Walla Walla Things to Do

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    FORT WALLA WALLA MUSEUM

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Just west of the Veterans Administration Medical Complex is the Fort Walla Walla Museum. The museum is devoted not only to the history of the fort but of the surrounding region. Several open-air exhibits further your understanding of Wall Walla. Below the museum on the south side is the old Fort Walla Walla Cemetery. On the west side of the cemetery are a couple of French 155 mm cannons from World War I. These were of the type used by men of the 146th Field Artillery (National Guard), a unit that trained initially here at the old fort.

    Fort Walla Walla Museum A French 155mm gun from WWI French 155mm artillery pieces from WWI Tablet explains history of the guns here in park
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    FORT WALLA WALLA

    by mtncorg Updated Oct 21, 2014

    This is the fourth fort to go by this name. The first fort was a fur-trading post opened by the North West Company at the confluence of the Walla Walla and Columbia Rivers. Established in 1818, the post ran until it was abandoned and burnt down during the 1855 Yakima War. A steamboat landing settlement sprang up a few years later, but the remains are now all under the waters backed up from the McNary Dam some miles further down the Columbia.

    The 9th US Infantry was ordered to the Northwest with the onset of hostilities with the Yakima Indians and the regiment arrived in 1856 under the command of Colonel George Wright. The regiment was split up to man different posts throughout the Northwest with headquarters being set up at Fort Dalles, Oregon. The 9th U.S. was soon augmented by several companies of the 1st U.S. Dragoons.

    Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe established the second Fort Walla Walla on Mill Creek some seven miles east of the present downtown in October 1856, but that fort was quickly abandoned after a month and a new fort was set up in what is today downtown – 1st and Main Streets. Nothing remains of either of these two forts. The fourth fort was built between 1857-1858 and eventually grew to encompass 640 acres.

    The 9th and 1st Dragoons continued to operate out of the fort until they were recalled to the East at the onset of the Civil War. Vacant for a brief period, volunteers from the 1st Oregon Cavalry – six companies –took up the post in June 1862. Two companies of the 1st Washington Territorial Infantry also came along. All of the volunteers were gone by 1866 and the fort was used as a depot for the next few years while Congress seriously considered closing it altogether.

    The onset of the Modoc War along the border of Oregon and California brought life back to the fort. Four companies/troops of the 1st U.S. Cavalry and two companies of the 21st U.S. Infantry took up residence, repairing and restoring the old fort. The almost 300 men transformed the fort into the largest post in Washington Territory.

    The officers’ quarters on the south side of the parade ground are among the oldest buildings dating to 1858. The commanding officer quarters came along later in 1877 while to two large enlisted-mens’ barracks on the opposite side of the parade ground from the officers’ quarters date from 1906 – they are Veterans Administration medical clinics today.

    Troops rotated in and out of Fort Walla Walla over the latter part of the 19th century and early 1900’s. The 1st Cavalry and 21st Infantry left for Nebraska in 1884. Elements of the 4th Cavalry – 1890 – came here after capturing Geronimo in 1886 in the Southwest. They were here until 1898 when they were sent to the Philippines. The 2nd Cavalry followed by the 6th Cavalry rotated in for short year-long stints before four troops of the 9th Cavalry – a Buffalo soldier unit consisting of 16 white officers and 375 black soldiers – returned here from the Philippines in 1902. That unit was disbanded in 1905 but was replaced by the 14th Cavalry, also a Buffalo soldier regiment. The 14th served until 1908 and shortly after that, the fort was officially closed 28 September 1910. Two batteries of the 146th Field Artillery (National Guard) did their initial training here in 1918. The commander, Major Paul Weyrauch, had earlier served here as a lieutenant in 1904.

