B Reactor Tour Manager Russ Fabre tells the story of the White Bluffs Ferry and its role in bringing pioneers to the Pacific Northwest.
Narrator: The Hudson Bay Company established a trading post at White Bluffs landing in 1826 to trade with local Native American tribes. The first white settlers came to White Bluffs in 1861. Soon a ferry brought thousands more, all seeking their fortunes in the gold mines of British Columbia and the northern United States.
Russ Fabre: We are at the White Bluffs ferry landing. Behind us is the Columbia River. This would have been the central hub of transportation as early as the 1800s. This transportation hub was critical in getting materials to British Columbia, the mines in Idaho, as well as the mines in Montana.
The very first steamer that reached this point right here came out of Portland. It was the Colonel Wright. It arrived here in 1847. It had provisions for the miners in British Columbia. If you were to travel in the Northwest, this right here would be your kicking-off point.
B Reactor Tour Manager Russ Fabre describes the two robberies that occurred at the White Bluffs Bank during the prewar years.
Narrator: The White Bluffs Bank had just one room and only one employee. While the huge vault at first appeared impervious to robbery, it was later revealed that the wooden roof over the vault provided relatively easy access to the money from above.
Russ Fabre: We are standing in front of the White Bluffs Bank. This was the central hub for finance in this area. As such, you can imagine that it would be just prime for robberies. In fact, there were two robberies that did occur here.
There were a couple, a pair, that did not even make it out of the door. They were spotted. They were arrested. One spent five years at Walla Walla State Penitentiary. The other one spent fifteen years. Why the difference? Who knows?
The second time it was robbed, the robber got away with the cash and headed north to Moses Lake, central Washington. There he was confronted by the police, the constables at the time. A gun battle ensued. He was shot. He did not have the money with him. Somewhere between here and Moses Lake, he buried the money. That money has never been recovered.