by popular vote. On May 2, 1887, the county commissioners officially declared Waterville the county seat. As happened in so many county seat disputes, the rival town did not give up the records without a struggle. The Douglas County auditor, R. S. Steiner, refused to relinquish them, so the sheriff had to intervene to secure them for the new county seat. The new court was housed temporarily in a small, multipurpose building hastily thrown together by J. M. Snow. Then the civic-minded Greene not only donated land for Waterville’s first actual courthouse, but built the distinguished two-story wooden building in 1889 and sold it to the city for one dollar. Another boost came in November 1890, when a United States Land Office was established at Waterville. Before that time, homesteaders from the region had to travel all the way to Yakima to conduct any business related to their claims. The pride of the town was, and remains, the final courthouse, a brick and stone building designed by architect Newton C. Gauntt and built in 1905. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

In November 1887, the town secured a post office, with A. T. Greene as the first postmaster. During 1887-1888, mail arrived at “odd times” (Steele, p. 569) by stagecoach from Spokane over 150 miles east and from Ellensburg, 75 miles southwest across the Columbia and the Kittitas Mountains. During the severe winter of 1889-1890, the stages could not get through the deep snow, so sporadic mail delivery had to be brought by toboggan or on snowshoes. Normal delivery did not resume until April 1890.

In 1888 Waterville and the surrounding area suffered a mysterious epidemic from which upwards of 30 people died and many more were seriously ill. It was variously referred to as “malaria of a virulent kind,” “typhoid,” or “mountain fever” (Stradling, 53). Dr. Colin Gilchrist (1861-1924), typical of pioneer physicians, rode horseback to tend his widely scattered patients, many of whom were too poor to pay for his services.

Wide-Awake Merchants and Beautiful Women

Amazingly, Waterville briefly entertained hopes of becoming the capital not only of the Big Bend, but of the entire Washington Territory, soon to become a state. To promote the idea, the Big Bend Empire of December 27, 1888 made the following inflated assertions:

“Waterville is approximately the geographical center of the Territory it is so accessible from all parts of the Territory that three different railroads are breaking their necks to get here first it is midway between the Queen City of the Sound and the ‘Minneapolis of the West,’ Spokane. Three months ago Waterville was nothing, now it is a booming city with over a hundred fine buildings the shingles of which are not discolored by wintry storms. Among the enterprises under contemplation for spring are a system of waterworks, street cars and electric lights. It has the most wide awake merchants and greatest number of beautiful women of any town in the United States. It is a boomer it is a bird it’s going to be the capital” (Steele, 572).

Obviously, Waterville did not succeed in this goal. But the town was incorporated on March 22, 1889, during the waning months of Washington Territory, and reincorporated on April 14, May 3 or 12, 1890, (sources vary) under the laws of the new state. And improvements resulted from the effort to make it the state capital. A group of Seattle capitalists formed the Waterville Improvement Company, receiving about 600 acres of nearby agricultural land with the proviso that they would install waterworks and electric lights, both of which happened in 1892. The 1900 census put Waterville’s population at 482, but by July of 1904, it had risen to 1,000.

A possible factor in Waterville’s growth was its first newspaper, the Big Bend Empire, which newcomer Lucien E. Kellogg founded in February 1888 after hauling a printing press from Spokane by rail to Ritzville and then by freight wagon during a harrowing December snow storm. Kellogg had already established papers in Colfax and Cheney and was looking for another promising location. The Waterville Immigrant and the Douglas County Democrat soon provided competition. Typical of many early newspapermen, Kellogg regarded the local paper as a means of attracting settlers who then would become subscribers. However, cash proved so short among his readers that Kellogg often accepted wood or produce instead. In the florid journalism of those days there was little effort to separate genuine news from opinion or advertising: It was up to the reader to do so. In 1921 the Big Bend Empire combined with a later newspaper, the Douglas County Press, to form the Waterville Empire Press. The local newspaper currently serving the Waterville area is the Douglas County Empire Press, a weekly published in East Wenatchee.

Waterville had been set to become the commercial center of a thriving cattle-raising area when the disastrous winter of 1889/1890, which killed livestock throughout the Northwest, convinced many cattle ranchers to change over to raising wheat. Then no sooner was wheat established as a cash crop than Waterville was hit with the nation-wide economic depression known as the Panic of 1893. Threatened with foreclosure on his farm and prime wheat selling for only 30 cents a bushel, Norwegian homesteader Ruud wrote to a newspaper in Michigan:

“Times are so hard and money so scarce here in this good wheat country, the Big Bend of the Columbia, that property can hardly be sold for money. A band of horses was sold the other day at sheriff’s sale for one dollar a head, and if times done’ change, more sheriff’s sales will be made at the same rate . Farms and other real estate are passing over to the money loaners. I expect to hear of many foreclosures before the year 1894 is out” (Stradling, 71).

