On Saturday, August 31, 2013, I drove Washington State Highway 261 over the Snake River and across the farms to Ritzville, arriving as the sun went down.
A state highway to be known as state route number 261 is established as follows:
Beginning at a junction with state route number 12 at Delaney, thence northwesterly to a junction with state route number 260 in the vicinity of McAdam; also
Beginning at a junction with state route number 26 at Washtucna, thence northerly to a junction with state route number 90 at Ritzville.
Near the grain elevator known as Delaney, where the Union Pacific once roamed, we begin our drive at a junction with US 12.
Our twisty, narrow Highway 261 turns westward down the Tucannon River, pinched up against the cliffs by a railroad that no longer exists. The canyon is full of small farms and cows. We pass the town of Starbuck without stopping to look for coffee. Down we drop to the wide Snake River to cross over at Lyons Ferry on a bridge that was relocated from Vantage in the 1960s. No ferry any longer, naturally. At the mouth of the Palouse River, we pause to swim, but the water is rather muddy. As the sun drops lower into my eyes, we climb away from the rivers on a zig-zag road over hill and dale. After ten miles of this, we thankfully drop down into Washtucna Coulee and arrive at our first junction with SR 260.
Highway 261 takes a short breather at this point while it rides on the back of Highway 260 (as denoted by the gap in the red line on the map above). But soon we arrive at the junction with SR 26. SR 260 ends here and SR 261 resumes. Welcome to Washtucna. Weren't we just here?
Heading north for a change, we climb up out of the coulee onto the boring-road plateau, known as Rattlesnake Flat. Farmland. Wheat stalks have been cut. May Nunta bless your harvest. Through Ralston and shortly we're at I-90 and Ritzville. Suddenly back to civilization!
And with the rodeo in town, we were lucky to find a room for the night...