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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Welcome to Washington"
Includes ... "Welcome to Washington" ...
Image, 2016, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken June 6, 2016.

"Welcome to Washington" ...
The "Welcome to Washington" sign, an outline of the State, was created in 1989 to honor the 100th anniversary of Washington becoming the 42nd state of the United States.

"Welcome to Washington"

  • 2007 ...
  • 2011 ...
  • 2014 ...
  • 2015 ...
  • 2016 ...
  • History ...

2007 ...
An arrangement of yellow and orange Marigolds paying tribute to the city of Vancouver’s 150th birthday.

2011 ...
A shiny red apple, Washington State's icon.

2014 ...

Image, 2014, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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"Our 125th Year" ... "Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken September 1, 2014.

Washington State's 125th anniversary. On November 11, 1889, Washington became the 42nd state of the United States.

2015 ...

Image, 2015, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, 35 Year Ago ... "Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 31, 2015.

May 18, 2015 marks the 35th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Image, 2015, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, 35 Year Ago ... "Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken July 29, 2015.

2016 ...

Image, 2016, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken June 8, 2016.
Image, 2016, Welcome to Washington, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Washington", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken July 6, 2016.
Image, 2016, Oregon Thanks You, click to enlarge
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"Oregon Thanks You", Portland, Oregon. Image taken June 8, 2016.


May 16, 2007:
Is There A Warmer Welcome in the U.S.?

"The idea for the welcome sign was birthed in the legislature in 1989 in honor of the state’s Centennial celebration. The actual sign was constructed by the Washington State Department of Transportation’s SW Region Bridge Crew. The flag poles were donated by a local Veterans group, and the lighting was donated by a local electricians union. Since 1994, the Department of Transportation has maintained the sign and plantings, periodically polling the community for design submission ideas. Over the years, local Eagle Scout troops have helped clean and maintain the sign as well. ...

This year’s design is an arrangement of yellow and orange Marigolds paying tribute to the city of Vancouver’s 150th birthday."

Source:    Janelle Ward, May 16, 2007, WSDOT Communications.

August 10, 2008:
The "Welcome to Washington" sign in Vancouver gets a plant upgrade -- gone are the weeds; soon to arrive are the perennials.

"VANCOUVER, Wash. -- From the freeway, it would appear the Welcome to Washington sign is nothing but weeds and trash.

The colorful marigolds and begonias, which used to greet drivers on Interstate 5 entering the Evergreen State during the spring and summer, have disappeared. Today, drivers can barely make out the sign under several feet of weeds.

That all will change soon.

Instead of planting annual flowers each May, Department of Transportation officials have planted perennial plants native to Washington. The new plants should sprout sometime between this fall and early next spring, and will be visible throughout each year.

The new approach came after the state experienced budget woes. Also, the department’s longtime sign designer and planter retired last year.

“This year, partly because of budget constraints or staff cutbacks, we’re looking for something a little different,” said Steve Canter, WSDOT maintenance manager for the southwest region.

The native plants, which went into the ground last month, cost the state about the same amount as the flowering annuals did. But what’s different is that this is a one-time planting, as opposed to a continuous cost, Canter said.

There are labor savings, too. The DOT maintenance crew plans to dedicate one day a month in spring and summer to the weeding and irrigation of the new display. They used to have to visit the floral display every week. There aren’t any plans at the moment to alter — or even clean — the metal or concrete behind the planting.

The new I-5 display will include a mosaic of plants inside a state-outlined hedge with tiger lilies, red columbine, lupines, Oregon stonecrop, Columbia lewisia and Northwest balsamroots. These plants grow throughout the western part of the state and Columbia River Gorge, in particular. They bloom at different times of the year, so the display’s appearance will change with the seasons."

Source:    Laura McVicker, August 10, 2008, Seattle Times.

May 11, 2011:
Sign still a welcoming sight on I-5 in Vancouver, thanks to volunteers.

A unique roadside feature greets drivers that cross the I-5 Interstate Bridge from Portland, Ore. into Vancouver, Wash. – a huge flowerbed shaped like Washington, welcoming them to the Evergreen State.

For years the “Welcome to Washington” flowerbed/sign was meticulously planted and maintained by Vancouver-based employee Sharon Morgan. Every year she designed beautiful plantings that made the sign a living work of art and a pleasant sight for everyone who traveled northbound I-5 in Vancouver.

When Sharon retired in 2007 and the maintenance budget was cut back, the sign didn’t get planted for the first time in a long time. And boy, did we hear about it.

Drivers were upset that the famous sign wasn’t being kept up. Our Environmental team planted the flowerbed with a sustainable and perennial design of native northwest plants. Most things were planted in the fall so they could winter over and bloom in the spring.

