I’m headed to Spokane for a week, so along the way I decided to explore one of the hundreds of remote basalt canyons flanking the Columbia River. Northrup Canyon is just a few miles east of Banks Lake, near Electric City. I hiked up through the ponderosa pines and aspen trees under some lead grey skies.
The Northrup homestead is now a series of abandoned ranch buildings nestled in a beautiful meadow, about 3 miles up the trail.
I was surprised to find this sea of rusted tin cans very near the trailhead. At first I thought maybe it was the dump site for the the homestead, but it’s miles from the cabins in the upper meadow, and there were just WAY too many cans for one ranch. Maybe it is related to workers hired for the dam construction on the Columbia.
I jumped some deer on the trail and spotted western bluebirds and Bullock’s orioles.
The homestead sure had the look of a place that had been added on over the course of many years. The original ranch house and the bunkhouse had some log walls, some shingle walls, and some wooden plank walls.
As a guy that hand-built a couple of log houses (we lived in one for 18 years) I am always intrigued by the construction methods used by the old pioneers. This saddled notch corner technique was fairly simple to cut and could be accomplished using only rough tools like an axe and a saw. It also was pretty efficient at shedding water so these houses seemed to last for many years.
You can see this newer portion of the house had planks that were cut by some type of sawmill. Certainly a later addition, likely added on as the family outgrew the tiny log house. I can only imaging that the lumber must have come up along the Okanogan Trail on a wagon.
Well it was a wonderful hike and the rain held off until the last few steps back to the trailhead.