Area residents have known for many years that Wilbur is a nice place to visit – but an even nicer place to live. The people here have a tradition of taking pride in their community. They see what needs to be done to benefit the town as a whole and they jump to get the work done.
Proof of this can be seen in the Emerson Park sports complex at the east end of town. The facility boasts tennis courts, a lighted football field, track, baseball diamonds, rest rooms and a concession stand. Emerson Park was planned, designed, financed and built almost entirely through the volunteer efforts of Wilbur residents, led by the Lions Club. The sports complex is owned by the school, but it is open to the public and can be used and enjoyed by visitors, as well as local residents and school groups.
When it became apparent that repairs needed to be made to the town’s swimming pool, a committee was formed to look into the problem. The community rallied around, with individuals and organizations voluntarily donating many thousands of dollars and the townspeople voting a five-year bond levy to remove the existing pool and replace it with a new facility. Even rural citizens and those from other communities pitched in to help meet the necessary expenses, since they, too, use the pool. The pool is open to the public throughout the summer months for both day and evening swimming. It also offers water aerobics and beginner through advanced swim lessons. In recent years, an area Community Swimming Pool Foundation has been formed to raise money to help support the pool, to keep it open and in good repair. One of their most popular annual fundraisers is the Roger Sheffels Walk-a-Thon, which takes place every spring at Emerson Park.
Back in 1989, in celebration of the centennial of the state of Washington and town of Wilbur, the local Centennial Committee developed a plan to provide a Centennial Pavilion in the city park to replace the aging bandstand previously in use. To finance the project, local residents, businesses and organizations purchased decorative “name” bricks that were used to face the front of the structure.
The Wilbur Cemetery Association installed an automatic sprinkler system at the town’s cemetery, with financing provided by donations.
Several years ago the Adults For Kids organization purchased and installed a new playground unit in the city park. The group raised over $10,000 to cover the cost of the equipment, installation and sod. A large group of volunteers worked weekends and evenings in order to have the playground equipment in place before Wild Goose Bill Days. More recently, another group of volunteers, as part of a senior project, raised money and installed new playground equipment at the school.
Throughout its 124-year history as an incorporated town, Wilbur has carried on this tradition of working together, to make this warm, friendly little community a better place for its citizens and visitors to enjoy. Back in the 1950s, the town recognized the need for a Community Center and successfully created a fine building that is still a vital part of the civic and social life of the town.
Wilbur provides many amenities that contribute to a high quality of life for its residents. The Hesseltine Public Library contains over 10,000 books, just waiting to be read and enjoyed, as well as high speed internet; the Big Bend Historical Society Museum allows the visitor to step back in time – at no charge; and the beautiful downtown park accommodates those in need of rest and relaxation.
More active recreation is available at Emerson Park, which plays host to many ball teams during the spring and summer months. In fact, those with a hankering for the active life find plenty of opportunities in Wilbur – no matter what their game. Community members play volleyball and basketball in the school gym, and tennis, softball, or baseball at Emerson Park. Joggers and walkers can utilize the track around the football field or take advantage of the many country roads surrounding the town. Long-distance bicycling is also a popular sport, made all the better by the wide shoulders of Highway 2.
The semi-private Big Bend Golf and Country Club welcomes visitors to its nine-hole dual tee golf course, located on the west end of town. It features well-maintained greens on a relatively level course with few sand traps. Rental clubs and carts are available, and lessons can be provided for the novice golfer. The Clubhouse affords the visitor a place to relax, serving food and drinks. Only members and their guests can purchase alcoholic beverages.
Hunting and fishing are popular pastimes for local residents, as well as visitors to the area. Deer, game birds, wild turkey, and waterfowl are abundant – offering ample opportunity for the hunter to bag his or her limit. Be sure to get permission before hunting on private property. Rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, walleye, perch, and other fish are plentiful in the waters of Lake Roosevelt. Small lakes throughout the region also provide an assortment of fishing opportunities. Hunting and fishing licenses are available at Country Lane Campground on Main Avenue.
