Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fishing, Kayaking, and Walking at Carlisle Lake

Back Camera

Kayaking on Carlisle Lake

It’s not much of a lake. It’s only about 22 acres. Carlisle Lake used to be a mill pond for the Carlisle Lumber Company. The mill shut down in 1942 but the smoke stack from the mill is still standing on the site. It’s quite the landmark. David was very excited when we flew over it one day on our way back from Las Vegas because he could see the smokestack from the jet.

The lake has been stocked with trout since 1953, and Coho Salmon are raised in pens in the lake. It is a cute little lake, and perfect for a quick afternoon fishing trip or kayaking. We can stick our kayaks in the back of the pickup and be there in 20 minutes, then spend a few leisurely hours kayaking from one end to the other while Josh does catch-and-release fishing. Most of the fish that we have caught are small and bony but some people have caught larger fish.

Back Camera

Interesting Things in Carlisle Lake (yes, we put it gently back)

There is a trail going all the way around the lake and people have made trails down to the water so you can fish from the bank and you don’t need a boat. It’s a great lake to take little kids to since it’s not only easy for them to fish, you can run them on the trail around the lake and tire them out.

Onalaska Alliance, a non-profit group, was formed to restore the lake and surrounding area.  The previous owners, the Southwest Washington Development Association, donated the land, which measures 72 acres, to the group. The Alliance intends to develop it for better recreational use as well as an environmental education aid. This past summer they received a grant and paved the parking lot. It’s a fabulous upgrade because it used to be a pothole-filled gravel and dirt mess. They now plan to clean up the trail around the park. Future plans include a fishing dock and wheelchair accessibility.

Back Camera

David and Josh

Getting there: Take exit 71 off of I-5 and head east on Hwy. 508 for about eight miles. When you see the grocery store/gas station on your left you will take a left on the street right before the store. The street will take you about 2-3 blocks north and you will end up in the parking lot at Carlisle Lake. You can also look for the smokestack as you get into town.

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Fishing, Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wobbly War (Also Known as The Centralia Massacre)


November 11, 1919. When I first moved to the Centralia, Washington area in 1985 I heard whisperings of something that happened on this date. But details were sparse. I was told people still didn’t talk about it and that I shouldn’t ask about it. There were still local citizens who were very bitter and angry over what happened that day.

Finally, as time wore on, people wanted both sides of the story told:

On November 11, 1919 an Armistice Day parade was held in Centralia. Marching in the parade were many WWI veterans and members of the American Legion and they didn’t particularly like the “Wobblies” as they were called. These were members of a union called the Industrial Workers of the World and they were demonized quite severely in many areas of society, as they were seen as leading America toward a communist state. Across the country they had experienced their meeting halls and members attacked.

Elmer Smith, the local lawyer for the Wobblies, told them they had the right to defend their property. They took it to mean that they could be fully armed and ready for conflict so they placed several of their men around town in strategic areas.

What happened next is still unclear and controversial. Some say the Wobblies fired the first shot killing the first man. Others say the Legionnaires in the parade rushed the hall. Shots were fired killing three Legionnaires and wounding three. Wobblies were rounded up, arrested and taken to jail. Westley Everest was identified as the man who fired the first shot. He was captured by a vigilante mob and taken to the town jail where he was nearly hanged before the parade marshall talked them out of it.

Later that day, a large group of men gathered and were sworn in as deputies to round up anyone even suspected of being an IWW member. As they went around town arresting men, someone cut the lights. Seizing the opportunity, vigilantes broke into the jail and dragged Everest out of the jail. He got loose and headed towards the Chehalis River but couldn’t cross it because it was flowing too swiftly. The vigilantes caught up to him and dragged him to the bridge over the Chehalis River and hanged him, where his body stayed until the next day.

The vigilantes intended to kidnap other men out of the jail but luckily were talked out of it long enough for the National Guard to arrive and restore order in the town. In the end, eight men were arrested and charged, later being freed. But the bitter feelings remained for decades in this little town where everyone knows everyone else and the facts were debated on both sides.

A statue was later erected in Washington Park to the Legionnaires who died that day. Then in 1999 a group commissioned artist/activist Mike Alewitz to paint a mural reflecting the Wobbly side of the story. It is located in the old Elks lodge, now an antique store and restaurant, right across the street from the park. The mural is called “The Resurrection of Westley Everest.” Its main feature is a man portrayed to be Everest with his arms raised. However, here are a lot of other symbols present in the mural which are not obvious. It took a lot of research to finally find one article that told what the symbols mean. In an article by Mary L. Stough, Librarian, she says:

“Everest is the focal figure of the mural. He is drawn symbolically with his arms raised triumphantly, dressed half worker in overalls and half veteran in a World War I uniform. Black cats are shown as the Wobbly symbol of defiance; a pig representing the profiteers of war is leaning on bags of gold. Angels on the top of the mural are hanging from a long saw-the “misery whip” of the loggers-and below that is a pie denoting “pie in the sky,” the happiness that workers could look forward to when they died.

In the far left of the mural stands a man in dark glasses holding a labor newspaper, the Industrial Worker. The man is Tom Lassiter, a partially blind Wobbly sympathizer who sold labor papers at his newsstand. After he was threatened, kidnapped and his papers were destroyed, Lassiter was warned never to set foot in Centralia again.

Across the bottom of the picture flames lick up, consuming workers who are shown as prisoners. As grim as this scene is, the artist is not without a sense of humor. A small volcano emitting a plume of smoke and sporting a pair of glasses was Alewitz’s thank-you to the mural committee’s co-chair, Helen Lee, director of the Evergreen State College Labor Center. He called it Mount Helen Lee!”

