Friday, February 16, 2018

Washington Court House: A City in Decline - Part 2

All is not lost.

(All photos not credited are those of the author.)

(Part one can be seen, here.  In it, was discussed some of the not-so-positive changes our town has gone through over the last several decades.)

Not all has been lost, though; the foundation is still sound.  Our historic court house was restored.  The train is still at the park, seemingly well maintained.  Some new businesses have located here, (though from what I am told, the wages are not the greatest).  The land I once hunted, fished and camped on (a reminiscence for another time), is now home to a YMCA and a reservoir that is open to the public. 

It was shocking to come home one day and see what the Army Corp of Engineers had done to Paint Creek and the woods along it.  Like so many, I grew up along that creek; fishing, ice skating, exploring, catching crawdads.  In my eyes, its charm and character were forever destroyed; memories shattered.

But I was young, then.  It was the necessary and right thing to do; the city had endured enough flooding and what the ACofE did spared the city a lot of grief.  (Who remembers looking across "Lake" Eyman Park?)  Since then, an intermittent walkway was created along the creek; as well as a dog park.  This is a good beginning, but that is it; a beginning.  So much more could be done along the entire length of the creek to increase it's intrinsic and economic value.

San Antonio, Texas has its River Walk.  Providence, Rhode Island has the Providence River.  In both cases, the cities took advantage of their resource.  They built retaining walls along the banks and created beautiful, scenic walkways.  Both rivers are spanned by ornate bridges.  Providence installed statues and monuments along the way; San Antonio, waterfalls and ornate gardens.

Both attract visitors from around the country and around the world, making significant contributions to the local economies.

Photo from
Providence is well known for its annual Water Fire festival.  Beginning in March, it plays every other weekend, through November.  Over 100 braziers are set up in the middle of the river and ceremoniously lit at dusk.  They are tended throughout the evening by volunteers in boats who replenish the firewood.
There are vendors of all sort hawking their food and wares.  There is an eclectic mix of entertainment, Brazilian dance, big band, mimes, jugglers, magicians all charming child and adult, alike.  Couples can hire a gondolier for a romantic excursion.  Learn more about Water Fire, here:

Photo from The River Walk Guide
San Antonio took a slightly different approach.  While the Providence River is park-like, the River Walk is more developed.  Lined with cypress trees and intermingled with gardens, there are permanent vendors and venues established along the river.  There are restaurants, night clubs, retail shops, hotels, etc.  One can take a boat tour up and down the river or just enjoy a long walk, taking in the sights, sounds and aromas.

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and text
Photo from The River Walk Guide
Lackland Air Force Base, the Air Force's basic training base, is located in San Antonio.  There is hardly an Air Force veteran who has not visited the River Walk.  Learn more about the River Walk, here:

There is no reason we can't do something along this line in Washington Court House.  There are of course, obstacles and obstacles are meant to be overcome.  Those will be addressed in Part 3 or 4.

Our circumstances differ from those of the cities mentioned, above, but we can do the best we can with what we have to work with.  The San Antonio River is no bigger than Paint Creek and the Providence River, not much so.

The creek can be dredged and widened, where necessary.  A dam or dams can be built to assure adequate water levels during dry periods.  The scum and "seaweed" can be skimmed and filtered off, composted and used to fertilize the gardens created along the creek.

In Parts 3 and 4, we will look at some of the attractions that could be created along the creek and other ideas for revitalizing the community.

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