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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

#2193 - Sportsmen Roost, Republic, WA - 5/26/2013

One hundred years ago Republic was a booming mining town with a population of around 2,000 people, 20 saloons, and a thriving red light district featuring hostesses like "French Marie" and "Holdout Annie." 1,500 people would line Clark Avenue for the Fourth of July horse races and activities. The town started out as the "Eureka Gulch" mining camp virtually the minute the federal government opened the north portion of the Colville Indian reservation to mining claims. It boomed with series of nearby strikes, leading up to the discover of Knob Hill, the largest gold mine in the state of Washington.

The town is a sedate now, adjusted to host tourists and hunters along the approximately 1,000 residents. Many of the buildings along Clark Avenue try to invoke the old west, boomtown days, but not everyone is enamored with it. We met one of these people the lounge of the Sportsmen Roost, in the back behind the diner portion. You can get pretty typical diner food in front and pretty typical dive bar drinks in back. The woman opened up quickly and did not pause until we tore ourselves away to continue down the road. She told us about growing up in area, moving to a large town where she worked in schools, and coming back after she'd retired. She warmed up by pointing out the men in the bar who had recently had affairs, and with whom. She told us they couldn't have a school baseball team here, because parents just aren't willing to invest time in their kids, and the town is dying because the kids leave town as soon as they can and don't come back. She told us, without a hint of humor, that a virgin in this town was a six-year-old girl who could outrun her brothers. She darkened the bright, idyllic small town image like an old episode of The Twighlight Zone.

The Sportsmen Roost is not a lot to look at once you walk past the woody front. The interior doesn't have much more personality than a hospital lunch room. But of course seeing it only on a lazy Sunday afternoon is not a good way to get to know a bar -- just as listening to one person's highly depressed descriptions is no way to get to know a town. I'd like to come back some Friday or Saturday night when the lounge is full of locals and hunters and boaters from Swan Lake.  This stop just reminded us how much pretty much any bar, like pretty much any town, can't really be grasped from any one perspective.

645 S Clark Ave, Republic, WA 99166 - (509) 775-0404
Reviews: yelp - urbanspoon

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