The town of Winthrop, Washington, had it’s beginnings in the late 19th Century with the establishment of Guy Waring’s General Store. For many years the town’s economy depended on mining, ranching, and especially on apple growing. Then in the winter of 1968-69 temperatures plummeted to 50 below zero decimating the entire apple industry in the Methow Valley. At the same time the authorities were planning a new highway through the Cascades Mountains, creating the Cascades Loop and putting Winthrop on the map. Otto and Kathryn Wagner, owners of a successful lumber sawmill, proposed and supported transforming Winthrop into an 1880’s Western themed town. When the highway opened to great fanfare in September 1972 the culture and economy of Winthrop changed forever. Fortunately back in the 1930’s when Simon Shafer was operating his general store downtown he often bartered when his customers didn’t have cash for their purchases. By the end of the Great Depression he had an impressive collection of items and he kept them all. Eventually he purchased the home that Guy Waring had built for his family, known as the Waring Castle, and turned it into the Shafer Museum. Today the museum owns several buildings and an incredible collection that really preserves the history of the town. Theresa, the volunteer museum host today, was a wealth of information on the history of Winthrop, from the very beginnings through the transformation to a Western themed tourist town. One of the small details that delighted Karen was that a visit to Winthrop by Owen Wister was part of the inspiration for his novel, The Virginian, published in 1903. We lunched at the Duck Brand Inn, named for the first tavern in town, and found a geocache just feet away from the original location of said tavern. After the museum visit we found dessert at that same intersection at Sherri’s Sweets then headed to our home for the weekend, the Winthrop KOA, Site #64




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Cobh on Our Own

Cobh on Our Own

For our first adventure together on the Emerald Isle, we walked the streets of Cobh, County Cork, explored St Colman’s Cathedral, and visited the Cobh Heritage Center.