Times have changed and as memories fade and older citizens pass on, the pain and bitterness are healing. The story is still rarely talked about, but probably more because it is fading into town memory. And that’s OK, because sometimes it’s just time to move on while learning from a shameful history that helped shaped the town to be the quaint little place that it is today.

Categories: Historical, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Centralia, Washington Founded by – George Washington?

1-George Washington

George Washington, Founder of Centralia, Washington

Did you know that the small town of Centralia, Washington was founded by George Washington? No, not that George Washington, but the son of a slave.

Born in Virginia in 1817 to an African-American father and white mother, George was taken in by a couple named Cochran after his father was sold and his mother gave him up. In 1850 they all moved out to Oregon, then north in 1852 to what would later become Washington. However, in 1852, blacks could not own land so Washington had the Cochran’s file a claim for 640 acres (the size of property a person could get under the Donation Land Claim Act). Later, when Washington became a territory and did not bar black’s from owning land, the Cochran’s turned Washington’s land over to him.

George met and married Mary, who was also African-American and white. In 1875 they filed a plat to create the town of “Centerville” when they realized that the railroad would be coming right through the area. But they did so much more than just that. They donated land for a church and a cemetery. They enabled the town to grow, thanks to the Washington’s generosity in selling parcels of land for reasonable prices, and even on payments when necessary. Later on, during financial hard times, they helped set up resources to provide for needy townspeople and buying back land to keep it from foreclosure.

The easiest place to see the continued legacy of George and Mary’s generous donations is the square block surrounded by Pearl, Centralia College Boulevard, Main, and Silver Streets. This is the land they donated for a town square. It is now known as George Washington Park and holds the Carnegie Library, along with a gazebo, and a war memorial. The townspeople enjoy summer nights in the park, listening to “Music in the Park” performed under the shade of several huge trees. This is also where you’ll see the town Christmas Tree lighting up the night all during December.

The town was renamed to Centralia in 1883 because people thought the name was too easy to confuse with many other towns named Centerville.

George Washington died on August 26, 1905. This beloved man had one of the largest funerals ever held in the town and he is now buried in Washington Lawn Cemetery, the cemetery that he provided land for. The large mural of him is painted on the side of the Key Bank building. Key Bank’s address is 201 W. Main Street but the mural is on the side facing Pearl Street. Stop by and take a look at the picture of George along with his dog in front of the door to his house. Then walk on across Main Street to George Washington Park and just stand there for a minute, thinking about how it must have been to be there over 135 years ago planning to begin an entire town. The guts and vision that it took were nothing short of amazing.

Nice job, George, nice job indeed. Thank you.

Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

There She Blows! Whale-Watching in the Puget Sound



One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest is being able to go whale watching. So one cloudy day (hey, it you wait for perfect weather in the northwest, you won’t get out much) David, his mother, Sue, and Josh went up to Anacortes, Washington and headed out with Island Adventure Cruises on the Island Explorer III. (I couldn’t go because I was having my own outdoor experience at the Washington Outdoor Women Weekend Workshop.)


Josh always enjoys himself…

The boat was fairly large at 101 feet long and 24 foot wide. It had a range capable of going clear to Ketchican, Alaska without refueling! It was two stories tall and had food and beverages available, but they took a lunch since they weren’t sure if there would be food available. There were 149 other guests on board with them. One of the most interesting aspects of these kinds of excursions is talking to other people and find out their interests and their stories, so they met some very nice people that day.

The boat left at 11:00am and headed north past Cypress, Guemes, Orcas and Lummi Islands. After they cleared Lummi Island, a thick heavy fog set in. The captain was communicating with other boat captains trying to locate whales and he was concerned that with the fog they may not be able to see anything. Then the call came in that a “superpod” of Orcas was spotted south of Pt. Roberts, Washington, in the northern part of Puget Sound.

Orcas are black on top with a white stomach. They weigh between three and 11 tons and are 17-32 feet long. They can live up to 95 years! Orcas are actually part of the dolphin family. Pods are family groups, and there are three pods in the area. A superpod is when all three of the pods are together.


Other whale-watchers

It took about 2 ½ hours to get up to the spot where the whales were reported. As they got closer to the location, they were also getting closer to Canada, so the captain advised them to turn off their cell phones so they wouldn’t get charged international fees. First they spotted two moms with two babies. Then the fog lifted and they started seeing more and more Orcas. Several other boats were also in the area watching the whales breaching (jumping out of the water), frolicking, and playing in the water. Everyone was so excited, clapping and “oohing” and “ahhing”. Boaters have to stay 1000 feet away from the whales, however, it’s hard to control if they come towards you. The captain had to shut the boat down to try to stay the distance. They spent about 20 minutes watching them before they had to head back for the long ride home.

Fortunately, there is also a lot of other wildlife viewing in the Puget Sound, so the ride wasn’t boring. They were thrilled to see harbor seals and stellar sea lions swimming around and peeking up out of the water. Cormorants and loons were drying themselves on rocks. Humpies (pink salmon) were also busy jumping around them.


Cormorants drying their wings

Whales can usually be seen from April through December, with the peak time being May through September. You don’t always have to be out on a boat to see whales, they can be seen from shore, but you do increase your chances of seeing them from a boat.

Overall, they all reported it was a great experience! Accommodations on the boat were top notch. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. David, Josh, and Sue recommend that everyone take the opportunity to go whale watching at least once, and Josh would love to do it over and over. Island Adventure Cruises has a guarantee that if you don’t see whales, you’ll get free tickets to another cruise and they honor their policy. They can be reached at or 1-800-465-4604.

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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