News

Wilkeson Arch finished, sign due in August

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

As Wilkeson residents, or anybody who has visited Wilkeson lately, know, the Wilkeson Arch is finished, with the exception of the sign.

The arch's two 6-foot square, 25-foot tall sandstone pillars were rebuilt earlier this year, and workers installed the log, which spans state Route 165, at the arch's new Hill Street location, Feb. 23. But the sign, reading " Welcome - Wilkeson Coal Mines - Wilkeson Sandstone - Gateway to the Carbon Glacier" on one side and "Remember Wilkeson" on the other, has yet to be hung.

The town had intended to hang the old sign on the arch but because it was a little bit too old, and in too much disrepair, for it to be used, a new sign is being finished.

The sign won't be hung, however, until Aug. 21, during a town ceremony and celebration. The celebration, which will include a formal ceremony and a parade, is being postponed until late summer because that is when the original arch was finished, and the ceremony will commemorate the arch's survival.

Before the Feb. 28, 2001, earthquake and subsequent removal, the arch was near the intersection of Brierhill Boulevard at the western entrance of town. The arch has been a part of Wilkeson's history for more than 75 years, since 1925, when members of the Wilkeson Boosters Club designed and provided $2,000 to build the arch.

According to the town's Web site, "the erection and dedication of the 'Memorial Arch' was the most important event in the town's history." At its completion, the town held a gigantic three-day carnival, including a parade, street dancing, a band, ball games, games and contests, to celebrate the event.

The Wilkeson Arch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Washington Heritage Register in 2000. According to Gregg Griffith, of the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the arch at the new location must be evaluated before it will be decided if it will regain its status on the register, which was a concern by some of the detractors of the arch's new site.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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