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Pioneering Spirit: From Cabin to Space Travel!

Pioneering Spirit: From Cabin to Space Travel!

Taking a walk on the Centennial Pathway In Sunnyside, Washington, you get the idea that the people who lived here were, and still are, pioneers. Pioneers that traveled to the area, settled in this arid desert and established a town. Pioneers that redirected river water by canals, to make the Yakima Valley the abundant agricultural region it is today. The pioneering spirit did not stop there, but produced a scientist and 7th female US NASA astronaut, Bonnie Dunbar, who looked to space travel.

The Centennial Pathway begins at the Sunnyside Historical Museum. The early history of this city, along with artifacts and documents focusing on daily life are housed there. This was cattle country and family farms.  In the early 1900's members of the German Baptist Progressive Brethren from South Dakota settled here to form a Christian Cooperative Colony. The group enforced clauses prohibiting alcohol, dancing, and gambling as a condition on every parcel of land sold. This is why some older maps designated Sunnyside with a halo or cross symbol.

Across the street from the museum, is the bronze statue of a cowboy branding a calf and early line cabin. During the mid-1800 Ben Snipes, a NW cattle king ranged more than 250,000 cattle here. The cowboys lived in these small rustic line cabins. The bronze statue, sculpted by local artist, is of Ren Ferrell the ranch foreman and pioneer orchardist. Cattle still plays a huge part of Sunnyside's economy, with many large dairy farms.

 

The next stop on the walk is the memorial to Bonnie J. Dunbar, who grew up on a cattle ranch nearby. She graduated Sunnyside High School in 1967 and received a Master of Science in 1976 at UW, doctorate in 1983, joined NASA to fly 5 space missions; the Challenger, (twice) Columbia, Atlantic and Endeavor. Inspired by the writings of Jules Vern, there is a sculpture of her as a girl, sitting on a hay bale reading a science fiction novel and another sculpture of the astronaut she became.

 

The next stop is the bronze sculpture “Morning Chores," of a farm girl milking a cow as a cat begs for a sip. Pioneer's needed the help of every family member for survival. This sculpture is a salute to the Dairy Industry. The first creamery was established in 1901. Now local dairies have formed one of America's largest dairy co-ops, Darigold, which has been farmer-owned since 1918.

The last stop on the pathway is Centennial Square, in the heart of the revitalized downtown Sunnyside. The statue of H. Lloyd Miller, known as the father of the Roza Irrigation Project is here. This man's vision for the canal opened this part of the valley to agriculture. He was a pioneer willing to fight for what he believed in. He persuaded legislators in Washington D.C. that supplying water to this land was the right way to create national wealth through job creation and farm production.

Centennial Square is the community center for events, such as the Tuesday Tunes in the Square, and a gathering place for the Cinco De Mayo Festival in May, September Sunshine Days and December Lighted Farm Implement Parade. 

While you are downtown, stop at one of the many restaurants or shops. Sunnyside is home to Snipes Mountain Brewery & Restaurant located a short drive away.

If you are planning on doing some wine tasting in the Yakima Valley, consider staying at The Best Western Plus Grapevine Inn, Quality Inn-Sunnyside or Rodeway Inn-Sunnyside. Centrally located between two wine areas, Prosser and The Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail, the location cuts down on the driving time.  Sunnyside also has a number of wineries to visit, such as Tucker Cellars.

 

Sunnyside Historical Museum 704 S. 4th St.-  Open Thursday through Sunday 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Centennial Pathway - Take Edison Avenue to 5th Street to Park Avenue

Centennial Square -6th St. and Edison Ave. Sunnyside, WA 98944

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