When the Big Bend Empire became aware of this article, it published a lengthy refutation accusing Ruud of disloyally defaming Douglas County: “And now this ex-official [county surveyor] and prosperous farmer attempts to injure the county that has given him his prosperity, by publishing to the world an article that is false in many and misleading in all particulars” (Stradling, 73).

The Tramway Era

By 1895 Waterville was beginning to pull out of the recession and was confident enough of its prosperity to host the first Douglas County Industrial Exposition in early October. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people “swarmed the streets and pushed and jostled and jammed the exposition grounds. The stock parade took place at noon and the free barbeque was an immense success. The people assembled at the grand stand and Congressman S. C. Hyde of Spokane delivered an address . . The exposition was in every respect a grand success financially and socially” (Steele, 555). Samuel Clarence Hyde (1842-1922) was one of Washington State’s two congressmen at the time.

Wheat farming was not without some continuing problems, transportation being a major one. Waterville’s position high on the plateau above the Columbia made access to the river ports barely possible for heavily-loaded wagons. A solution was found in 1902 when the Columbia River Tramway Company began operating trams from the edge of the bluff down the breaks to a steamboat landing three miles north of Orondo. Large steel buckets on cables supported by wooden towers carried wheat sacks the two miles down and returned laden with freight and merchandise for Waterville stores. At first gravity operated, it soon became obvious that the tram needed a steam engine as well. There are local tales of a few intrepid souls riding the giant buckets, on one occasion being stranded for many hours because of a mechanical malfunction. The tram operated until 1910. One of the buckets salvaged by helicopter in 1973 is on display outside the Douglas County Historical Museum at Waterville next to murals depicting the tramway era.

Railroads and Roads

The tram was no longer needed when in 1910 a standard gauge railroad spur line began providing shipment via the Great Northern connection at Douglas. The Waterville Railroad was built by local interests when it became clear that the GN did not intend to extend its Mansfield-Douglas line into Waterville. The Great Northern did agree to loan ties, rails and fastenings, with the stipulation that they could be reclaimed on short notice. At less than five miles, the Waterville Railroad was certainly one of the shortest in the West, if not the nation. Its most dramatic incident occurred on February 26, 1920, when a lone passenger coach with five passengers aboard was waiting on the tracks while freight cars were loaded with wheat on a siding. Somehow it began to roll down the tracks, reaching a speed of 40 miles per hour, and not stopping until it had crashed into the depot at Douglas. Miraculously, no one was hurt. The Waterville Railroad, which was never in debt, continued in operation until the great flood of 1948. During early June, the Columbia and other rivers in the Northwest were already flooding. Waterville seemed safe on high ground, but a series of cloudbursts beginning on the 16th sent the canyon creeks raging, washing out bridges and a mile of track along Douglas Creek.

Begun in 1885, the earliest primitive road crossed the plateau between Okanogan, the then county seat, and Waterville. Wagon and later motorized transport to and from Waterville remained harrowing for decades. During the same year, the advent of a steam ferry on the Columbia at the mouth of the Wenatchee River made access to the river more desirable. The fledgling Douglas County assisted in constructing a road along an old Indian trail from the Waterville plateau down to the river through Corbaley Canyon, named for members of the Corbaley family -- Platt, Alvaro Lenhart (1862-1941), and Richard (1820-1903) -- who had begun arriving in 1883 to homestead three miles from Waterville at the foot of Badger Mountain. On this difficult route George W. Blair (d. 1928) and C. C. Rickman established a stage and mail service in 1886, linking Waterville with Ellensburg. It was “a nightmare for men and horses alike, going and coming, steep and treacherous, and winters turned the route into an icy bobsled run. They had to wrap chains around the runners of the loaded sled to prevent it from shooting downhill out of control” (Beginnings, 18). During the 1890s another company, the Broadhead and Buchanan stages, operated on the portion of this route between Waterville and Orondo on the Columbia. The road from the east, roughly following present U.S. 2, was only marginally better, involving steep grades at Moses Coulee and Douglas Creek Canyon.

Although a few intrepid early motorists did traverse Corbaley Canyon, and as early as 1914 an automobile “stage line” was transporting passengers and parcels in a Maxwell and a Buick, it was obvious that a new route was needed. Accordingly, in 1916, a five-mile road constructed by convict labor from the penitentiary at Walla Walla, was completed through nearby Pine Canyon. It still involved a steep grade and hairpin turns, but was much safer than the Corbaley Canyon route. There were additional improvements during the 1920s, and the road received its first bituminous coating in 1930. It became part of the Sunset Highway linking Spokane with the Puget Sound area. Because of the 1948 flood, the road had to be relocated at a higher level. Further improvements to the road led to the ribbon cutting for the new Pine Canyon Highway on August 4, 1965.

