Ben Ohmann Photography

BenOPhoto Blog

The blog of Ben Ohmann Photography

Stepoe/Elberton Adventure

We recently decided to take a family road trip for the day and have an adventure! 

Our first stop was the Steptoe Battlefield.

On May 16, 1958, U.S. Army Colonel Edward J. Steptoe was enroute from Walla Walla to Fort Colville with approximately 160 soldiers, some civilians, and several Nez Perce scouts. Just north of the present town of Rosalia, Washington, they encountered an estimated 600-1000 warriors from the Spokane, Yakima, Palouse, and Coeur d' Alene Tribes. This pivotal battle was one of the last Indian victories in the Northwest. 

Next we stopped at the beautiful Steptoe Butte.

Steptoe Butte has survived massive floods and burning lava to stand as an island of quartzite that is some of the oldest rock in Washington State. Surrounding this ancient butte are layer upon layer of a much younger volcanic rock, basalt, that is 15-17 million years old. The Palouse Hills extend out from Steptoe Butte and cover an estimated 3,000 square mile region of southeast Washington and northern Idaho.  

The pictures cannot even begin to do this beautiful place justice. Driving up the narrow road, with no guardrail was a little nerve racking, but once we got to the top, it was simply breathtaking. It literally looked like an ocean of land, just rolling hills for as far as the eye could see. We had a little picnic in the car at the top then enjoyed the view for as long as we could stand the brutally cold wind.

Our final stop of the day was the ghost town of Elberton, Washington.

Elberton is near the valley of the Palouse River and Silver Creek, so it provided a nice location to establish a town in the late 1800's. In the 1870's Giles D. Wilbur built a water powered sawmill there that provided lumber for many area barns and homes. Oregon Railway and Navigation Co. also built a rail line through the valley. The town was plated in 1886 by Sylvester M. Wait, and named in honor of his son Elbert. By 1888, Elberton had a flour mill, post office, two general stores, a blacksmith & wagon shop, two grain warehouses, a livery stable and a church. The town continued to grow throughout the 1890's, however, after the turn of the century, having cut down all the nearby timber, the sawmill moved to Idaho. Then after a devastating fire in 1908 and serious flooding in 1910, Elberton began to decline. Now most of the buildings are gone and the Whitman County Parks Dept. owns most of the land.  

This wasn't the "ghost town" we had pictured in our minds when we set off to find it, but it was a very neat town to explore. There isn't much left of what used to be however, except a church, a bridge, some old busted cars, barns, and a forgotten cemetery. 

We hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we do. We had such a great time going on this adventure as a family and we just love finding pieces of old history to explore. We hope to continue to find more "ghost towns" to explore in the future and share many more adventures with all of you.