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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Lowe

I was going to continue the blog by showing and telling where we are with the refurbishing of our grain elevator complex. But I got a phone call from my dad about a week before the 4th of July that changed my direction. Hence, I lost track of time and haven't posted since then.

He said that he had a 1929 Chevy truck sitting in his barn that we could have if we could come and get it. He had intentions of restoring it but it just was taking too much time and he wanted to do other things. And it would go with our Elevator complex quite well.

So, along with two grandkids and one son-in-law, who, THANKFULLY, is a mechanic, we headed off on a road trip from Wallowa, OR to Coeur d' Alene, ID. It seemed to go well. At least no one got car sick and we only heard the question "Are we there yet?" seven times. When we pulled in, we found this beauty...

A 1929 Chevy truck that my father had taken down to the frame and then started to clean up. The running gear is good and it moved smoothly onto the trailer. We snuck the running boards and the doors under the frame on the trailer and loaded the working engine and transmission (seen in the photos below) onto the side of the truck and the back of the pickup pulling the trailer respectively. We strapped what was left of the seats onto the gooseneck under the truck and the rest of that parts and pieces, including the original windshield, went into the back of the pickup.

The thing about the 1929 Chevy truck was that everything from the back of the cab forward came standard. But the customer was able to order the back end in about any configuration that they wanted it. Some were ordered with actual pickup beds like this one...

and others came as flatbeds with rails attached (as seen below). We're opting for this one as we have the original hinges for the back-end gates and the other metal that belonged to the flatbed

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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Lowe

One of the largest projects going on in town is the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland project. I can't do it justice here but the website does an extremely good job at defining what's going on there. I highly recommend that you click on the link and visit the site.

On the south side of the tracks, but adjacent to the Homeland Project, sits the Wallowa River RV park. We think it's the best RV park in the county, if not the region. It is very well maintained and provides a good hub for getting to other sites around the county.

I guess I had better start explaining why I'm telling you all of this. The first blog post I produced let the reader know that our town has been in somewhat of a decline until residents started saying "enough is enough" and rolled up their sleeves and started in. And, thankfully, they did. Otherwise, we'd still be in a state of decline. As you know, with anything, you're either moving forward or backward. And we were moving backward...

We started timber bronze 53 as a "business with a mission". But as we moved forward, we thought "so what...". We decided to switch our outlook from that to having a "mission with a business" to help support it. Our mission is to help the town of Wallowa to revitalize itself by highlighting and taking part in the various projects and efforts that are going on. Our business is a means to help fund that effort.

Two years ago, we were fortunate enough to by an old grain elevator complex that sits right on the railroad tracks, complete with a siding, a 56' tall x 30" across metal grain silo and a 6,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Huge undertaking but we couldn't stand the site of one more building going to waste and falling into further disrepair. So we took a shot and it worked. We were able to secure the buildings and are now able to move forward with our plans. More on this later (including pictures), but we are using the first floor of the elevator to house our bronze business, the silo for our foundry and a portion of the warehouse for our office space.

Our vision is to use this complex as a gateway for people to start their journey of exploration and learning throughout the area, but especially here in town. Many years ago, just a block east of us, sat the train station. I'm not sure where it went or if it even still exists, but the interesting part was that the excursion train used to run from Wallowa to Joseph to the east and then from Wallowa west to Minam, which is a point where two rivers meet (also a great place to check out. They run great rafting and guided fishing trips out of there). We are working diligently to bring that excursion train back to the valley. Currently, there is a working partnership between the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority and the Friends of the Joseph Branch to run excursions from Elgin, which is about 1/2 hour west of Wallowa to Minam, which is only eight miles west of us. We are working with that group to get the train the other eight miles here to Wallowa. It'll cost about $200,000 to do so but we are checking into sources of funding for that. Currently, cargo could be moved on this stretch of tracks but the monies will be used to bring the tracks up to meet the specifications needed for passenger travel. We fully expect that to happen by the next excursion season.

Anyway, bringing the train back will be a HUGE boon to our economy. We will be using the grain elevator as the train depot AND as not only space for our businesses but for others as well. We will be creating upper floors in the elevator which will house artist' loft spaces. And "the front office" of the Elevator will be a showroom for those artists to display and sell their work. There has been significant interest in those spaces already. Who knows, we may even have our own "town potter" in the very near future....

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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Lowe

The Northeast Oregon Economic Development District and Mainstreet Oregon staff have been crucial in helping us develop a downtown corridor plan that will help business owners with storefront renovations. Old buildings are now getting new life. I drove by the purple church today (yes, you read it right) and it is getting a new roof and the paint is getting finished on the outside of the building. It sits right on Main Street and, as one would expect, attracts a LOT of attention. It used to be rather dilapidated, and you should have heard the comments until it started to get pulled together. Now some of those same people say "Hey, that's not too bad!". A block away from that sits the old Methodist church building, complete with belfry. Bells have not pealed out for some time now but there is hope as it was recently donated to the Nez Perce tribe. And across the street from that sits the old Burrow’s Café. A charming place that has changed hands a few times but is still in business under a new name. The café used to belong to Beth’s uncle’s mother and father and the original sign is in their backyard.

The old Coleman and Chrisman building was purchased by a gentleman out of Walla Walla, who owns a winery. The old Shell's Mercantile building is being converted into shop spaces, which I hear tell might even include a tackle shop. One of our neighbors was the driving force behind getting an abandoned lot right on Main Street converted into Memorial Park. It is a fantastic addition to the town. The old telephone building now houses midwifery and is the temporary location of one of the new clinics that are coming to town. This clinic is building a new building on the west end of town, with the other clinic remodeling a building that previously housed a shop wherein they built handcrafted recurve bows.

Even our high school is getting a much-needed facelift. Local citizens passed a bond levy that will fund the construction. If it turns out anything like the picture on the cover of the plans that I saw at the courthouse the other day, the renovation is going to be spectacular.

If I mentioned this before, please forgive me, but since I’m new to blogging, I figure I could get a hall pass. The east end of town has Melincko’s, a museum of flight that is a real draw and is a fantastic addition to our community. Laureano is a gift when it comes to his knowledge of flight. Just west of it is our local grocery store and across the street from that sits the newly renovated building which used to house the old movie theater. The little green building next to that used to house a bakery. I can still smell the bread…

On the other end of town, there’s the local gas station/convenience store and a drive-in that has been there since sometime in the ’70s (we think). We’d ask Rhonda but she’s closed up for the night. And then one of the meccas…the old Forest Service complex that was donated for use to the Wallowa History Center, headed by Beth’s aunt. She’s the town historian. I love parking my rig in front of her house because I find folders with pictures of the projects we’re working on in the seat of my pickup. It’s AWESOME!

Why am I telling you all of this? Tune in to the next post and we’ll talk about the Nez Perce tribe, the Homeland project, the timber bronze 53 grain elevator complex, and how it all fits together.

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