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Old photos find their way to museum

 

Birdie Hensley looks over a number of photos of the old Baldwin farm that was located near Steamboat Rock. They were given to the Coulee Pioneer Museum by the city of Grand Coulee. Some of the pictures will be able to be seen soon as part of a display at the USBR Visitor Center. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Imagine Banks Lake without water, and a dairy and pig farm operation in its place with Steamboat Rock as a backdrop.

That would take you back to the early 1900s, when George Baldwin farmed the canyon floor with a vegetable farm and orchard, adding to his animal operations.

The old Baldwin farm comes up from time to time when oldtimers recall earlier days, and it came up again recently at a Grand Coulee City Council meeting.

Some time ago, pictures dating back to the old farm found their way to the city, jammed in an old cardboard box.

The photographs were loaned out, retrieved, and finally found their way to the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

The pictures were placed on the council agenda by City Clerk Carol Boyce, who wanted to be sure they got to a proper place, and she asked the council for permission to place the pictures in care of the museum.

People will be able to see at least some of the old photographs in a display being placed by the Coulee Corridor Consortium, which has them on loan, in the Bureau of Reclamation's Visitor Center.

The farmland around the backside of Steamboat Rock was fertile and would grow about anything if you got water to it. And water did come, in the form of Banks Lake, but that was some 50-odd years later.

The farm was progressing along pretty well with major crops of carrots and other vegetables, fruit, and alfalfa.

Then about that time, in 1912, a major fire swept through the coulee, and the farm was gone. The Baldwins relocated their farm and continued in the area for some time.

Later, in 1914, the Baldwins played host to a party of some 40 European geographers and about 30 American professors on a transcontinental trip. The auto caravan wound its way down from Almira on roads that would be hazardous by today's standards, finally arriving at the Baldwin ranch.

A report stated that the group was served delicious salads, sandwiches, cakes, cheese, cold meats, excellent coffee served with Simon-pure cream, new apple cider, produce from the ranch, fresh buttermilk, pure spring water and fruit, all from the ranch.

The lunch, it was reported, was served in a manner that would do credit to an expert caterer.

The pictures will surely help Birdie Hensley, the museum director, put together more of the missing links of the area's early history.

And to think, a lot of this was tossed in a cardboard box that filled a corner at city hall, until it found its way through the council to the museum.

Birdie Hensley looks over a number of photos of the old Baldwin farm that was located near Steamboat Rock. They were given to the Coulee Pioneer Museum by the city of Grand Coulee. Some of the pictures will be able to be seen soon as part of a display at the USBR Visitor Center.

- Roger S. Lucas photo

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