The drive to Prindle was a dream on this wet day. As my son and I twisted around Highway 14’s many bends, it felt like traveling into a mist shrouded fairy tale. If the dense trees were not hiding elves or dragons, Bigfoot definitely would be at home (and legally protected) here. I made a game to entertain my boy when the branches would overhang and touch, “We are going through a forest tunnel buddy!” It kept him occupied for close to 10 minutes, which is a win for this preschool mom.
I had to be careful to not get so lost in my own thoughts as we sped on that I missed the school. I’ve always wanted to visit it, but time constraints or the wishes of my “chaffuers” have waylaid me and I inevitably end up surprised when I come upon it. This time however, I was determined as I excitedly pulled onto Prindle Road.
I wanted a quick view of the road, so drove by the school first. The view in front of me as I passed was so incredibly breathtaking, I literally stopped dead in my tracks, put the car in park in the middle of the road (no traffic or moving cars nearby), and took a picture! Wow! How did children in some of these schoolhouses get any studying done? I’ve always been prone to daydreaming and this view holds endless possibilities for any like-minded individual.
When we arrived at the school itself, a married couple who worked for the owner volunteered to show us the inside. We accepted our first guided tour in a old schoolhouse. The owners make bells from original molds (1886!). If you would like to visit their website and check these out, it’s a great way to order your own melodic and useful piece of history- https://www.prindlestation.com/!
The school held other wonders as well, small hallways and steep stairs give homage to a harsher but simpler time and an old phone brings to the imagination a school teacher getting the call that a student is urgently needed to help birth a breech calf in this gorgeous farming community.
The outside of the school is so beautiful. Decorated in prim white, it is an eye-catching sight that can be viewed from Highway 14. The bell is worth noting, as this trip, surprisingly, was more about bells than anything else.
On the way out, I asked the worker about a holly farm next door to the school. He nodded sagely, leaving me to my own research later. As a child, my neighbors owned a holly farm, and we spent countless hours there with their permission, wandering the rows of red and green variation. While I was keen to drive onto this farm, I was unsure if it was open for visitors. I called the owner to verify and indeed it is! Holly season should begin around November 1st and while they ship it out, they do gather some for purchase on the farm. Another reason to return! You can find out more here: https://columbiagorgeholly.wordpress.com/. By the way, the hours listed for contact are the correct hours. I called about 7:30 p.m. and was greeted with “Hello.” After explaining who I was and the reason for the call, I got all the information I needed via some friendly conversation.
Prindle School and the surrounding area are so worth a leisurely visit! I found a ton of information about Prindle. If you want to delve deeper into the history, here’s where I did my research: http://columbiariverimages.com/Regions/Places/prindle.html and http://revisitwa.org/waypoint/prindle/.
Next it was onto Skye. Autumn luxury did not hold anything back on this drive along the Washougal River and corresponding side roads. Vine maples are the star of the fall leaves, their glorious salmony oranges echoing the brilliant fish flesh of the Coho and Chinook inhabiting this river.
The Cape Horn Trailhead marked the beginning of this journey, and places like the Washougal River Merchantile and a community center were also welcome visual breaks. We needed to stretch our legs, so stopped at Prindle Park. My son enjoyed the seesaw and old fashioned steering wheel. I enjoyed being the only occupant in this natural jewel. I am told in Summer a creek runs through it.
We got back in the car refreshed and after several hairpin turns, arrived on Pohl Road. The schoolhouse at 181 Pohl Road awaited us, it’s brick red and white exterior giving a neat and tidy appearance. This one has somewhat of a southern feel. According to my research it was built in 1910 or 1920 and remained in use until around 1957. It is now a private residence, and well maintained. Information on this location in particular is well worth the read. My research came from a variety of sources, including www.washougal.k12.wa.us/do/newsletter/history/wsdhistory.html, https://history.columbian.com/bear-prairie-3/, and http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/do/newsletter/history/wsdhistory.html and https://skamaniawa-taxsifter.publicaccessnow.com/AppraisalDetails.aspx?keyId=206635&parcelNumber=02053000040000&typeID=1 and https://history.columbian.com/bear-prairie-3/
My boy and I were tired and headed home, the watchful eye of a local llama following our every move, bringing a bit of humor for the drive home.
Prindle and Skye, as well as Glenwood, Lambert, and Venserborg were all settlements during a time when 55 mph highways did not connect us nor the constant barrage of mass information we’ve allowed to plague us did not exist. There is an endless, peaceful existence kept within and near these properties, one I long for. It is a catch 22, a constant struggle to find balance between the simplicity of a pure life, and the necessity modern conveniences hold to stay a part of today’s world. These schoolhouses can be visited time and again to remind me that both can exist side by side.
I would like to dedicate this blog to those who keep these schools in as close to original condition as possible. It is also dedicated to Jessica Coffman and Bonnie Cobb, dear friends and co-workers who blessed me with information on Skamania County I knew nothing about. I am still learning from both of you, modern pioneers in your own right! You mentor me with your adventuring spirit! Thank you!
Reader, dream fearlessly, buy and travel locally, and make everyday an adventure!
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