Growing and Diversifying

Meanwhile, the town was growing and prospering. During the late 1880s, brief gold rushes in the Okanogan and Salmon River areas brought packers and outfitters through town. Soon there were many substantial new buildings of brick made in local brickyards. Handsome banks, churches, and mercantile establishments proliferated, many still standing, and the Downtown Historic Waterville District has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988. The charming Hotel Waterville, opened in 1903 and beautifully restored during recent years as the Historic Waterville Hotel and on the National Register since 1984, was built of local brick upon a foundation of basalt boulders hauled by wagon from Douglas Creek five miles to the east. Except for a period of closure from 1975 to 1991, the hotel has been essential to the business growth of Waterville. It provides an ideal stopover for tourists, including many from Europe, “not exactly the Motel 6 crowd . mostly well traveled people looking for something different but affordable” (Labor of Love).

Although wheat continued to dominate, Waterville was the center of a diversified agricultural area. The Waterville Union Grain Company, incorporated on August 8, 1908, began building grain storage facilities in towns along the branch line of the Great Northern between Wenatchee and Mansfield. During the last two years of operation of the wheat tram, the Waterville Union Grain company had a warehouse at the top and the bottom. Cattle ranching began making a comeback, and potatoes became a major Big Bend crop. Waterville hosted the first Potato Carnival on November 1-3, 1911, and it became the Douglas County Fair in 1913. Beginning in 1944 it became the North Central Washington District Fair.

Depression Era

After the earlier period of prosperity, the agricultural depression of the late teens and early twenties struck Douglas County, in fact much of the United States, several years before the stock market crash of 1929. Waterville’s agriculture slumped as a result of drought beginning in 1917 and the falling wheat prices and bank failures of the 1920s. The situation continued bleak during the Depression of the 1930s.

During the last years of the Depression, Waterville hosted a unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps, organized by the federal government to provide work for young men and to advance conservation of natural resources. On July 26, 1940, Waterville received Company 6435 from Alabama. Under the supervision of conservationist Charles Bisbee, this unit engaged in stream control, planted trees and shrubs, assisted with contour soil cultivation, prepared the ground for an airport, and cleared brush for the Badger Mountain ski area. For the 200 young men who had never been far from their home towns in Alabama, being transplanted to Waterville was a culture shock, but Maynard Sanders recalled: “It was a wonderful learning experience. I returned south to bring another company to Waterville. Of course I found my true love in Waterville” (Beginnings, 65).

School and a Theater

With the arrival of settlers, one-room schools began to dot the Big Bend plateau. The first town school in Waterville was completed in 1893 on a city block donated by James H. Kincaid at the time he extended Kincaid’s First Addition to the original townsite in 1889. It was a wooden mainly two-story building with a smaller third story topped by a bell tower and cupola. Most farm and ranch children in the lower grades continued to attend their rural schools, but for high school, many boarded with families in town so that they could attend the new school. Sometimes entire families from distant ranches or homesteads would move into town for the school term. Yearly tuition fees for non-resident pupils in 1899 were: high school upper elementary, $10.50 and primary $9. Before motorized school buses, many farm children, including those of Ole Ruud, were brought to the Waterville School in a long, covered horse-drawn wagon, which in winter became a sled. Waterville’s first large brick school, complete with “well heated, well lighted and splendidly ventilated rooms … water toilets, gymnasiums, shower baths, etc.” (Beginnings, 13) was dedicated in October, 1913 amid much fanfare. In 1969 the present two-story building replaced the 1913 school, which was razed in 1970.

Although there was a prior Nifty Theatre, the present wooden building opened in 1919. In addition to Hollywood films, it featured traveling vaudeville shows, dancers, comedians, even “The Royal Whirlwinds, a Sensational Roller Skating Team,” (National Register) and local entertainment such as school plays. During the Depression of the 1930s, the longtime owner, W. P. Brown, sponsored drawings for groceries and cash. Newsreels shown at the Nifty during World War II provided more current war news than did the local weekly newspaper. Until 1959 this small theater provided Mr. Brown enough income to acquire farm land and to indulge his passion for horse racing. While the advent of television brought its demise as a theater, the building retained its original integrity under a succession of owners and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Sports and Recreation

Many of Waterville’s amenities are the result of dedicated volunteerism. It was way ahead of most towns its size in providing a public swimming pool. A. L. Rogers (d. 1929) and his wife donated the land, and the community raised money and provided labor. The pool was dedicated on July 4, 1928. Charlotte Mitchell, the first Red Cross certified lifeguard, who began working at the pool in 1930, offered her services for only a dollar a day so that children who could not afford the $5.00 season ticket could swim for free. She continued to manage the pool for many years. Heating and a new bathhouse were added in 1959 with the help of the Lions Club, and on June 19, 1977, a completely new pool was dedicated.

Volunteers were also behind the Waterville’s Pioneer Park, occupying 19 city lots also donated by A. L. Rogers. It was dedicated on September 23, 1939, with Governor Clarence D. Martin (1884-1955) in attendance. The Badger Mountain Ski Club, founded in 1939, was a supreme example of Waterville volunteerism, with members operating the rope tow and ski lift, taking tickets, shoveling snow, cutting and hauling wood, and even building a new lodge in 1961 to replace the original homesteader’s cabin. Today, although having to compete with commercial ski areas in the nearby Cascades, Badger Mountain continues as an all-volunteer operation for skiers, snow boarders, and snow mobilers.