    Following World War I, the Veterans Administration took over the fort converting it first into a tuberculosis hospital for veterans from the Northwest. In 1959, the facility was expanded into a general medical hospital with outpatient facilities coming online in 1990.
    In the center of the parade ground is a statue of Jonathan Wainwright. He was born here at the fort in 1883 while his father served here as a lieutenant. Jonathan would eventually attain general rank and served as the American commander in the Philippines after MacArthur was ordered out in early 1942. Wainwright was forced to surrender on Corregidor in June of that year and he spent the rest of the war in Japanese prison camps. MacArthur had him present on the U.S.S. Missouri when the Japanese surrendered ending World War II in 1945. Wainwright made a dramatic return to his hometown in November 1945 being honored with a multitude of events, The Veterans Administration complex was renamed in Wainwright’s honor in 1996.

    Officers' Quarters Commanding Officer's Home from the old fort Officers' Quarters from the Parade Ground Jonathan Wainwright stands front and center One of the enlisted barracks from late fort era
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    PALOUSE FALLS

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    About an hour to the north of Walla Walla is one of the most magnificent waterfalls of the Northwest. Palouse Falls – 198 feet high – has recently been designated as the official waterfall of Washington State – take that Snoqualmie! The drive north through the towns of Waitsburg and Dayton in the Touchet Valley and Starbuck in the Tucannon is to witness the Palouse Country at its best. Verdant green in springtime and golden yellow in the fall, the rolling hills give way to lava-cliffed canyons along the Snake River.

    You cross the Snake at what used to be Lyon’s Ferry, the waters of the Snake now backed up above the old ferry crossing by the Lower Monumental Dam. The crossing is at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. The canyon coming in from the north is that of the Palouse. From the crossing, you ascend the Snake canyon walls and come out onto a vast desert plain. A few miles on a short gravel road leads you to the Palouse Falls State Park. The park has a day fee of $10 and offers a few simple camping sites – water off already in early October when we last visited – as well as picnic areas and interpretive tablets explaining the Ice Age creation of the canyon and falls. A couple of short trails take you to overlooks and one takes you a short ways to the north to view the Little Palouse Falls.

    Early in the season, impressive amounts of water roar over the cataract. Late in the summer and fall, the water levels drop considerably. A special time to visit would be in winter – see GuthrieColin’s page for such a visit.

    Another special feature of a spring visit is the many yellow-bellied marmots seen scampering about along the cliff ledges.

    Palouse Falls is also the site of the highest successful kayak run. You can capture the ride on Youtube. Back downriver near Lyon’s Ferry is a cave where human remains from over 10,000 years of age have been located.

    Palouse Falls in the late springtime Full force of the Palouse Palouse Falls in October Early fall - Little Palouse Falls Yellow-bellied marmot stands watch in the Palouse
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    WHITMAN MISSION: THE GRAVES

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Tomahos, a Cayuse chief, led a group of warriors into the mission on 29 November 1847 killing the Whitmans and twelve others – mostly children. They burnt most of the mission buildings and took another 50 people captive – mostly women and children. These captives were ransomed a month later by Peter Skene Ogden of Hudson’s Bay Company. As a result of the killings, the Protestant missions were all closed and settlers from the Willamette Valley declared war. The war was a sporadic affair that lasted until 1855. The Cayuse ended up losing most of the lands that they used to roam on and they joined the Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes on the Umatilla Reservation east of Pendleton.

    A small cemetery here at the mission dates back to 1836. The victims of the 1847 massacre are honored in the Great Grave though it is not clear whether all of the bodies are actually here or nearby. There are others buried here whose tombstones are gone.

    Site of the Whitman's graves The Great Grave Those buried within the Great Grave
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    WHITMAN MISSION: THE MONUMENT

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Atop a small knoll overlooking the mission site and the Walla Walla Valley is a large monument that was erected on the 50th anniversary of the Whitman’s death – 1897. The increase in white emigration through the Native American lands had a big effect upon the relationships between the Cayuse and the mission. The Cayuse saw their way of life threatened and grew uneasy with time. The tipping point was an outbreak of measles in 1847 spread by emigrants. The Cayuse, without natural immunity, were devastated. Whitman tried vainly to help with medicine, but it only seemed to help the white children while the Cayuse children continued to die. The Cayuse believed Whitman was poisoning them.

