Washington state’s park system turns 100 this year, but not since the Great Depression has it been so imperiled.
In a park historic site near Chehalis, Washington’s first courthouse is rotting from the ground up. Outside Ellensburg, at Olmstead Place State Park, heirloom hand-stitched dresses are moth-eaten and the walls water-stained in one of the earliest farmsteads in Eastern Washington.
At Lake Wenatchee State Park, extensive wreckage caused by winter storms is still lying on the ground, with another season about to open. At Flaming Geyser State Park in Auburn, a historic lodge renovated to host weddings — a hoped-for moneymaker for the parks — sits shuttered because there’s no money for needed water, sewer and electrical repairs.
All over the state, many of Washington’s 117 parks, 700 historic buildings and 33 heritage centers and interpretive sites are showing signs of neglect and even abandonment as a result of dramatic budget cuts.