A Civic-Minded Couple

One couple who especially epitomized the entrepreneurial and civic spirit of Waterville was William F. Schluenz (1880-1967) and his wife Etta Marie Chamberlin Schluenz (1877-1967). William Schluenz, originally from Wisconsin, arrived in Waterville in 1903 to homestead and work as a bookkeeper at the Rogers & Howe store. In 1905 he established the Waterville Hardware Store, which he owned and operated for 36 years. Its stock, ranging from tools, household items, harnesses to the largest farm machinery from International Harvester, John Deere and other companies, attracted customers from all over the Big Bend. His company even ventured into real estate. In his retirement, Schluenz continued to work on his own ranches and participate in civic activities. He served as State Appraiser for Douglas County and was especially active in the Good Roads Movement.

His wife Etta grew up near Waterville on a ranch started by her family in 1888. She was a local teacher who continued to help her widowed mother with the ranch before marrying William F. Schluenz in 1905. Etta Schluenz devoted her adult life to civic efforts on behalf of Waterville: establishing and enhancing the city park and devoting herself to garden clubs locally and to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs on the state and national levels.

History and Fiction

Waterville is justly proud of its Douglas County Historical Museum, established in 1959. The original building was a gift of William and Etta Schluenz in order to house some 4,500 rocks and minerals that William had collected over decades. It was expanded with three additions beginning in 1990. The museum, open to the public from late May through early October, houses and displays a wide variety of artifacts from the area’s Native American heritage and the history of the town and surrounding agricultural countryside, including the Columbia Tramway. Visitors can view such curiosities as the first meteorite discovered in Washington (1917), and a stuffed two-faced calf. The archives contain a host of photographs, newspaper files, and family papers essential for historical research.

In the summer of 2000 the museum hosted the “Barn Again” exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Waterville was one of only six Washington towns selected to receive this traveling exhibit that toured the nation for eight years. Sites were chosen for their agriculture heritage, the remaining presence of historic barns, and local commitment to their preservation. Each community selected was expected to augment the traveling exhibit with local displays and activities. In Waterville, as elsewhere, the Barn Again exhibit generated much community involvement and attracted visitors from a wide radius.

Waterville gained some notice in 1999 with the release of a fine movie The Basket, made by a Spokane company, North by Northwest Productions, and set in Waterville during World War I. The completely fictional plot revolves around the animosity aroused in the community, especially a family who lost a son to the war, by the arrival of two German war orphans in the home of the local pastor. Through the efforts of Mr. Conlon, a new teacher from Boston, the wounds are healed by means of an unlikely combination of basketball and German opera. Although most of the filming was done in Lamont near Spokane, the designation of Waterville as the setting is believable. However, because many of its residents are of German descent it seems unlikely that they would have reacted so negatively to German orphans in their midst.

Waterville Today

Today Waterville suffers from the proximity of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee with their big box stores, medical facilities, and other amenities. Fast-growing East Wenatchee even agitates periodically to replace more centrally located Waterville as the Douglas County seat. Waterville’s surrounding agriculture is highly mechanized, with huge farms long since having replaced most of the small, virtually self-sufficient family farms of the past. Ironically, a recent problem for the town is a water shortage, as the water table has lowered in recent years, making it necessary for residents to conserve.

Yet Waterville, with a population of 1,180, remains one of the most scenic, friendly, historically significant, and civic-minded communities in Washington, enthusiastically hosting its summer Waterville Days July 4, complete with demolition derby and fireworks and the North Central Washington District Fair and Rodeo. This county seat is still a most worthwhile stop on cross-state Highway 2, a charming remnant of the best of small-town America.

Douglas County courthouse, Waterville, 1910s

Sunset Highway, Pine Canyon near Waterville, ca. 1918

Catholic Church, Waterville, 1940s

Hospital, Waterville, 1950s

Barn west of Waterville, 1968

Photo by Werner Lenggenhager, Courtesy Washington State Digital Archives, State Library Photo Collection (Image No. 24642)

Douglas RD - History

One of the swimming spots at Douglas Creek

For our second installment of our new series “Travel Unkonventionell” we visited the Douglas Creek/Palisades Area. Located about 15 miles off of Highway 28, about half way between Wenatchee and Quincy, Palisades has long been a North Central Washington secret spot for camping, swimming, cliff jumping, and all other manners of rowdy behavior.

The view from above: Looking down into the town of Palisades

There are few regulations and no paid campsites here-it’s pretty wide open and user groups vary. This is the land of sage brush, sunshine, broken bottles, and bullets.

Douglas Creek is also the land of natural waterslides, lichen spotted basalt, and wide open desert a landscape in sharp contrast to those just 30 miles to the west in Leavenworth. The ability to jump in the car and drive from thickly forested mountains to the sun baked desert in less than an hour is one of the reasons we love to live where we do and this destination fits the bill.

