Before the turn of the century, the idea of a pioneer picnic on Crab Creek entered the minds of our early settlers. The first picnic was on the primitive side. The tall grass was their chairs. Songs and speeches were heard echoing through that wide coulee. For horse racing, they used the trail-like roads that wind through pastures and fields. Foot races took place where rocks and sagebrush were scarce. For that one day outing, everyone brought enough food to keep their bellies full.
In 1902, this pioneer group got big enough to turn itself into the Lincoln-Adams Counties Historical Association. To be a member, all you had to do was to have lived around here before Washington became a state.
That active bunch really went to work down on Crab Creek. They laid out and built all the things needed to make those pioneer people happy for three days. An authentic horse race track was scooped out, and a large grandstand was connected to the track. For evenings of paired-off closeness, a good sized dance pavilion was erected. A midway was laid out for hucksters, a merry-go-round, and a speakers stand for acts of entertainment. One year a pretty lady did some death defying stunts from a smoke filled balloon that was on its way to the sky.
It’s too bad that more of these pioneer picnic events were not put down in writing. All we have now is just a mouth to mouth recall of past events, that can get lost through repetition. The time I attended was the year the depression put the picnic on its last legs. My dad’s highlight of the picnic was the year his life long friend Max Mecklenburg was busy showing off Lincoln County’s first airplane to the crowd. My aunt Minnie won all the foot races for her age group while living at Edwall. All relatives of pioneer families had similar stories to tell.
Fortunately I have received quite a few letters that have a lot of authentic old time information. Upon reading Kik-backs, Bob Harding of Sprague was reminded that his old uncle, Johnnie Harding went with the Kik brothers to homestead in the Lake Creek area. Bob then called me up and told me that Ruby Harding, Johnnie’s half-sister is still very much alive, and has been living in Los Angeles since 1920.
This exciting news caused me to send a letter to Ruby. The information I received from her was like hitting the jack-pot. She remembers so well when, as an adolescent, she attended those early day Lincoln-Adams County picnics. Her letter of recalls is unique and historical. With her permission, here are the important contents:
Pioneer Picnic Grounds on Crab Creek