Friday, August 26, 2005

Keller Ferry, Colville Rez

One of the realities of living where we do is the Keller, Ferry.

When the Grand Coulee Dam was built it backed up the Columbia River and created the 15o mile long reservoir, Lake Roosevelt, named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Many small towns and ranches were drowned and had to be relocated. What was once a paradise of orchards and free flowing river abundant in 80 lb salmon, it is now a quiet lake with attendant problems of pollution from run off and mine wastes. The town of Keller itself was deluged. A few buildings were moved. When the lake is drawn down you can still see old foundations and road beds.

An extension of Hwy 21, the Keller Ferry is a free ferry that operates from 6 in the morning to midnight. Many is the time we have hurried to catch the last ferry after a high school wrestling match or trip to Spokane. My boys figured out that they had spent over 3000 hours each on the hour and a half bus ride to Wilbur. Because they lettered in 3 sports a year their day was very long, usually from 6 in the morning to 7 at night. After such a schedule, life outside is going to be a snap. They are both off to college now. One in Montana and the other in N. Dakota on wrestling scholarships. They had to go back east because Washington gave up wrestling for girls sports. What a shame but that may change as girls are starting to be interested in the sport.

This view is from the reservation looking south towards the wheat country of Lincoln County, the bread basket of the world. This year farmers got as much as 80 bushels per acre on dryland farming. Incredible!

The hills are the Keller Grade. It's a pretty windy road that climbs more than 1000'. The view from the top looks south across flat wheat land and north to the forests and mountains of the Colville reservation. I'm sure I will paint the view from the top someday. But first I plan to go a little upstream and do a painting of Whitestone in the Hellgate area. It's a wild looking landscape of basalt cliffs and long horizons.


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