WALLA WALLA -- Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road, presents two Living History performances this weekend.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Tom Williams portrays Ed Burlingame, an early canal and road builder.
In 1893, Burlingame, arrived in Walla Walla to inspect the plans for an ambitious irrigation project. He stayed to dig the ditch that bears his name today. The Burlingame Ditch turned more than 5,000 acres of sagebrush into productive farmland when it was completed in 1905. It still conveys water by gravity within its earthen banks fourteen miles from the Walla Walla River to the arid lands of the Gardena bench.
During the half-century Burlingame farmed his irrigated lands near Gardena, he lost money growing fruit before turning to more dependable alfalfa to support livestock operations.
Sunday at 2 p.m. Don Schacht will portray Justice William Langford.
Langford was the last Territorial Justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court to serve in Walla Walla County. He was appointed as territorial justice by President Grover Cleveland in 1885.
Born in Ohio in 1835, Langford crossed the Great Plains to Oregon and began his study of the law under J.S.D. Shattuck of Portland, then continued his studies under the guidance of Judge P.A. Markham. After serving in the Indian wars of the 1850s, he began practicing law in Vancouver, Washington Territory. In 1863 he was appointed prosecuting attorney for the first judicial district, Walla Walla County. He subsequently brought his family to the newly incorporated town of Walla Walla.
Langford later moved to Washington, D.C., Mississippi, San Francisco, and Idaho, practicing law in each location. Upon his eventual return to Walla Walla, he served as the city attorney until his appointment to the Federal bench at age fifty. He was seen by his colleagues and the citizenry as honorable and capable, possessing a deep knowledge of the law. Although considered a formidable legal opponent, his critics noted him as a fair judge and good lawyer, familiar with the law. Langford served on the Territorial Supreme Court from 1885 until Washington achieved statehood in 1889. At that time, he was elected to the Spokane County Superior Court bench, where he served until his death in 1893.
Fort Walla Walla Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through October. For more information, call 525-7703.