    Monument to the Whitmans Monument atop knoll overlooking old mission
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    WHITMAN MISSION: OREGON TRAIL

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Word reached the American Board of Foreign Missions in 1842 of Indian indifference to the religious message and with a general lack of funds coming in; the decision was made to close the Whitman and Spaulding missions. Whitman – along with Asa Lovejoy – journeyed back to the East through in midwinter leaving the mission 3 October 1842 and arriving in St Louis 9 March 1843. He was able to convince the Board to rethink their decision and the mission funding stayed in place.

    Returning west, Whitman served as a guide and physician to a wagon train following a 2,000 mile long route that became the Oregon Trail. One such train had stopped at the mission the year before. The main trail would reroute further south after 1844, but occasional travelers would still use this part of the trail going past the mission.

    Ruts of Oregon Trail ran right by the mission Mission site lying along the Oregon Trail
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    WHITMAN MISSION: HOUSE SITE

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Slowly after 1836, the mission enlarged. A large home was erected to not only house the Whitmans, but to serve as a way station for other missionaries who came out to begin their missions. There was a blacksmith shop, a gristmill, as well as a sawmill. The old millpond has been restored – look closely for sunning turtles. Another home also served as an emigrant house for travelers. A short path south from the Visitor Center takes past the site of the old mission.

    Tablet shows how mission used to look Turtles sunning in the restored mill pond Restored foundations of mission buildings
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    WHITMAN MISSION NATIONAL MONUMENT

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Marcus Whitman was involved in early attempts by Protestant churches in the eastern U.S. to bring their version of Christian culture to the Native Americans of the Oregon Country. Following an exploratory journey to the west in 1835 sent out by the American Board of Foreign Missions – made up of several different Protestant denominations, Whitman and his wife Narcissa – he married her just before coming out west the second time – along with Henry Spaulding and his wife Eliza journeying out first to Fort Vancouver and then up the Columbia to select their respective mission sites.

    Here, in late 1836, the Whitmans opened their mission among the Cayuse while the Spauldings ventured further east to open a mission amongst the Nez Perce at Lawai.

    All explorations start at the Visitor Center where the story of the Whitmans, their mission and the end are retold.

    Overview of the mission - visitor center on right
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    WINERIES

    by mtncorg Written Oct 21, 2014

    Walla Walla has gone through several changes since the town’s inception in 1858. A military town and a supply center for miners reaching out into the mountains of central Idaho – the town was considered as a potential capital for Washington at one point. Whitman College and, later, the Washington State Penitentiary gave some economic stability to the town. But Walla Walla slumbered along for many years during the 20th century.

    In the middle 1980’s, locals began developing a wine industry which has since mushroomed into an over $100 million dollar affair. There are some 66 wineries listed in the Walla Walla Wine Guide but there are others closed to the public which are not included – including some of the area’s most exclusive.

    Many wineries have tasting rooms downtown and at the airport on the northeast side of town. Other wineries have tasting rooms on the west edge of town and in nearby Lowden – 12 miles to the west. Here, you will find Woodward Canyon, one of the wine pioneers in the area. To the south of Walla Walla, in an area overlapping into Oregon, is another group of wineries set out amongst the beautiful setting of the Blue Mountains to the east.

    Walla Walla wineries are known mostly for their red wines. Long hot summers – like the rest of eastern Washington and Oregon – along with not-too-severe winters and a desert-like rainfall combine to give the grapes solid structure for the red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot and syrah are at the top of the reds made here, but there are a host of other grapes grown and made into wine here, as well.

    The main grape-growing regions are south of town with large areas being planted in Oregon to the southwest. While acreage devoted to grape production is ever-increasing, there are more wineries here than grapes. Much of the fruit comes from vineyards further to the west on the Columbia Plateau.