One of the swimming spots at Douglas Creek

For our second installment of our new series “Travel Unkonventionelle” we visited the Douglas Creek/Palisades Area. Located about 15 miles off of Highway 28, about half way between Wenatchee and Quincy, Palisades has long been a North Central Washington secret spot for camping, swimming, cliff jumping, and all other manners of rowdy behavior.

The view from above: Looking down into the town of Palisades

There are no regulations or paid campsites here-it’s pretty wide open and user groups vary. This is the land of sage brush, sunshine, broken bottles, and bullets.

Douglas Creek is also the land of natural waterslides, lichen spotted basalt, and wide open desert a landscape in sharp contrast to those just 30 miles to the west in Leavenworth. The ability to jump in the car and drive from thickly forested mountains to the sun baked desert in less than an hour is one of the reasons we love to live where we do and this destination fits the bill.

While Palisades may not be so secret today, it is a beautiful attraction worthy of a visit for a good part of the year. The area is great not only for summer days in the sun but it’s also a beautiful spot for viewing wildlife, fishing, fourbying, and hiking. And, while Palisades will probably always enjoy a reputation as a getaway for partying, it’s relatively clean and well-kept thanks to the efforts of many people that have volunteered their time to clean it up. As always, remember that if you pack it in, pack it out.

The town of Palisades is located in a deep basalt canyon whose walls tower and form large mesas. According to the Douglas County PUD website, “It is now agreed upon that glacial flooding from Lake Missoula, between 10 and 15 thousand years ago, carved out the Moses Coulee and transformed the land on its way toward the Pacific Ocean. The flood water that broke free from immense glacial dams in Idaho and Montana is said to have traveled at a rate of flow 60 times greater than that of the Amazon River.”

Settlers arrived in the Palisades area around the turn of the century and began farming and growing fruit trees, a practice that continues today. Along with a handful of farms and old homesteads, Palisades also has an elementary school. Sadly, the general store which also housed the local post office is no longer open yet sits on the main road as a testament to the town’s history.

The now closed Palisades General Store

Douglas Creek can be accessed either by driving through Palisades, off of Highway 28, or from the opposite side, accessing the area from Waterville. We chose to go through Palisades, so we can’t vouch for the alternative and as always, we recommend checking local conditions if possible before heading out as the road has been closed in the past. The road coming from Palisades is primitive and involves a stream crossing, so go at your own risk and be prepared to take it slow if necessary.

Keep an eye out for wildlife when you visit Douglas Creek. On our trip, we spotted trout, marmots, magpies, a kestrel, and signs of beavers. Also known to frequent the area are porcupines, mule deer, rattlesnakes, and coyotes as well as a variety of birds and the occasional naked hippie.

One of the free campsites/hangouts at Douglas Creek

These pools were made for swimming and the cliffs are great for jumping, but do swim at your own risk and keep an eye on kids and dogs-this area requires some scrambling and wading depending on time of year.

Basalt on the side of the road

Directions from the north (Coming from Waterville):
Take State Highway 2 about eight miles east of Waterville and follow Road H southwest down Slack Canyon into Douglas Creek Creek canyon.

Directions from the south (Coming From Wenatchee):
Follow Highway 28 and turn onto Palisades Road and follow for about 10 miles. When the road turns east away from Douglas Creek, look for a left turn at the graveled Wagon Road. Take this road approximately drive 1.5 miles.

While Douglas Creek is located on BLM land, most of the land in the area and along the access road is private property, so please remember to stay on public lands and mind all no trespassing signs. And, a friendly wave as you pass by a local resident never hurts!

Douglas RD - History

The Gadsden Hotel was designed by famed architect Henry Trost who dominated the architectural scene in the Southwest and designed hundreds of buildings in El Paso, San Angelo, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Tucson. This grand hotel was named after the historically significant Gadsden Purchase A purchase of 30,000 square miles from Mexico made in 1853 for 10 million dollars, negotiated by James Gadsden, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The land purchase was to ensure territorial rights for a practical southern railroad route to the pacific coast.

The Gadsden opened for business in November 1907 the hotel soon became a meeting place for cattlemen, ranchers, miners, and businessmen. We can now only imagine how Arizona was before it was a state and at a time when Wyatt Earp, Geronimo and Pancho Villa rode rough shod over the West.

Unfortunately, on February 7th 1928, fire ripped through the hotel leaving nothing but the elevator car cabin, the marble stair case, and marble columns. Luckily, like much of Arizona’s old west figures and culture, it was just too tough to die. The hotel was immediately rebuilt using the same architect but on a grander scale with no expense spared.

At the time, not many hotels of the day could boast about having an electric lift to reach one of its 4 floors. Travelers were amazed at the modern accommodations and to this day the lift is one of the oldest manually operated elevators still in use west of the Mississippi. The hotel was also one of the first to feature individual bathrooms in all 160 air cooled rooms.

Now in the museum is the original 1929 telephone switchboard reportedly the first of its kind to be used in Arizona.

