Home of the legendary Walla Walla sweet onion (and the fictional Ace Novelty Company from the Warner Brothers cartoons), Walla Walla is also known for the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. The mission, a major Oregon Trail stop, was used to convert the local Cayuse people to Christianity and farming. The contact with passing settlers soon spread measles among the natives. The crisis peaked when members of the tribe killed the family who ran the mission, along with 11 other settlers. Five Cayuse men eventually took responsibility for the killings and were hanged. The mission's buildings no longer stand (they were burned to the ground), but their outlines are clearly marked. On summer weekends, staff at the site give living-history demonstrations of both pioneer and Native American crafts. Phone 509-522-6360. http://www.nps.gov/whmi.
Also in town is the Fort Walla Walla Museum and Complex, which contains many restored buildings from the pioneer era. Phone 509-525-7703. http://www.fortwallawallamuseum.org.
Although sweet onions are the area's claim to fame, Walla Walla Valley is one of the state's four official viticultural designations. Having gone from 10 wineries in 2001 to 48 in 2003, it is one of the most rapidly growing wine regions in the U.S. Wine tours are available.
Dayton (28 mi/44 km northeast) offers an interesting historic district. Self-guided tours take visitors through pioneer cabins, grand Victorian homes and a train depot built before the turn of the 20th century. In 1806, Lewis and Clark walked a Nez Perce Indian trail, part of which eventually became Main Street in Dayton. Walla Walla is 160 mi/260 km southwest of Spokane.
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