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Monday, June 22, 2015

#2383 - Brown Shack Tavern, Salkum, WA - 12/28/2013

Salkum Washington is an unincorporated community of about 700 people just north of the Cowlitz River, between I-5 and the Mt. Rainier National Park. It is said to be named for the Cowlitz tribe's word for "boiling water," inspired by the roiling waters of Mill Creek. The business community of Salkum appears to be one grocery store and the Brown Shack Tavern, the latter greeting you with a handpainted hillbilly sort of sign and an asymmetric gabled roof extended to cover a small expansion. Inside you can see the shape of the original gambrel roof, with the later expansion clearly demarcated by unpainted particleboard.

I believe it was bartender Shannon who told me that the bar had been here since 1920, though it would not have been a licensed bar at that time. Another sign that the place may have started out as a soda fountain is the eye-catching back bar, which features a plate reading "L.A. Becker" -- an early 20th century manufacturer of soda fountain equipment. I'd love to get some solid information on when it became a licensed bar.

Nowadays, as you probably expect for the only bar in tiny town, it is a little bit of everything for everybody. Lots of old folks, but also young, pull tabs, karaoke, live music and dancing, and sometimes even a male stripper for the Salkum ladies. On the customer side, the formica bar top is worn all the way through wood simulating color. It is one of a dwindling number of true taverns (beer and wine only) and on this visit I spotted an 86 List with 5 names on it. Since then a new owner took control in the following July, so perhaps "Miss Kitty," "Donny (Sandy's husband)" and the other three folks have a chance to start afresh.






155 Salkum Heights Dr, Salkum, WA 98582 - (360) 985-2603
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