The plants didn’t look like much that winter – some drivers thought the sign looked weedy and unkempt. Then a well-meaning citizen took it upon themselves to mow down the “weeds” without knowing that the native plants were poised to bloom in just a few months. Many plants died, so our crews removed everything down to bare dirt, and we all wondered – what do we do now?

Enter Vancouver resident Yvette Golemo, who contacted Roadside Maintenance Supervisor Bill VanAntwerp and asked about the Adopt-A-Highway program. Yvette wanted to know if she could adopt the “Welcome to Washington” sign. Bill was happy to bring Yvette and her volunteers on board, and in 2009 the sign was once again planted in all its glory.

Volunteer groups have planted the sign ever since. This year, we are working with the Washington State University Master Gardeners program (insert shameless Cougs plug here). The Master Gardeners grew all of the flowers and herbs we purchased for the planting; proceeds go to support Vancouver-area charitable programs.

Volunteers with the Master Gardeners program are planting the sign this Saturday in the shape of a state icon – a shiny red apple. Thousands of brightly colored petunias, begonias and salvia plants will be combined with alyssum, sage and parsley to create another living work of art along I-5 in Vancouver. Sharon would be proud.

Big thanks to the generous volunteers who are helping keep Washington a beautiful and welcoming state!"

Source:    Abbi Russell, May 11, 2011, guest blogger for "WSDOT Blog".

May 14, 2011:
Master gardeners beautify Vancouver's "Welcome to Washington" display. Interstate 5 flower display is the apple of their eye.

Twenty volunteers with the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County, their orange safety vests as bright as the trays of begonias lined up on the grass, spent Saturday morning transforming a blank brown canvas beside Interstate 5 into a festive flower bed featuring a red apple complete with leaf and wooden stem.

Their canvas was the patch of ground framed by boxwoods in the shape of the state of Washington that graces the median just south of the iconic Welcome to Washington sign at the Interstate 5-Highway 500 exit ramp.

The organization’s members came up with the design, grew the 2,500 plants for the display and did the digging and planting for the second year in a row. The Washington Department of Transportation, which maintains the grassy median, paid $2,500 for the plants and contributed eight cubic yards of rich brown topsoil.

Volunteers planted trays and trays of white wave petunias and white alyssum as a backdrop, then filled in the shape of a giant apple with bronze-leaf red and pink begonias outlined in brilliant red salvia blooms. The leaf is composed of thyme and parsley.

“We’re here because we’re master gardeners, and we like to plant and work in the dirt,” said Sandy Burckhard, who supervised the work along with Nancy Funk of the foundation. “People as they come into the state will be able to see this beautiful sign.”

The apple, designated the official state fruit in 1989, was a fitting choice. Washington produces about 42 percent of the apples grown in the U.S., though not many of them come from Clark County.

Biodegradable sheets of paper were laid down to control weeds, and volunteers used trowels to punch holes through the paper and dig holes for the sturdy flowers. Things moved along smoothly under the capable supervision of Funk and Burckhard.

A few volunteers wanted to know how close together they should plant the petunias. The answer came: About 12 inches apart. “Not so much” fertilizer, one was admonished.

Funk said the flowers are likely to boom well into the fall, watered by a WSDOT sprinkler system.

Bill Joye, an engineer married to master gardener MaryAnn Joye, came up with the idea for building a curving apple stem with cedar boards. It juts from the ground at the top center of the flower bed. “He wanted it to twist around like a natural stem,” his wife said.

This is the third year in a row that bedding plants have been used to adorn the official welcome to the Evergreen State. A two-year experiment with using native plants fell victim to an unknown critic with a weed-whacker in 2009. Two dozen volunteers stepped in that year and filled the bed with hundreds of geraniums and petunias.

The Welcome to Washington sign and the flower bed were installed beside the freeway about a dozen years ago. A state transportation employee coordinated the annual planting for years, but after she retired the effort languished, and the agency started getting complaints about the condition of the sign. Two volunteers, Heidi Palena and Yvette Golemo, stepped up and worked with Bill VanAntwerp, a WSDOT roadside maintenance supervisor, to spruce up the sign and the area around it in 2009.

Last year, the Master Gardener Foundation took over the project. The nonprofit organization provides grant funds and support for nearly a dozen community projects, including the Fort Vancouver Historical Garden and local food banks and pantries.

On Saturday, as the sun broke through the clouds, VanAntwerp was shoveling and digging along with the gardeners. He didn’t mind, he said.

“I’d be doing the same thing at home.”"

Source:    Kathie Durbin, May; 14, 2011, "The Columbian".

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...

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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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June 2016