~ This small town is located in Grant County, Washington and had a population of approximately 562 during 2010 (census). It was named after the Grand Coulee that it is along. It is a center for boating and fishing along the Coulee. It is also near Ephrata, Soap Lake, and Grand Coulee Dam.
A small agricultural town with about 7,600 inhabitants located in eastern Washington. It was first incorporated on June 21, 1909. There was no known settlement here until 1886, settled by the horse rancher Frank Beezley near the natural springs they called “Beezley Springs”. It wasn’t a very promising area for agriculture nor settlement and is probably a reason why this area has always been sparsely populated. The only activity that brought people to the area was the Northern Pacific Land Grant Act, the Homestead Act, the Desert Claims Act, and the nearby healing waters of Soap Lake. The city is believed to have been named by a railway worker “Ephrata” after the biblical description of an orchard in the middle of a desert, or as the ancient name of the town of Bethlehem. Area was popular for the numerous herds of wild horses in the area, which added to trade routes and horse round-ups. The last great round-up was here in 1906. From that point it moved to herding and raising sheep and cattle. Then came the Columbia Basin Reclaimation Project which brought in workers, technology, and industry. 1939 saw Washington’s longest runways being built here for the U.S. Army Air Corps until 1945, then turned into a commercial airport. Steven Spielberg filmed the Audrey Hepburn movie “Always” here in 1989. Ephrata was also filmed in the 60 Minutes II episode on the murder of Craig Sorger by Evan Savoie and Jake Eakin.
Soap Lake, Washington ~ 47°23′18″N 119°29′15″W (47.388341, -119.487611) ~
Both a small town and a natural phenomena of a magical healing lake, “Soap Lake” was called “Smokiam” by the Native Americans as “Healing Waters”. It is a soft mineral lake in between Ephrata and Coulee. It is located in Grant County Washington. The abundant mineral within the waters is what is referred to as “washing soda” giving it a suds-like, slippery film feel. The minerals are alkaline which kills most bacteria it comes in contact with without damaging the animal or human the bacteria is living on, and when the tissues repairs itself the massive layers and deposits of mineralization will occur. The lake is very popular as a healing cure for Burgeger and Reynaud’s disease because it opens the capillary and extremity circulation of those affected by it. There are over 20 alkaline mineral salts found in Soap Lake, and is why many gather mud from the bottom of the lake to spread across their bodies for its natural healing effect. The mud sucks out toxins, moisture, and oils from the skin, giving it ability to heal. Combined with sunshine from the desert, it has been known to control psoriasis. The minerals found in Soap Lake are Sodium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Carbonate, Chloride, Potassium, Organic Nitrogen, Fluoride, Ortho-Phosphate, Nitrate, Calcium, Magnesium, and less than .01 percent of Iron, Aluminum, Copper, Rubidium, Lithium, Strontium, Barium, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Titanium, Vanadium, and Boron. The waters have been rumored to cause relief with rheumatoid arthritis, beurgers disease, eczema, psoriasis, raynaud’s syndrom, and paralysis.
This lake is one of its only kinds in the world, and no other lake has been found as such in the world. It drew large crowds of visitors back in the 1920’s. The U.S. military sent young men to Soap Lake to help arrest symptoms of the debilitating disease known as Buergers Disease. Some bathe in hot baths using the water at 104 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, once a day. For capillary dilation, others take 108 degree fahrenheit hot baths for 20 minutes a day. Others just swim in the lake for their skin. Others use the mud combined with the sun for sun tanning while others take mud baths. There are some that even believe in drinking it, but never taking more than 2 ounces four times daily. This however is not recommended. The first layer of the lake has approximately 81 feet of mineral water, the second level is mud-like and consists of a stronger mineral composition with concentrations of unusual substances and microbes. It has been stated that these layers have not mixed for thousands of years, creating the rare condition called meromictic. There are only 11 meromictic lakes in the U.S.
The town has just over 1,500 residents (2010 census). Through the years it has become a busy resort and health spa, had grown to four hotels and various rooming houses making the waters known. It also became a touristy social center with celebrations, festivals, socials, and gatherings held often. This ended around the Depression as a drought hit the lake, dwindling the tourist trade and visitors. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, new irrigation canals were built, and brought life back into the area. From the 1900’s to the 1940’s, numerous sanitariums were built on the shores to help attract and cure visitors.