POMEROY — Head east on Highway 12 past Dayton and into Garfield County, and you eventually come to a junction at milepost 391, where Highway 127 splits off to the north. Although it looks mostly uninhabited now, this place, called Dodge Junction, was one of Garfield County’s thriving towns more than half a century ago.
This weekend it will be the historical focus of Pioneer Days, a celebration held in Pomeroy to celebrate the county’s past.
Graduates from the classes of 1948, 1953, 1963, 1968, 1973 and 1993 will be in town for the weekend, which kicks off with an all-class reunion Friday afternoon at the Pataha Flour Mill. Following the reunion, the Chamber of Commerce is hosting a wine and dine event at Spinner’s Hall.
Saturday features the town’s much-beloved parade, which has been moved to Columbia Street due to the lighting upgrade and revitalization project currently taking place on Main Street. Roger Koller, the co-president of the Pioneer Association, said this year’s parade would be full of kids, horses, floats, muscle cars and antiques, including tractors and horse-drawn wagons.
Traditionally, the oldest two reunion classes will watch the parade, while younger graduates will walk. The Longfellow Elementary School marching band, from Pasco, will also be in the parade.
“They come every year and they are a big addition to our parade,” said Koller.
Koller said he was most looking forward to the historical program following the parade. “Communities of the Past” will take place at 1 p.m. at the Senior Center. Although most of the county’s population is centered in Pomeroy, Garfield is home to half a dozen unincorporated towns. When his parents grew up in the county, there was a home every 160 acres, the size given to settlers as part of the 1862 Homestead Act. The population was served by a total of 42 rural schoolhouses.
“My dad was close enough he walked. My mother rode a horse to these schoolhouses,” Koller said.
The afternoon’s program will highlight Dodge Junction, and reflects the efforts of county members to chronicle the past before the people who remember it firsthand are gone.
“We’re trying to work through the different old-time communities in our county and get history and information about them. As we get further down the road, a lot of our resources are passing away,” said Koller. “The history of your county and the people who lives in and worked and built your county are important. We want to honor the people who helped make it what it is today.”
To aid those interested in learning about history, the county museum will be open Friday and Saturday, and the Scenic Theater Group will give tours all weekend. Many Main Street businesses will also offer special deals, and local organizations are putting on a food fair Saturday from 11 to 1 at Spinner’s Hall. The final event of the weekend is the Pomeroy High School graduation, at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Koller stressed that many community members have worked hard to make Pioneer Days a success.
“There’s a ton of volunteer work that goes into this. It takes a lot to get this done,” he said.
Rachel Alexander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-526-8363.