Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tono, Washington

If anyone is wondering, USGS Earth Explorer sometimes publishes upside down historic aerial photos, thereby making it easy for people to mistake one town for another. On the original version of this post I used an upside down version of Bucoda, Tono's neighbor to the northwest. 

Below is the real Tono, circa 1941, well past its prime. But, you can still see where the town certainly was.

Source: USGS Earth Exporer

Halfway through a random Sunday drive through southern Thurston County, I thought it might be interesting to see if we could get all the way up to the old Tono townsite. I'd read about Tono before, and after looking at where the old town was on a map, I thought there was no way the current landowners (Transalta) left the Tono Road open so anyone could drive up.

The road is no only still open, but paved with plenty of places to pull out and take a look. Transalata would probably prefer you not hike out too far, but let's just say its possible.

We made it all the way to the old town site. From the road you can see at least one old building, but other than that, there is no real evidence that anything at all existed here.

View Larger Map

This is most likely because of the extensive strip mining in the area since the town went into decline in the early 1930s. Tono was a coal town, and specifically, a coal for trains town. When the switch was made to diesel, towns like Tono had no real reason to exist.

The most interesting thing was locating an aerial photo of Tono (above). That shot is from June 1941, a probably catches Tono on its very last steps out. More than 20 years past its peak, there is very little on that photo that still exists today and much of what is the north part of town, is no under water  in two sediment ponds.

Tono from Asahel Curtis Photo Company Photographs from UW Special Collections (more photos):


Anonymous said...

Great article & what a fun adventure.

caglels said...

Well done, Emmett. I would like to share this with the Secretary of State Historical Records Committee.

Sam Cagle

Emmett said...

Thanks Chad and Sam!

I'm hoping to be able to go back soon and take a quick hike around. Just from the photos I was able to play with today, seems like nothing at all is left.

But, would be interesting to see what there is to see.

Emmett said...

Just in case someone wonders, the original aerial I put up with this post was of Bucodo circa 1941, not Tono. I made the mistake because it was published upside down by USGS, throwing me off.

I had double checked it with Bucoda to be sure, but it being upside down and some features seemingly perfectly matching up with the Tono site, I assumed the best.

I have it all figured out now, I'll post new aerials soon.

Thad Curtz said...

Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;

And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;

(The opening of Wallace Stevens' "Postcard from a Volcano")

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Back in 1974 my 4th grade class (we were a 4th/5th combination class)from John Rogers Elementary in Olympia made a trip to the coal mine in Centralia. in the middle of that afternoon the bus took us to Tono. Even then, there was just a single house (still occupied at the time...this must have been one of the last years the Hevaldas were still living there)and a sign. I remember being fascinated as a 10 year old boy that a town could just disappear and how cool it was that this little remnant of the past was still there. I could have sworn at the time they told us that the house was occupied by 2 elderly sisters, but from what I've seen online it must have been Mr. and Mrs. Hevalda. That little stop made a huge impression...I'm 50 now and still think about it! Tony

Unknown said...

Where is the rest of the photos? They have been removed =(