Thursday, July 25, 2024

Frank Matsura Tour highlights downtown Okanogan attractions


OKANOGAN—While the City of Bridgeport has its walking tour of 29 custom-carved tree sculptures, the county seat has a 21-site walking tour of early 20th-century photographer Frank Matsura's photo displays and murals. An outdoor display of Okanogan High School art student projects (No. 19) produced during the tenure of art teacher Dan Brown features pieces of welded metal, cast aluminum, mosaics, and cast cement.

Matsura came to the Okanogan area in 1903 and built a studio and darkroom in 1907. Over the course of a decade recorded, more than 1,800 photographs of county life as the era transitioned from horsepower and steam power to automobiles and electricity.

Matsura suffered from tuberculosis and died at the young age of 39. His collection of photos and glass plate negatives have been preserved by the Okanogan County Historical Society and Washington State University.

The Okanogan Chamber of Commerce ( organized the tour using lodging tax funds. Chamber board member Douglas Woodrow worked with a graphic artist to create a trifold guide available at most city businesses 

The six-by-seven-block tour extending from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue and between Conconully and Norman streets includes a fold-out guide that begins at the Matsura Centennial River Overlook engraved rock at First and Pine and wends its way to 15 more photo and mural displays in a concentrated two-by-four block area. The remaining three sites are more of a hike from the courthouse and high school to the Grange Hall. The 21st and final stop is at Matsura’s grave in the Okanogan Cemetery, 2.3 miles south on Cemetery Road.

The murals and photo display tour stops include:

  1. The Bachelors - On the First Avenue wall of the laundromat at Pine Street.
  2. Bureau Hotel - On the old Legion/Fletcher’s Key building towards Oak
    Street from First and Pine.
  3. Matsura & Kahlow – On the wall of the Dentist building mid-block on Second Avenue between Oak and Norman Avenues.
  4. Girls Swimming – On the Norman Avenue wall of the Driving School building just beyond the post office.
  5. Railroad Executives Auto Tour – On the wall of the old House of Draperies building at Second Avenue and Oak Street.
  6. Sledding Party – In the Glacier Bank drive-through alley at Second Avenue and Pine Street.

7.1 Boys Swimming – The same location as 7.

7.2 Auto Tour – Same location as 7 and 7.1.

  1. Old Fire Hall – On the wall of the Old Fire Hall on Third Avenue and Oak Street.
  2. City Council – At the city hall memorial fountain on Third Avenue.
  3. Pet Parade – On the library entry wall on Pine Street between Second and Third Avenues.

10.1 Old Woody Hant Tinted Color Illuminated Pictures – Same location as 10.

  1. Chief La Ke Kin or Chiliwist Jim – On the Pine Street wall of Reinbold Law Offices between Second and Third avenues.
  2. Photo Montage – In the window of the Monroe building on Second Avenue between Pine and Queen streets.
  3. Matsura’s Photo Shop – On the Queen Street wall of the Bike Shop between First and Second avenues.
  4. The Blacksmith Horseshoe Stack – Same location as 13.
  5. Native Women – On the Queen Street wall of the Blackwell building between First and Second avenues.
  6. Horse Race on Main Street – On the wall of the drug store on Queen Street across from the Caribou Inn.
  7. Photo Montage – On the Courthouse walls. Access via stairs on Third Avenue and Oak Street.
  8. Kids on a Cow – At the County Administration building up the hill at Pine Street and Fifth Avenue.
  9. Okanogan High School Outdoor Art – On Fifth Avenue between Spruce and Queen streets. 
  10. Rider’s Journey – On the Third Avenue side of the Grange building on Tyre Street between Third and Fourth avenues.
  11. Steamboat on the Okanogan – Photo with this story only. This mural that once adorned the side of the Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus storage building on Second Avenue between Tyre and Spruce streets was destroyed when the building was demolished in 2023 following a roof collapse caused by heavy snow.
  12. Matsura’s grave - In Okanogan Cemetery at 114 Cemetery Road, 2.3 miles south via Conconully Road to Old Cemetery Road.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or


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