The Palouse is filled with interesting stories, locations, and sights. The word Palouse comes from the name of the major village of the Palouse Indians. The name is from the Sehaptin word for the village, “palus”, which means “something sticking down in the water.” The village was located at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers, where a large rock was sticking down in the water.
Other unusual facts about the Palouse:
- The Giant Palouse Earthworm was first unearthed by Frank Smith near Pullman in 1897. These giant earthworms can grow to 3 feet in length, and live in the deep, rich soils of the Palouse bunchgrass prairies. The worm is named Driloleirus, which means “lily-like worm”, reflecting the peculiar flowery aroma it emits when handled. Until recently, the last confirmed sighting of the elusive worm was in 1986. A University of Idaho graduate student found a specimen in May, 2005, proving that the giant is still around, just hard to find.
- The Codger Pole is the tallest chainsaw carving in the world, standing 65 feet tall. The pole commemorates a 1988 reunion football game between Colfax and the town of St. John. The original game was played in 1938, and replayed in 1988 by those players still around after 50 years. The pole has depictions of the players of the game.
- Grizzly Bear Research. The WSU Bear Program was started in 1986 in response to the threatened status of many bear populations. The facility includes a two-acre exercise yard and six indoor-outdoor pens with temperature-controlled dens. The WSU Bear Program is the only facility in the world to house adult grizzly bears for research. The bears are active from April through November, but hibernate through the winter.
- Rock Lake is the largest body of water in Whitman County. Legend has it that a cave along the banks contains a moonshine still. Several boxcars of new Model-T Fords are reportedly at the bottom of the lake, victims of a train wreck around 1908. Divers have never been able to locate them. For more information about Rock Lake, click here.
- Barn Murals in Uniontown
- Almota Grain Transport. Steep canyons of the Snake River gave farmers a difficult obstacle to getting their grain down to the river. The descent by wagon was slow and dangerous so local farmers developed some interesting solutions to get their grain from the canyon rim to the river’s edge. The first attempts were chutes that grain was poured into, then sacked at the bottom. By the time the grain made it to the end, it was scorched from friction. The most successful and longest running solution was the Mayview Cable Car Tram; it was in operation from 1890 to 1942. This tram used the weight of the grain to pull the loaded cars down the tracks and the empties up. Click here for more detailed information.
- Elberton Ghost Town Ghost towns of Washington