Coulee City is not the same settlement that it was at it’s founding early in the twentieth century. A time traveler from our time would instantly notice at least one glaring difference: back then, the town wasn’t on the shores of a giant lake!
The earliest interments at the site pre-date the town and are thought to date as far back as 1889, though burial records do not exist from that era.
Coulee City was founded in May of 1907, by that time the graveyard had been in use for close to two decades, yet had still not been recorded with county government.
Known burials took place over a 30 year period spanning 1895 to 1924, but after the 1920s the graveyard went disused. By some accounts it was an issue with the water table causing subsidence problems when graves would flood, others claim it was abandoned because the rocky soil was just too tough to dig.
Decades of neglect passed by until the 1970s, when a band of volunteers formed to bring the forgotten graveyard back from the brink. Their laudable efforts culminated in the official dedication of the cemetery on Memorial Day of 1976.
Almost 90 years after it’s unofficial founding, the graveyard was finally recorded with the county and given a name.
Since the great volunteer effort of ’76, maintenance at Coulee City Pioneer Cemetery has been sporadic.
Tumbleweeds pile up and the weeds and grasses grow tall enough to obscure many of the remaining markers.
The open spaciousness of the plot tells of the monuments that have vanished to time, while the stones that continue to weather-on might remind visitors of the grit and tenacity of those who settled these Scablands.
Coulee City is along the US-2, roughly in the center of Washington State, on the south shores of Banks Lake.
Just northeast of the tiny berg one can find the cemetery, though you might have to drive by a few times until you notice it.
Parking is limited to the roadside, but traffic is sparse.
More pictures: Coulee City Pioneer Cemetery
Coulee City, Grant County, WA, USA