    Woodward Canyon tasting room in near Lowden Francia Winery just across border in Oregon Northstar Winery - owned by St Michelle Amavi Winery south of town Zerba Winery in Milton-Freewater, Oregon
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    aMaurice Cellars

    by karenincalifornia Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    After leaving the drunken SUV revelers at Walla Walla Vintners, we went next door to aMaurice cellars. What a calming change of pace! The winemaker, Anna, was pouring the wine, and she was delightful. We learned much about their wines and her experience as we were sampling aMaurice's wonderful selection. The wines were excellent. We noticed later that they were available at the best Walla Walla restaurants.

    aMaurice Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington
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    Whitman Mission National Historic Site

    by karenincalifornia Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Whitman Mission National Historic Site is a moving memorial of the life of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman from the time they established a mission in 1836 to the time they were killed by the Cayuse tribe members in 1847. They arrived with what they considered good intentions - help improve the lives of the natives and help settlers moving west along the Oregon Trail. In 1836, the first year the Whitmans established their home here, there were 25 settlers passing through. By 1847, the number reached 5000 in one year.

    Along with the settlers came diseases, for which the native Cayuse had no natural immunities. In the last year, a measles outbreak killed many of them including children. The Cayuse couldn't understand why the settlers seemed to fight off the disease, but the measles killed their children. Certain that the Whitmans were poisoning the Cayuse, tribe members murdered the Whitmans on Novemer 29, 1847.

    The Mission has an indoor museum and an outdoor exhibit. All the original mission buildings are gone, but you can walk along a pathway, see the outlines of the buildings in the ground and read short descriptions of the key events. The memorial to the Whitmans is located on a hill which can be visited by a short walk and climb.

    Whitman Mission National Historic Site
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    Wineries / Tasting Rooms in Town

    by Sunshine64 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    While it's fun to visit the wineries in the rural areas around Walla Walla, if you're not up for all the driving, several wineries have tasting rooms in town.

    Amavi has good wines, and there's a good story about the building. It's located at 635 N. 13th Avenue.

    Canoe Ridge is nearby, located at 1102 W. Cherry Street. Good wine, and they have free bite-sized Scharffen-Berger chocolates in various varieties.

    Whittman Cellars is just down the street from Canoe Ridge - it's an easy walk between the 3. The people were extremely friendly and the wine was delicious - so much so that several of us joined their wine club. I hope that didn't have to do with the fact that it was our last winery, and we were more than a little sauced.

    The other in-town winery we visited was Fogeron Cellars, which was good, interesting, and had friendly service. I think everyone bought at Fogeron. It's located at 33 West Birch St. - a little further away from the 1st 3.

    Those are only 4 of the in-town wineries in Walla Walla. There are 12 more!

    Barrells at Whitman Cellars Amavi Canoe Ridge Tasting Room
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    Basel Cellars Winery

    by karenincalifornia Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    The tasting rooms at the wineries in Walla Walla run the gamut in terms of money that is put into them. Some are simple huts, while some like Basel Cellars are elaborate estates exuding great wealth. Whether or not you are into wines, just visiting this winery is a trip. It is located in a former mansion of a wireless telecommunications executive. The grounds are gorgeous with sweeping views from the tasting room. The wines are good, too!

    Basel Cellars Estate, Walla Walla, WA Basel Cellars vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington
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    Zerba Cellars

    by karenincalifornia Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    Zerba has received quite a few accolades, so we dropped in for a taste (or two). The accolades were well earned. The wines were very good and Zerba makes a number of varietals. We met the owner and she let us taste most of what they had. They soon will be opening up their cute little log cabin tasting room. Look for it just south of the border.

    Zerba Cellars, Oregon Zerba tasting room, Oregon
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    Fort Walla Walla Museum

    by karenincalifornia Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    Fort Walla Walla isn't really a Fort. It's a museum of the history of Walla Walla. It's actually a good little museum with a lot of artifacts and antiques from Walla Walla going back about 200 years. The amount of care and attention to detail is quite impressive. It also contained a "village" - small buildings from an era long past - preserved and moved to this location. Visitors will definitely get a good idea of life in Walla Walla from its birth in the mid 1800's to the beginning of its second century in the mid 1900's.

    Being a farming community, one would not be surprised that many of the exhibits center around farming. There is even a barbed wire exhibit. I've never seen a barbed wire exhibit before. I also had no idea that several patents were granted on different kinds of barbed wire. Up until now, I always considered barbed wire as being a nuisance that prevented me from exploring a part of the world on a hike.

    Barbed wire exhibit at Fort Walla Walla Museium Fort Walla Walla Museum grounds
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