The Scheibner Grade in Northrup Canyon

George and Caty Northrup weren’t the only family in the canyon at the turn of the 20th century. Scheibner brothers Charles and Fred had moved into the canyon a couple years earlier and were already known for their produce, in particular, luscious strawberries. In 1901 with the backing of the farming community around Steamboat Rock the brothers petitioned the county for a bond to create a road up the south talus slope wall. The main purpose for the new road was to move fresh produce up to the railhead in Almira or Hartline quicker. The bond was granted by Douglas County and by July 1902 the newly christened County Route 337 was opened to the public. Horse drawn wagons of fruit and people made their way up the County Route, and back down into the canyon. County Route 337 suffered problems from the start. Frequent rockslides meant continuous maintenance, and there were several incidents with wagons on the switchbacks near the top. By 1920 the age of automobiles and lack of upkeep made Route 337 obsolete to all but a few thrill-seekers. Eventually it became known as the Scheibner Grade in Northrup Canyon. (top image courtesy Coulee Pioneer Museum, c.early 1900s) 

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Scheibner Grade, spring 2019

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views from the Scheibner Grade c.1942 courtesy Edward J. Powell

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2 thoughts on “The Scheibner Grade in Northrup Canyon

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  1. Love this resource for me personally as an admirer of the upper coulee area and for my WA state history students. I hiked Northrup Canyon for the first time recently and no one seems to mention the veritable marmot mansion on the outcrop near the bend beside the two sheet metal roofs and the makeshift wooden slab of a bridge. It was charming to see them (at least ten) sunning themselves unperturbed as my son and I passed. Who is in the zoo–them or us–is what we wondered. Are they so ubiquitous in the area that trail sites don’t mention them? Also, I was wondering how much documentation there has been regarding the rusty can underbelly on the one side of the sagebrush fields near the entrance of the trail. I found one little snippet of a travel article that mentioned it may have been trash from a CCC encampment? It is fascinating and fitting to see this rustic rubbish heap that might have scarred another landscape instead barely pull focus when compared to the timelessness of the canyon. Is there more to that story? The tension between man’s desire to harness and alter the landscape and nature’s ability to adapt, retrench, override, and overrun seem to be hallmarks of the area.

    1. Well, thank you very much.
      to answer your questions, the 2021 Northrup Canyon marmot population seems to have exploded this year. I’m not sure why, but people have been bringing it up and I have also noticed a sharp increase in the marmot population this year. For sure, we are in the zoo.
      The cans are awesome. The history behind them is their was a family in Northrup Canyon who were quiet ingenious and bold. They petitioned Douglas County (before Grant County was sectioned off) and created the Scheibner Grade with the revenue they generated. They were also paid by the county to do maintenance. Much later they had a contract with the WMAK mess hall in Grand Coulee during the construction of the dam for waste removal and disposal. That is where the cans came from at the start. Over the years, as with any rural open dump, other trash is going to find it’s way into the mess, if you go there today you will find plastic water bottles even.
      The new trash like plastics are a disgrace. The Scheibner dump is considered by many to be an eyesore, and should be removed. However, the original dump site is unique, tells a story of our history, and will eventually break down into the earth anyway. To me the cans are artifacts and should be kept clean of litter, even though it is a dump! 😉

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