The-Palouse

9

Swinging southeast, State 3 winds around the slopes of low hills that are cultivated to their very summits. On every hand is evidence of the stability of agriculture in this region: except for an occasional splash of yellow-blooming mustard, the fields are almost free of weeds; houses, barns, and outbuildings are neat and substantial; fence posts are erect and securely set and the strands of barbed wire are taut; new automobiles and trucks are seen very frequently.

Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State (1941)

McCoy, Washington, is a spot on Highway 271 (formerly State 3) between Oakesdale and Rosalia in Whitman County. The hills are still cultivated to their very summits, but the machine agriculture that dominates the Palouse has all but obviated the need for barns, outbuildings, fence posts, and barbed wire. 

Looming over the hills on Naff Ridge, just to the south of 271, are the swirling blades and austere white towers of the Palouse Hills Wind Project. The wind is converted into electricity that’s sold elsewhere; the local grid is still mostly powered by hydro-power from the Snake and Columbia rivers.

At McCoy, the tall, boxy, aluminum-clad 1940’s-era grain elevator stands within sight of the new McCoy Grain Terminal. Grain from all over the Palouse is trucked to the Terminal, where it is then dumped into 110-car unit grain trains destined for Portland, Longview, Kalama, Tacoma, and other Northwest ports. There, the crop is transfered to the holds of ships bound for Asia. Their work thus exported, the locals stock their pantries with food grown elsewhere down at Crossett’s Food Market in Oakesdale.