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Apple Country

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Hi Folks;

Yesterday, I returned to Grand Coulee Dam for I wanted to spend some time driving through the 4 communities created after the Dam project was finished. There are two on each side of the river and a fifth twenty miles southwest. Elmer City adjacent to the Indian Reservation and downstream from the Dam is very poor with a pop. of several hundred. The City of Coulee Dam (below the Dam) is very nice with middle-class housing but small, also. Above the Dam on Lake Roosevelt is the City of Grand Coulee and it has beautiful parks, a marina, and has access to the 150 mile lake. The 4th city is Electric City, America's First All-Electric community, sits on the shores of Banks Lake Reservoir which is 20 miles long and about a mile wide. It, too, has very nice recreational facilities but is small in population. The 5th is the City of Coulee, at the south end of Banks Lake twenty miles from Electric City. Again, the Federal Gov't spent major $$'s in recreational amenities along the Lake. The thing that struck me was that these towns are in the middle of nowhere. Employment must come from the government for there is nothing else there, at least what I observed!

Today was an easy day of driving for I only covered about 100 miles, albeit through very smoky conditions. The scenery, I was told, is beautiful but I wasn't able to see much of it due to the wild fire smoke in the area.

The Apple Industry of Washington State was something I wanted to learn more about so this is the route I chose on my way to Seattle. The whole Columbia Basin facinates me. Glaciers, of course, cut the deep ravines (coulees) or canyons through which the Columbia River flows. The Grand Coulee Dam project pumps water at the dam 280' over the plateau ridge into Banks Lake Reservoir where it is directed into irrigation canals that feed water throughout the region.

Traveling west today I noticed a change in the landscape. The irrigated plateaus growing grains changed to rocky hills several hundred feet high along with deep canyons. These rocky hills are the foothills of the eastern Cascade Mountains. The region is very arid covered only by sagebrush & short prairie grass. The visionaries I mentioned in a previous blog saw potential in this Columbia Basin wasteland, however. When water was introduced into the region by irrigation canals it was found that the volcanic soil contained nutrients. Farm fields were developed on the plateaus and the narrow strips of flat land along the Columbia & Wenatchee Rivers were conducive to growing fruit trees.

Visiting the Washington Apple Growers Visitor's Center in Wenatchee gave me an education on the State's apple industry. I learned that today, there are 7 apple growing regions in the State, all east of the Cascades where ideal growing conditons of weather, soil, and water exist. Familiar varieties grown here are; Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Rome Beauty, Jonagold, Newton Pippin, Fuji, and Braeburn. Washington State is the Apple (Growing) Capitol of the World, supplying over 50% of apples consumed in America. In addition, it supplies 90% of US apple exports to overseas markets. Pretty amazing!

Tomorrow, I will explore Cashmere (a warm & fuzzy place), and Leavenworth, an Alpine-themed town.

Posted by dixter 19:25 Archived in USA Tagged country apple

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