The Road to Walville: Stewards of a Ghost. pt. I

Nestled in-between two county lines lies a quiet ghost dressed in the mists of land and history.

Walville road.

Walville road.

The Ghosts of Walville walk here, in the rain and ferns and a road with no warning signs.This is where we have tethered our canoe. Along the banks of yet another Rock Creek (really, how many Rock Creeks are there?). This is our home, but we are merely the stewards of a story, adding our own footprints and footnotes of memory.

Walville, an abandoned mill town site that straddles the Lewis/Pacific county line, was once home to a large sawmill operation. Established in 1902 by the Walworth and Nelville Manufacturing Lumber Mill and General Merchandise Company, the mill burned in 1930 and was permanently shut down. The post office was
opened on June 3, 1903, and closed on February 29, 1936.Like many of the other villages and towns that lined the railroad route, Walville now consists of only a few scattered homes and an old cemetery..

- The Sou’wester of the Pacific County Historical Society and Museum Summer & Fall 2006, Volume XLII, Numbers 2 &3

We acquired the property of Red Hawk Avalon by chance or calling, either or, we are here. The mists have claimed us and the waters have initiated us. We have persevered storms and have laid our claim, always asking permission.

Porch runes.

Many tales have lived and died here. Stories riding on the backs of old Cedar stumps and singing with the chorus of frogs. We arrived to that song, and listened from our porch protected in an old Rune.
The ghosts of Walville are in a state of healing, caught in a constant cycle of letting go and decay caused by the monsoon like rains of the Willapa Hills. Each season washes the old dark memories into the Chehalis watershed, to be re-born, like the Salmon.

During the 1910s and 1920s, the mill employed well over 100 men, who lived with their families in separate areas based on economic, ethnic, and racial barriers. The wealthier white families lived in a part of the community called Big Bug Town, the many Japanese-American families in Jap Town, while other sections were called Cow Town and Dago Town.

Old town map of Walville.

Old town map of Walville.

Even the dead were separated in segregated cemetery plots.

- The Sou’wester of the Pacific County Historical Society and Museum Summer & Fall 2006, Volume XLII, Numbers 2 &3

Japanese Cemetery

Japanese Cemetery

These are newer stories in relationship to time, but one’s that have left a deep scar on the physical and spiritual landscapes of Walville and this bio-region. I feel some camaraderie with this, our mutual healing. I felt I had found my best friend when I arrived here. A friend that needed nothing more than stewardship and understanding. We would take walks in the dawn and discuss our shadows. Take strolls through the scarred forest and process our demons. We layed offerings to each others winds. I finally felt able to let it all go.