Historic pioneer homestead east of Moxee burned in Range 12 fire
YAKIMA VALLEY, Wash. - An historic site just off Highway 24 outside Moxee that stood for over 100 years is now gone.
“Its disappointing to go out there and see that it’s all gone," said Silas Markus, local professional photographer.
There may have been no lives lost in the Range 12 fire that burned through Yakima, Benton and Grant counties over a week ago, but the old homestead that told the story of some early pioneers’ lives was lost to the flames.
The Meeboer homestead was built in the 1890s and stood for over 100 years in the Yakima Valley.
“Its pretty safe to say that the Meeboers were pioneers in their own way," said David Burton, Advancement Director with the Yakima Valley Museum.
The home off Highway 24 was one of the first homesteads in the area, back when the federal government was trying to get people to move out west.
“Their homestead is almost exactly halfway between White Bluffs to the east near the Columbia River, and Yakima City to the west," said Burton.
The home became a resting place for many early settlers, and was most likely very well known in the area back in the 1900's. The homestead even had one of the first windmills in the area on the property according to archival information.
Local photographer Silas Markus said it was just that rich history that drew him to photograph the ruins of the Meeboer home.
“People lived their lives in that place, and now it's gone, and that's that," said Markus.
The structure was in an unprotected area and that firefighters battling the Range 12 fire may not have known it existed according to Jeff Clark with Bureau of Land Management (BLM.)
The Meeboer homestead is still located on private property, said Clark. If the property was federally owned then fire crews would have had a better idea of the site's existence.
The Meeboer home may be lost to the fire but it’s haunting image will remain forever.
State fire officials said if you know of any structures or sites in the way of a wildfire you should tell your local fire district.
If you're interested in learning more about the pioneer history of the Yakima Valley visit the Yakima Valley Museum.