Monday, March 10, 2008

On Saturday, I Found A Lost Town, And It Stunned Me

The town certainly isn't lost to those who live there, but to me, I had never heard of it. The town has three streets: Becker Road, Johnson Road, and Butte Street. Yeah, Google Earth is really high resolution in Eastern Washington and the Palouse, isn't it?

I was hunting for rills when I came around a corner and saw a mammoth grain elevator. Now, I hadn't seen a car in 20 minutes so this surprised me. Before I reached the grain elevators I had to drive through town. There are maybe ten houses there. There was also this old two room schoolhouse with beautiful brickwork. The school was boarded up with dimension lumber, not the usual plywood. In the cornice-work was painted, "Johnson High School 1925."

A few of the houses had old cars and nice gardens in front of them. One of the houses had a rice burner in front of it. There was even the dilapidated start to a downtown: a single-room, white, brick building with a facade and blank sides so other buildings can join up and help it make a downtown. That was on Becker Road, which is one of the better roads I've been on:

Becker is this loop through the hills of the Palouse. It has some amazing corners and a long straight stretch through a farmer's compound. One of the better corners - a left hand crest that tightens at the top - gave me this shot:

I guess I was in Washington, but I thought it was on the Idaho side. I asked around and none of my college friends had heard of it either. The town has signs for who lives where: at one point I thought I found a fourth street, but realized it was just a driveway. I looked closer at what I thought was the street sign and it said the patriarch's name. I don't know anyone from Johnson. I work retail and have met a lot of people in the area, but nobody has said, "I'm from Johnson," to me. Hell, it's not even a town anymore. To quote Rem, "I was embarrased that there was this world I didn't understand." That's why I didn't take any pictures of the town. Next time I might, but I couldn't then.

Rem again: "Cities are the machinery with which modernization takes place."

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