Upon entering the majestic lobby the first thing you notice is the impressive staircase made of white Italian marble and the massive pink marble columns. The column capitals are hand layered with 24k gold leafing. To add to its beauty, the window at the top of the grand staircase was designed and crafted by Ralph Baker. The stained-glass mural depicting the southwest desert runs a full 42 feet long and 6 feet tall. Baker studied under Louis Comfort Tiffany and his style is of Tiffany heritage. Encompassed by the mural is an original painting “Cave Creek Canyon” by famed artist Audley Dean Nichols. There is also stunning stained-glass skylights that bring in the golden Arizona light and illuminates the lobby.

Throughout the 20th century, the Gadsden was a happening place. Hollywood discovered the grande dame and many movies, TV shows and videos. By the 1980’s the hotel was showing her age, until successful North Dakota grain farmer and aviator, Hartman Brekhus and his wife purchased the hotel in 1988. Mr. Brekhus owned and operated the hotel up until 2016 when predeceased by his wife, he passed away, leaving the hotel for sale. Local couple Florencio and Anel Lopez have always admired the beauty and history of the Gadsden and understood its place in the community of Douglas. The Lopez couple decided to purchase the hotel in late 2016 and are currently upgrading and restoring the hotel to bring it back to the prestige it once had.

History of Douglas

The Douglas area was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century. Douglas was founded as an American smelter town for the prosperous copper mines in Bisbee, AZ. The town is named after mining pioneer Dr. James Douglas, and was incorporated in 1902. Two copper smelters operated at the site the Calumet and Arizona Company Smelter and the Copper Queen.

The area also has a history of cattle ranching and agriculture dating back to the 1800’s that continues to thrive to this day. The region also figures prominently in the history of the old west. Cochise County was home to many famous historical figures such as Cochise, Geronimo, John Slaughter, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and their stories played out across the tapestry and grasslands of Cochise County.

The San Bernardino Ranch is a site in the Southern San Bernardino Valley in the region of the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. It is significant for its association with the beginning of cattle ranching in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. The ranchland and valley are part of the headwater region of the Yaqui River.

In 1911, during the conflict known as the Border War, a United States Army camp was established at the ranch and was called Camp San Bernardino Ranch or the Slaughter Ranch Outpost. The site is now known as the Slaughter Ranch, for it once was the home of a famous Old West gunfighter, “Texas John Slaughter.” The compound includes the ranch house, wash house, ice house, granary, car shed and commissary. The car shed contains a fully restored 1915 Model T Ford.

On June 28, 1854, the valley became part of the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico. The original Mexican land grant of 73,240 acres, where the ranch sits today, was purchased by Ignacio Perez in 1822 for 90 pesos. He was chased from his land by Apaches in the 1830’s. In 1884 John Slaughter purchased 65,000 acres from Perez’s heirs for approximately $80,000. Two-thirds of his property lay in Mexico, with the remaining third in the Arizona Territory. An interesting note is that there are ruins on the property now owned by the US Fish & Wildlife Service where a Mormon employee of Slaughter’s built a home (called the Mormon House) straddling the US-Mexico border so he could keep a wife in the US and a wife in Mexico. The home has two rooms, one on each side of the border, with a breezeway connecting them.

The El Paso and Southwestern Railroad depot was an important train station. It transported copper to large manufacturing concerns in the east. The depot is considered one of the finest examples of railway architecture of the early 20th century. The building is now used for the Douglas police station and is just one of 400 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Douglas.

The Douglas Grand Theater was built in 1919 and was the largest theater between Los Angeles and San Antonio. Ginger Rogers, Anna Pavlova and John Phillip Sousa are some of the famous faces to have graced the theater’s stage. It also housed a tea room, candy store and barbershop in its glory days. Today the theater is undergoing a reconstruction, using private donations of money, supplies and labor.


Adult Basic Education (ABE). Many inmates earn their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) while incarcerated. Other programs include Mandated Adult Education and Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Work-Based Education (WBE) programs in conjunction with Cochise College which include: Building Construction Technology, Computer Technology, Automotive Technology, and AC Refrigeration certification, Electronics. Inmates may work towards an Associates Degree through classes offered by Cochise College.

Point Douglas Superior Military Road

On July 18, 1850 Congress approved funding, through the Minnesota Road Act, to build a road from Point Douglas, MN to Superior, WI. This road along with four other roads outlined in the Minnesota Road Act were designed with a dual edged purpose to provide transportation and communication corridors for the military in the new frontier as well as stimulate settlement by providing access points to previously unreachable areas of settlement along the eastern part of the state. The most important of these roads was the Point Douglas Superior Military

Road which connected the head of navigation on the Great Lakes with the head of navigation on the Mississippi River. This overland route between two of the most prominent transportation modes in the country had obvious and numerous advantages. “Editors in St. Paul, St. Anthony, and Stillwater hammered incessantly on the theme that a good road between the head of navigation on the Mississippi and the head of navigation on the Great Lakes would make St. Paul the chief supply point for the entire Northwest.”(Singley, 1967, 233)

