The Rocky Reach Hydroelectric project by the Chelan County Public Utility District brought about great changes for Entiat. The building of the Rocky Reach Dam on the Columbia River below the mouth of Swakane Canyon meant that the reservoir would flood Entiat.
A new townsite was developed by PUD planners and a local group of developers. Existing homes were either demolished and razed or moved to a new site upon the high flat behind the existing town. The PUD paid land owners for their property. Then the residents bought land around the new townsite.
Many of the businesses of the town did not rebuild on the new townsite. Differences on land values and where people thought the business district should be brought about today’s two separated business areas. Some simply did not rebuild or moved to another community. The only commercial building moved was the Entiat IOOF Hall. The building that now houses the Community Church was picked up, moved up the hill, and set on a new foundation. The kitchen ell was later added.
The businesses built on the newly platted town were:
The Post Office/Grange building; the Entiat Food Center building; the Chevron station which is now a traffic signage company; the train depot station which is now a residence;
the Chamber of Commerce building which is now the Wade Building that houses the Entiat Library and City Council Chambers; the Olin service station which is now owned by a construction firm; the J.P. McDonald building which is now vacant except for a small tattoo parlor;
Hawley’s Automotive which is now the Soap Meister & Gift store; Hoglund’s Appliance store is now North Cascades Heating & Air Conditioning; the Columbia Café which burned down; the Mobil station which is now B.J.’s Shell station; and the building abutting the EFC building which is now the liquor store, gift shop, motel and Laundromat.
Also a new U.S. Forest Service complex was built along with the Federated and Friends Churches.
Only three fruit warehouses were rebuilt in the third town – Mad River which is now Naumes & Skookum; Entiat Warehouse Co. which is now U.S. Castings Co.; and Taplett Fruit Co building which caved in during a heavy snowfall in 1996 and was not rebuilt.
All the homes, warehouses and stores in the second town that had not been moved were then burned to the ground and the debris removed. Population of the community dipped due to the upheaval with most of the elder generation moving while the younger generation stayed.
The school enrollment reflected this also. With new housing developments, school enrollment has caused the school facilities to burst at the seams.
After 70 years of operation, another change that saw the end of an era was the burning of the Entiat ferry. It had been operated by “Cap” Riste, going back and forth across the Columbia River between Entiat and Orondo. Six cars or a couple of trucks was the maximum load for its size. The Entiat Warehouse Co, bought the ferry as they had growers from Orondo who transported their fruit to Entiat and it continued to run until it was put out of service. Due to the cost of meeting state navigation regulations and insurance rates, it simply became too expensive to operate. The ferry was dry-docked in the dirt area just north of Building C in Silico Saska Park in the early 1970s, stripped of usable parts, burned to the ground, and the debris was removed.
The moving of the town changed the fabric of life. In one large sweep of change, the economic base, the identity of a community, and a sense of belonging was gone. In the years since the flooding, Entiat has progressed. However, the existing two separate business areas string out the city along the Hwy 97A corridor and Entiat currently has 43 small businesses operating within the corporate limits. Further economic development is needed to provide an improved sales tax base for financial viability and Entiat is currently planning for waterfront development.
It is important to note that on October 9, 1980, the City Council officially established Entiat as a non-charter Code city. Also, Entiat has the specific designation of a heritage community founded during Washington’s territorial period of 1852-1889, and a specific designation as a Tree City USA since 2001. The identity of the community and a sense of belonging has returned to Entiat and will continue to thrive due to the heart and stamina of it residents.