Labor Day Fires Destroy Historic Town, Bridge, Near Colfax
Not only was 80 percent of the town of 203 people destroyed, a century old covered rare bridge went up in flames too Labor Day. Not just a small town, but big pieces of Whitman County history.
From the catastrophic storms Labor Day, brush fires roared through Malden, WA, which is about 30 miles north-northwest of Colfax in Whitman County. The town, which was once a railroad hub for the Milwaukee line, had seen it's population dwindle from over 1,000 in the 1930's to 203 in the 2010 census.
But it still had a number of historic buildings, including the historic post office, library, fire station, and many residences, and they all went up in flames. The post office had formerly been a bank, and been around for 107 years.
According to MyNorthwest.com, a separate fire also claimed perhaps one of only two remaining covered bridges in the state, the Manning-Rye-Harpole Bridge. It was built 100 years ago as part of an electric railroad line between Spokane and Pullman. But the railroad line went away after ten years, then in 1970 a private resident bought the bridge and made it passable for cars. It was then turned into a driveway for a private landowner whose home was nearby. The name of the bridge came from a trio of small Whitman County towns that are now gone--turned to ghosts.
It was one of the most photographed landmarks in Eastern WA. But now it's gone. Officials say now a covered bridge in Wahkiakum County is now the only usable covered bridge left in the state; and likely the only one still standing.