Dear Readers: Please note this correction to last week’s Bicentennial Mural article. Colonel William Farrand Prosser moved from Prosser to North Yakima in 1886. He served as a delegate to Washington State’s Constitutional Convention in 1889.
I.X.L. Livery Stable
In the upper right hand portion of the mural is a red building with bright white trim. It’s the I.X.L. Livery Stable, which once stood at the corner of 6th Street and Dudley. The I.X.L. - owned by Thorpe Roberts - kept mounts for hire, provided horse boarding and sold hay and grain.
Roberts was born in Nova Scotia in 1863 (son of sea captain) and left home at age twelve to work in lumber camps throughout Canada and the U.S. In 1887, he filed a homestead claim on Horse Heaven and later established the livery stable.
In 1910 a local man, accused of attacking a teenage girl, was tarred and feathered at the stable. The man was later brought to trial and the charges dismissed. Charges against those who applied the tar and feathers were dismissed due to lack of witnesses.
The small white church below the I.X.L. is Prosser’s original Methodist Church. Construction began 1894 and the church was incorporated in 1897.
Church leaders agreed that any preacher who came along would be permitted to use the building, so the Prosser Methodist Church became the “mother” church to several other local houses of worship, including: the Christian Church, Lutheran Church, First Baptist Church, and Presbyterian Church.
The old Methodist Church is today the Prosser Funeral Home.
To the right of the church is a cigar labeled “Grass Widow.” More about that in an upcoming installment.
Prosser’s Carnegie Library
Prosser’s Carnegie Library is the large grey building to the right of the Grass Widow cigar. Between 1883 and 1929, thousands of these libraries were built throughout the U.S. and elsewhere by steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie - who believed all people should have access to books.
Prosser’s Carnegie Library was constructed for $5000 in 1910 and originally operated by local women’s clubs. It sat at the corner of 6th and Sheridan and was demolished in the 1960’s when the new library was built on 7th Street.
The tall man dip netting at Prosser Falls represents a traditional Yakama fisherman and the small wooden scaffolding at the center of the falls is a Native American fishing platform.
For millennia this area of falls and rapids (which the Yakama people call Taptat) has served as a Native American gathering place and fishery.
The Yakama caught spring Chinook and Fall Coho salmon here, as well as Steelhead and Lamprey eels. Yakama people continue to fish at Taptat and the Yakama Nation operates a fish hatchery a short distance downstream.
The unmistakable image of Theodore Roosevelt is to the left of the fisherman. Roosevelt, who dearly loved the American West, visited Prosser as President of the United States in 1903 and again as former president in 1911.
Both visits were “whistle stops” in which T.R. delivered his signature fist pounding speeches from a caboose at the Prosser Depot.
Hundreds of people travelled by horse and buckboard to catch a glimpse of this great American. At the conclusion of his 1911 visit, a group of teenage girls flung carnations his way.
Reportedly, Roosevelt picked up one of the flowers, sniffed its petals and flashed his world-famous toothy smile at the besotted young ladies.
To the right of the Indian Fisherman is the Taylor and Kemp Flour mill. There is a monument to the mill situated in a small park (with an excellent view of the mill site) at the corner of 10th and Grant Streets.
The monument’s inscription (abbreviated) reads: Standing here in 1886, one would have seen Colonel Prosser negotiating with the Yakima tribe camped along the Yakima River for Lewis Heinzerling’s grist mill. This was to be one of the first mills in the state.
George S. Taylor, who came to the Yakima Valley in 1866, purchased the mill and placed his son Emery in charge in 1898. Ezra Kemp, an Englishman who settled in Prosser in 1882, acquired a half ownership in 1899.
The firm was henceforth known as Taylor & Kemp Flour Mill. The Northern Pacific left Prosser with a carload of flour to feed the “San Francisco Sufferers” of the earthquake in 1906 and in 1939 over 10,000 barrels were shipped to China.
The mill was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire on August 23, 1945 after playing a substantial role in the economic development of Benton County.
Just above the flour mill is an image of grazing sheep and a herder’s wagon. Sheep ranching was one of Prosser’s earliest and most profitable industries.
Generally speaking, bands of sheep were kept in the Yakima Valley during the fall and winter, and trailed to higher ground (Cascade Mountains, Northern Idaho, Montana, etc.) for the spring and summer.
Sheep ranching produced two harvests each year: wool and lambs. Substantial numbers of people were employed at lambing camps and shearing operations, and as herders and camp tenders during the summer months.
Be sure to read the other posts in this series