Wilkeson celebration ready to roll

Nearly two years of planning will culminate in Wilkeson this weekend, as the small foothills community celebrates its centennial.

The 100th birthday party is offered in conjunction with the town’s annual handcar races, reason enough for a party. But the double celebration means things will be hopping more than ever.

Most of the fun is planned for Saturday, which kicks off at 10 a.m. with the dedication of a sandstone monument carved by Yelm, Wash., artist Paul Keeslar. The monument depicts two scenes: a miner in 1942 emerging from a mine, and a quarryman in 1910 shaping sandstone pavers.

At 11 a.m., state Route 165 will be closed for about an hour to accommodate the town’s annual parade. Donna Hogerhuis, one of the event organizers, said the parade will have about twice as many entries as usual, citing the centennial as the reason for the healthy turnout.

Those planning on attending should allow some extra time, Hogerhuis said, as parking may prove difficult.

The Seattle Cossacks, a renowned motorcycle stunt and drill team, will perform at noon. Afternoon activities include the handcar races, lawnmower races and an old-fashion tug-of-war contest at the Coke Oven Park. The downtown area will feature vendors, music and games for children.

Hogerhuis said the number of vendors has increased this year.

Sunday, the Carbon Canyon Model T club will host an antique car show in front and back of the Eagles Hall in downtown Wilkeson. The Eagles Club, the only Wilkeson fraternity to survive, will be sponsoring an exhibit on Wilkeson fraternities. History buffs are encouraged to bring photograph albums to share at the hall.

Wilkeson’s history is tied to the mines that once dotted the landscape and the town and its history is linked to the railroad because it was named for Northern Pacific surveyor and secretary Samuel Wilkeson.