Destination: Pataha and Pomeroy
Trip type: Indoor, outdoor, historic, kid-friendly
Total time: 2-3 hours, plus drive time
Lewis and Clark historical site: For this stop, you don’t even have to get out of the car — not if it’s raining or if your kids don’t feel like making any bodily effort for a history lesson. The historical site is located on the eastbound side of U.S. Highway 12, before ascending Alpowa Grade. There’s a pullout and a small sign that points out an ancient trail used by the Nez Perce to access the Snake River and by the Lewis and Clark Expedition upon returning home in 1806. The path is easy to see in the landscape and only takes a few minutes to point out and explain, so any whining quickly gives way to interest.
Pataha Flour Mill Restaurant: It was lunchtime when we arrived at the historic flour mill located a few miles east of Pomeroy off Highway 12 on Hutchens Hill Road. Given a decision between food and a tour, food won a fast vote — conveniently, the mill provides both.
What’s unique about the mill restaurant is not its menu (it features standard hamburgers, sandwiches and salads) but its pricing structure: there is none. The establishment operates off volunteers and donations, which can be made at several locations throughout the mill.
With generous servings of home-style food, you feel like you’re eating at the family table. We cleaned off a chicken wrap featuring their original Mill House dressing (available for $4/bottle), grilled cheese sandwiches and their signature hamburger, which earned a “best hamburger I’ve ever had” rating from my son.
I thought the mill was cool; it’s fun to imagine a past way of life and to see how things work. My kids? Somehow the combination of old, creaky floorboards, large rooms with strange contraptions and multistory ramps freaked a couple of them out. (Which may be another reason I thought the mill was cool.)
That said, they were definitely not bored. Unlike typical museums, the history at this site is immediate — you’re interacting with and moving through a historic space, which beats anything behind a class case. We especially liked the unique collections: the cameras, musical instruments and household items that are displayed throughout the building. For more information about the mill, including hours of operation, visit www.patahaflourmills.com.
Downtown Pomeroy: I’ve always wondered what there was to do in Pomeroy, so we left the mill and went to find out. However, it seems more than an hour’s time is needed to answer this question. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our visit; Pomeroy has gorgeous historic buildings and a whimsical assortment of neon signs so we wandered by the shops, stepping in those that were open and of interest.
The favorites were Castlemoyle, a new and used bookstore where my kids would happily spend all their allowance, and Meyer’s, which, along with hardware and home decor, sells ice cream. We also enjoyed an outdoor community space that has been transformed from a former building. It has restrooms, interpretive signs, picnic tables and landscaping — making it the perfect place to enjoy some huckleberry or chocolate chip mint ice cream.
This is part of an occasional column called “Daytrippin’ ” that explores day-trip options in the region. If you’ve got a favorite day-trip location, email me at email@example.com.