On February 4 th , 1850 Henry Hastings Sibley submitted the first draft of the Minnesota Road Act to congress which among other routes included the Point Douglas Superior Road (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1858). Based on preliminary estimates the appropriation request was set at $15,000. Once amendments were made and the bill was passed formal surveying of the route began. The United States Army appointed Lt. James H. Simpson who was with the Corps of Topographical Engineers in charge of building the Minnesota roads. Simpson, born in New Jersey in 1813, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1832. It was then that he was assigned to the Third Artillery through the Second Seminole War. In 1838, with the creation of the U.S. Army’s Topographical Engineers Department, Lt. Simpson became one of the first officers to be transferred. Between the years of 1838-1850 he was part of numerous surveying and construction projects for the U.S. Army, ranging from harbor construction on Lake Eerie to road construction in Florida, and land surveying in New Mexico. He even served as the Chief Topographical Engineer for the Department of New Mexico for a year. After six months of sick leave, in 1851 he was transferred to St. Paul, MN and began the overseeing the road construction throughout the territory. Acting more in a supervisory capacity Simpson appointed his assistant, Josiah Knauer, as the primary surveyor of the route with efforts beginning in the summer and fall of 1851. The original route runs on the west side of the St. Croix River from its beginning in Point Douglas for roughly seventy-eight miles within a mile or two from its banks.

Point Douglas Superior Road Bridge as viewed from the east. (Photo From wikipedia.org)

At the point where it reaches the Sunrise River the road was planned to cut northwest to the Snake River for roughly twenty-four miles where it would cross just below Lake Pokegoma. It would then run northeast to the Kettle River for about forty miles, keeping the same course it would complete its run at the falls or rapids of the St. Louis River in close to fifty miles more. After four major changes were made to the plan the final as traveled route was reported to be 178 miles. Based on the terrain report from Lt. Simpson the area generally transitioned from open rolling prairie lands in the south to a mixed brush/prairie section further north which gave way to dense timbers and expansive sections of swamps and Tamarac marshes within the estuary regions of the St. Louis River.

St. Louis River Estuary with Superior Head of Navigation in Background. (Photo From images.publicradio.org)

Based on the surveyed route and the environmental challenges Lt. Simpson estimated that the project cost would be in excess of $73,000 (Larsen, 1940). In 1858 Minnesota became a state and the responsibility of the road, now over two-thirds complete, was transferred to it. Although the federal funding had mostly dried up, through a number of other subsequent appropriations and grants construction was continued. Sibley kept appealing Congress for more funding as the project had been a federal endeavor prior to Minnesota’s statehood, but it was soon realized that previous estimates had been far too low. The state of Minnesota, now with little or no funds left to contribute to the project, placed a cap on appropriations. This left the grand total spent at $120, 600 and the status of the road as permanently unfinished although over two-thirds of it had been substantially completed.

Although it remained unfinished the road did for the most part achieve its desired affect as it received heavy use and was a crucial link within the internal transportation system of Minnesota. It allowed pioneers to settle regions that were previously unattainable and also made it possible for mail service to exist in these remote locations. The completion of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad line connection from St. Paul to Duluth, in 1870, effectively killed the use of the old road. However, many sections of the road are still in use today locally, and some trail sections have even received recognition and protection as historic landmarks. The Stone Bridge, seen in the picture above, was built in 1863 as the crossing point over Brown’s Creek. Prior to its construction traveler’s had to ford the creek over a bridge of field stone. When the Washington County Board approved a $500 contract to build the bridge, two local builders, Michael Hanley and Frederick Curtis, won the bid. Their design was to build a single-arched span of 20 feet and a width of 17 feet out of locally quarried limestone (Anderson, 2014). To their misfortune, upon completion of construction the county commissioners found that the bridge did not meet the requirements of the contract and the men were never paid for their work. Despite this the bridge continued to be used until 1891 when an updated bridge was built 200 feet east of the original. The original bridge is said to be the oldest still standing in Minnesota and is exemplified as a fine specimen of stone engineering. In 1975 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (National Park Service, 1974).

Douglas RD - History

Granite Bay, CA 95746: A Great Place to Live, Work & Play

The unincorporated Placer County community of Granite Bay had a population of about 20,000 residents at the 2000 census and covers an area of approximately 25 square miles. It is situated on the north shore of Folsom Lake about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento on the eastern edge of the Sacramento Valley at the base of the Sierra foothills.

The community boasts of a very high quality of life due to its great location, sound community plan, first rate schools, numerous churches, a low crime rate and excellent recreation opportunities. The community is home to some of the Sacramento areas finest and most exclusive homes.

Typically, summers are hot and dry, while winters are cool and rainy. Summers average high temperatures are about 95 degrees but with the usual cooling evening breezes average summer lows drop to about 60 degrees. Average temperatures in the winter range from highs of about 54 to lows near 40 degrees with an occasional frost. Annual rainfall averages near 25 inches per season, falling predominantly in the winter months.

