Garfield County Heritage is a project of Washington Rural Heritage, a collection of historically significant materials residing in libraries, heritage institutions, and private collections throughout Washington State. The collection includes photographs, documents, and artifacts which tell the stories of Washington's small and rural communities.
If you have corrections or additional details regarding records in the collection, please use the digital collection's public comments feature, or contact the Denny Ashby Library directly to update the information.
At one time there were five distinct communities in Garfield County, Washington, not including the city of Pomeroy. In 2010-2011, the Denny Ashby Library worked with the Garfield County Museum and the community at large to gather a collection of photos revealing the towns of Columbia Center, Gould City, Mayview, Pataha City, and Peola. While many local residents had heard of the early towns of Garfield County, very few had seen photos showing what these towns looked like or documenting the social life that once existed in places that, for the most part, have reverted to open fields and grassland. This collection provides a glimpse into the varied and culturally rich past of Garfield County's earliest communities.
This collection is comprised of photos, objects, documents, and agricultural machinery and implements held by the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum in Pomeroy, WA. The museum was formed in 2004 by eight locals who believed strongly in the importance of preserving the history of agriculture in the area, as agriculture is a vital part of the local economy and has influenced the region's development and society in many ways. The 8,600-square-foot museum displays farm machinery, equipment, horse-drawn implements, tractors, engines, and other machinery dating from the late 1800s through the 1950s.
In 2009-2010, the Denny Ashby Library worked to compile a comprehensive pictorial collection of early rural schoolhouses throughout Garfield County, Washington. At one time there were over 47 schools in the area, and a significant portion of Garfield County's elderly population attended these schools, which were phased out in the mid-1940s. The material in the collection comes from a variety of sources including the Garfield County Museum (Pomeroy, WA), private collections of community members, and the collection of local photographer Lynn Leaverton. Mr. Leaverton, a local historian and retired school teacher, was inspired a number of years ago to collect photographs and information about the many schoolhouses scattered throughout Garfield County. His 43 images date to 2007, and depict schoolhouses in various states of repair, as well as the sites on which schoolhouses once stood. These present-day images document a vanishing facet of early community life in Garfield County, and underscore the importance of preserving information about these schools before the last of them fall to the ground and the people who have first-hand knowledge of them are gone.
This collection highlights two tramway systems used by early farmers of Garfield County to address a unique geographic obstacle—moving grain (barley and wheat) from the farmlands at the top of 1,800-foot-high, nearly vertical bluffs, down to the Snake River for transport by steamer. By the turn of the 20th century, a number of tramway systems had been constructed and refined to address this problem. The Judkins Tramway, a system which used aerial cables and buckets, was built in 1893 and ended operation in 1929. The Mayview Tramway was a rail-based system, and operated from 1890 to 1942. To learn more about how these systems operated, read this account by the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum.
Some of the items in the Garfield County Heritage collection are under protection of copyright. Please contact the holding institution to inquire about necessary permissions regarding the use of items in this collection.
By the use of these digital images and texts, users agree to the following:
View the Washington Rural Heritage Rights & Use Statement for additional information.
The Denny Ashby Library is located in Pomeroy, Washington, the only city in Garfield County. It is approximately 80 miles east of Walla Walla and beautifully situated between the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse and the Blue Mountains. The library opened in 1929 after Mary Ashby deeded the building to the city and asked that it be used as a library and named in the honor of her son, who died tragically as a young man. Garfield County began operating the library in 1935, and the library continues to serve all 2,400 residents of the county.
The Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum preserves Eastern Washington's rich farming tradition, educates youth about agriculture, and creates a space for children, parents, and grandparents alike to congregate and embrace a tradition of small-town rural life.
856 Arlington Street
Pomeroy, WA 99347-0670
Library image courtesy of Bettie Towner.
Garfield County Fairgrounds
99 Fairgrounds Road
Pomeroy, WA 99347