NIGHTHAWK, Wash. — Out in Eastern Washington, where the sky runs wild and so do the cattle, take Highway 97 north about as far as it'll go. That's where you'll find the tiny town of Nighthawk, right where it's been since 1899. But these days there are more horses than humans here.
"I don't believe there's probably too much nightlife in Nighthawk," said Jesse Proctor of US Customs and Border Protection.
Nighthawk looks like something out of an old western film, with its dusty main street, long-abandoned hotel and brothel, and weathered planks creaking against the relentless wind.
But the nearby border crossing looks just as lonely.
"We have very few cars that do cross through here throughout the daytime," Proctor said.
Proctor and his team of CBP officers don't see a lot of action.
"Whenever a car does come up they are glad to see somebody coming through here," he said.
In fact, during our visit, exactly one car crossed the border. Some times of the year, that would make it a busy day.
"We've had days where there hasn't been anyone that's come through the port of entry," Proctor said.
This crossing does not handle freight.
"Trucks don't cross through here," Proctor explained.
And they keep very reasonable hours.
"Nighthawk is an 8-hour port," Proctor said. "It's only open from 9:00 in the morning till 5:00 at night."
When traffic is light — which is almost always — the team finds other things to do and works to stay vigilant.
"Taking care of inventories," Proctor said. "And online courses that we do throughout the year."
There's been a border facility here since at least the early 1900s. The types of travelers have changed over the years, from miners and moonshiners to campers and Canadians out for a ride.
"It could be a traveler, sightseer, that's going to come through here," Proctor said. Occasionally it might be someone that lives 10 or so miles up the road."
What started a century ago as a tiny wooden customs house over in that ghost town is now a state-of-the-art facility powered by the sun and an apparently endless supply of wind.
With its modern upgrades, the Nighthawk border crossing is poised for many more years of service to come. Long, lonely years.
"The lifestyle is a lot slower than your larger towns," Proctor said. "And a lot of people that move up here, that's what they're looking for."