Dayton: 33 miles NE of Walla Walla, 62 miles E of Tri-Cities, 129 miles SW of Spokane
Between Walla Walla and Spokane lie the rolling Palouse Hills, which are among the most productive wheatlands in the nation. Today, these bucolic hills offer a glimpse back in time to the days when the American West was an agrarian society and family farms were a way of life. Even before the settlement of the region by whites, Native Americans had discovered that the Palouse, as it's known, offered ideal horse-grazing land. Horses had reached the Northwest sometime after the Spanish conquered the southern regions of North America, and by the time Lewis and Clark passed through the Palouse, the tribes of the region had become well known for their horses, which they bred for stamina and sure-footedness. On the site of present-day Dayton, there was even a Native American horse-racing track. Today these native-bred horses are known as Appaloosas for the Palouse Hills from which they came.
Although the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through in 1806, it was not until the 1850s that the first pioneers began settling in the area. By the 1880s, the region was booming as a major wheat- and barley-growing region. Throughout the Palouse, small towns that have long been forgotten and left far out of the mainstream are nestled along creek banks below rolling hills. Several of these towns are classic examples of small-town America, with attractive Victorian homes lining their shady streets. Between the towns, the roads wind uphill and down, through a distinctive zebra-striped landscape created by farming practices developed to reduce erosion on the steep hills.