Ah, the summer of the “stay-cation,” where rather than hopping on a plane, people are keeping closer to home. Instead of Maui or Miami, maybe a destination in Washington fits the travel budget better.
Here’s my suggestion: go to Dayton, and see where the past and the future have come together.
Dayton? Not Dayton, Ohio – but Dayton, Washington. It’s one of the oldest towns in our state, and it’s on the cutting edge of renewable energy. A few hours behind the wheel and you’ll see glimpses from the past and a sneak peak into the future. Dayton has “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Jetsons” all rolled into one quaint package you can enjoy in a weekend.
With 117 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, Dayton can go toe-to-toe with any town when it comes to milestones and landmarks. The centerpieces are the county courthouse and railroad depot. Both date to the 1880s and are restored to their original grandeur. Plus, Dayton has boutique wineries and an old-fashioned county fair in September. You can even visit a Lewis and Clark campsite. No “stay-cations” for those two!
And when it comes to renewable energy, Dayton’s stature as a center of clean, electric power is growing quickly. Just this August, Puget Sound Energy added four new wind turbines to our Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility, taking the total number to 87 – or about what’s needed to power 40,000 homes. Since entering service in November 2005, Hopkins Ridge has generated 1 million megawatt-hours of electricity. In my book, when “million” and “mega” are in the same sentence that’s remarkable.
Meantime, as the wind turbines spin, the combine harvesters bring in the wheat and the future of the family farm looks brighter thanks to new jobs, and new cash flow from renewable energy. Agriculture is no easy thing. Imagine your business being one storm or one freeze away from calamity, and it’s clear farming isn’t for the faint of heart. But today, with a new crop being harvested from the wind, the descendants (often, quite literally) of the pioneers who built Dayton are pioneering a new industry that will keep an old way of life going strong for their children.
If you’re itching for one last summer outing, give Dayton a try. It’s about a half-hour from Walla Walla, heading east on Highway 12. Once there you’ll get a taste of a time when life was slower, and a look at how energy can be cleaner.
Check out www.historicdayton.com to learn more. Then go to Dayton yourself to see where a beautiful town is growing and clean energy is flowing.
Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. He looks forward to hearing from you at AskAndy@PSE.com