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I have learned – once – and believed that the winding road to the top of Steptoe Butte in Washington State’s Palouse farmland was graded soon after World War 2. Previously one reached the top on switchbacks. Here the coloring of the road directly above the bottom of the photograph looks fresh, and Horace did visit Steptoe several times in the late 1940s. I did once – with my dad – and also in the late 40s.
This view looks northwest. The little “pyramid” on the horizon at the center reaches an elevation of a few feet more than 4130, and on the otherside is Plummer, the mysterious Chatcolet Lake and the larger lake, Coeur d’Alene, it shares its bath with. I was raised nearby in Spokane and once I got my drivers license at the age of 16 the far northern end of Coeur d’Alene was a favorite destination in the summer, for swimming, of course, and also diving off a rock on Tubb’s Hill, a pine landscaped peninsula attached to the town of Coeur d’Alene but not bothered by it. Although living near it and visiting it often my inability – or lack of interest or discipline – to remember the correct spelling for “Coeur d’Alene” is the best evidence for my place name illiteracy.
The distant ridge on the left is the ridge just northwest of the town of Tekoa, which is about 17 miles from the Steptoe Summit. At a few feet more than 4000 the ridge above Tekoa is about 400 feet higher than Steptoe Butte, but not as high as the little pyramid above Plummer, which tops at about 4130 feet. And now we know.