Camping, fishing, motor boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, swimming, hiking, picnicking and sightseeing are among the recreational opportunities on or near Lake Roosevelt, which is only 20 minutes north of Wilbur. In the winter months, snow skiing is popular with area residents who find a number of ski resorts within easy commuting distance. Those who don’t want to drive to the mountains for downhill skiing may want to take advantage of the open countryside and rolling hills to cross-country ski right here in their own backyard.
Grand Coulee Dam, only a half hour drive from Wilbur, offers visitors an awesome view of one of the largest concrete structures ever built by man. The dam, four-fifths of a mile long and 500 feet high, holds back the waters of the Columbia River and forms the 151-mile-long Lake Roosevelt, while providing power for the northwest and beyond.
A laser light show, among the largest in the world, amazes and delights visitors every evening from Memorial Day weekend through September. The show starts shortly after dark each night.
The business community of Wilbur is the hub of the area, featuring modern shops with friendly, helpful merchants and courteous clerks. The shops attract customers from nearby communities as well as Wilbur residents, and offer visitors some great shopping opportunities with a wide assortment of unique items, both old and new.
Visitors wanting to fly in on a small plane, will find a convenient, well-lit and refurbished landing strip about a mile west of town at the Wilbur Airport.
Emergency services are provided by the Wilbur Police Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Washington State Patrol, which currently has a trooper living in Wilbur.
Ready to respond in minutes, well-trained members of the Wilbur Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians serve and protect the surrounding communities. The Wilbur Medical Clinic is owned by Lincoln Hospital District, based in Davenport, and features the services of several family practitioners on a rotating basis.
Hospitals are within easy reach at Grand Coulee and Davenport, and for major emergencies, a helicopter ambulance service can quickly provide medical evacuation to the major medical centers in Spokane. Dental care is provided by Dr. Jim Harris, as well as a visiting orthodontist.
Wilbur has Hillcrest Village, a complex of apartments for senior citizens and the recently remodeled Wilbur Senior Center on Main Avenue. The Center boasts a thrift shop and reduced price lunches three days a week.
The Wilbur School, home of the Wilbur-Creston-Keller Wildcats, with its enrollment of 270 students (K-12), is noted for high academic standards and athletic achievements. They are the 2012 Knowledge Bowl State 1B Champions, the high school science team won the 2011 Bi-County Science Challenge and the 2011 Wildcat Athletic Program is the Northeast District 7 1B Bi-County League Sportsmanship Winner for the 2nd year in a row. The Wilbur High School received the 2011 Washington Achievement Award for its impressive graduation rate.
The community abounds with civic organizations, all working to further improve the quality of life for those who live here. Residents and students can join the Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, Boy or Girl Scouts, FFA, 4-H, Grange, Senior Citizens, Friends of the Library, Wilbur-Creston Wildcats Booster Club, Miss Wilbur Association, Wilbur Cemetery Foundation, Community Swimming Pool Foundation, Wilbur Fire Department or EMTs, Big Bend Historical Society Museum Board or Fraternal lodges.
Church plays an important part in the lives of many local residents. Churches with congregations in Wilbur include the Wilbur Lutheran Church, Community Presbyterian Church, Sonrise Foursquare Church and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. In Creston, the Creston Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is active, as is the Almira Community Church in Almira.
Grain crops are of major importance to the economy of the area – in fact, Lincoln County is known as the second largest wheat-producing county in the nation. The gently rolling hills of the surrounding countryside provide an ever-changing panorama of colors and designs as the crops go through their seasons and the farmers work their fields. Visitors are fascinated by the wheat harvest, which takes place in late July and August. Other area crops include barley, hay, potatoes, oats and chickpeas.
The distinct four seasons of this part of Eastern Washington provide pleasant contrast, and the low humidity helps keep conditions agreeable. The climate is generally comfortable and moderate with warm summers and cool winters but few extremes. Spring provides a blessed rebirth after the winter chill, bringing new life and an abundance of colorful wildflowers to the area. The sunny days and cool nights of autumn transform the world of nature into an artist’s palette of red, orange and gold.
To those who live here, and who appreciate the wealth that nature and the close and caring extended “family” of community members provides, the Wilbur area is truly a wonderful place to be.