The community was officially recognized as "Granite Bay" in 1987. As an unincorporated community, the Placer County Board of Supervisors is the local governing body, and a local Municipal Advisory Council provides input and advice to the Supervisors.

1850s & Beyond

Granite Bay's roots lead back to the early 1850's, when gold miners first settled the banks of the American River. According to retired Park Ranger Dave McGrath there were 37 gold mining settlements along both sides of the River.

In its earliest beginnings, it was known as "Granite Bar", a small mining camp just below Horseshoe Bar. The North Fork Ditch, built by the Natoma Company between 1852 and 1954, not only allowed miners to surface mine gold, it continued to supply water to the area and attracted settlers who planted olive and almond orchards. When the lake is low you can still find rows of stumps straight out from the Granite Bay boat launch ramp. Remains of the ditch can still be seen in places along the trail leading up the lake from Horseshoe Bar and along the water's edge above the dam at low lake level. The sides of the ditch were concreted in 1925, which has helped to preserve its visibility.

Vivian Rasmussen recalled that what was is now called Auburn-Folsom Road was originally called Auburn-Sacramento Road. The road was built in 1850 to allow miners to travel back and forth with supplies. Whiskey Bar, Horseshoe Bar, and Rattlesnake Bar Roads were all established to connect the various settlements to the bar or to the main road. Granite Bar, later to be known as Granite Bay was named for the granite rock quarried from its banks and used as rip-rap in the wing dams of Folsom Dam.

Cattle ranchers also took advantage of availability of water and grassy slopes. "There were two major cattle ranges when I moved here in 1956" stated H.T.Newberry, a resident of Skyway. Mooney was one and Grant Bender was the other. "A big chunk of their property was condemned by the government so they could fill the lake" he explained. The remainder of the ranches were subdivided and sold off to people moving into the area.

Granite Bay Vista, an early subdivision by John Mercurio and Louis Gavino, probably helped make the name popular according to Niel Lester, who built a home in the tract with her husband in 1962. Things have changed, naturally said Lester. Douglas Blvd. used to be called Rocky Ridge Road east of Sunrise Blvd.. For most newcomers, Rocky Ridge has no significance since most of the ridge has been demolished with the widening and development along Douglas Blvd. Granite Bay didn't become the official name of the area until July 28, 1987. Until then the expanding housing developments along this section of the lake were just as apt to be referred to as Folsom Lake and were included in Roseville's sphere of influence out to Barton Road for Government Planning purposes.

Residents of the area felt the goal and lifestyle of Roseville was not consistent with their own and placed the proposition before the County Board of Supervisors to be recognized as the unincorporated community of Granite Bay. Then Assemblyman, Tim Leslie, issued a proclamentation and with County Supervisor's approval the community became officially known as Granite Bay.

Roseville sphere of influence has subsequently been withdrawn to Sierra College Blvd.


Auburn-Folsom Road has a long and unique history. Starting out as little more than ox-cart tracks linking 49'er mining claims along the American River in the 1800s, it served as a supply line between Auburn and Folsom. It also served to enrich the pockets of bandits laying in wait to relieve travelers of their belongings. The most brazen and famous robber along the stretch was known as "Rattlesnake Dick". Nicknamed not so much for being sneaky, but for the fact that he had once been an honest gold miner at Rattlesnake Bar before turning outlaw and plying his trade along the Auburn-Folsom trail. Later, a spur of the Central Pacific Railroad paralleled the road, connecting Auburn to Folsom in 1862. The Spur was discontinued a few years later. When the railroad workers began to pull up the rails, locals were so incensed shooting broke out at the corner of what is now Moss Lane and Auburn-Folsom Rd.


Before it was Granite Bay, it was called Allen's District. Named after Hiram B. Allen, whose family was one of the families that lived in the area along with the Cavitt's and the Stallman's in the 1800's. The Cavitts lived at the west end of the road and the Stallmans lived at the east end, and that road is known today as Cavitt Stallman Rd. Today, Shelborne Estates occupies part of the old 420 acre Allen ranch. Plum, peach, and pear orchards were the agricultural mainstays. Olives were a major crop at the ranch on the road now known as Olive Ranch Rd. and remnants of the olive trees are today still prominent north of Douglas Blvd. Allen's District featured one of the first real estate ventures in the area called the Rosedale Colony, where land was selling for $50 an acre.


I have lived in Lakeland off Douglas since 1962. Douglas was a 2 lane road and it was known as Rocky Ridge Road. Our mail was delivered from the Roseville Post Office and our zip code was 95678. There were no super markets. There was a small grocery and bait shop located next to where the boat marina is on Douglas east of Auburn-Folsom road. Whispering Pines restaurant was here on Auburn-Folsom road at that time and later there was the Bull Pit restaurant on Douglas where NAPA is now. A liquor store was next door. Later there was 7-Eleven in the same complex as well as a beauty salon, barber shop, and Laundromat. Now all gone.

Watch the video: 514 Douglas Avenue, Toronto (June 2022).


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