Goldendale, Washington


Goldendale is a town in Washington state, in Klickitat County not far north of the Columbia River. The sign at the city limits used to read like this (maybe it still does):







When we made our yearly visits to my my paternal grandmother, back in the 1960s and 1970s, Goldendale was the last real town we passed through before we arrived at her house. We usually stopped for a burger. I wish I could remember the name of the burger place, because it was excellent.



Partner and I have passed through Goldendale a few times over the past fifteen years. It’s bigger than I remember, but I see from Wikipedia that it has less than four thousand residents, so it’s still pretty small.



In June 1918, astronomers William Campbell and Heber Curtis came to Goldendale to view a solar eclipse. This was an especially important eclipse, because Einstein’s theories predicted that the light of stars close to the sun would be deflected slightly, and everyone wanted to see whether or not it was true.



The Goldendale data (which wasn’t terrific) did not confirm Einstein’s theories. Luckily, other viewings over the next few years confirmed that Einstein was correct.



But Goldendale turns out to be a great place to have an observatory. The air is clear, and the weather is mostly cloudless. There’s a permanent observatory there now, in its own state park.



And here’s the thing: my father (who was six years old at the time) was only a few miles away from Campbell and Curtis, on his parents’ ranch, as Campbell and Curtis performed their observations.



The world is a very small place after all.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to Goldendale, Washington

  1. starproms says:

    What an unusual landscape (for me at least). It almost looks like it could be Japanese!

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