Many people walk in to Timberland Bank in downtown Winlock and see the mural on the wall once inside the front double doors. We don't always look at it for what it is meant to be, we just think it's a nice painting. That is, until you learn the history behind this mural.
The mural was dedicated on Jan. 17, 1976, to the Finn farmers who came to Winlock. The fulfillment of a long-time wish, the ten foot by six foot oil painting is the work of noted Washington Artist Fred Oldfield. It was commissioned by the Winlock United Finnish Kaleva Brothers and Sisters Lodge Number 19, and cost $4,000.
The first Finnish settlers came to Winlock in 1903. The three tiers of the mural depict roughly a 35 year period of growth, beginning with the first industry that supported the pioneers, timber.
The period of prosperity depicted in the mural spans from approximately the 1920's to the late 1930's. It's an interesting and colorful history of a determined people whose hard work and frugal ways brought prosperity to the area. They sought freedom and fulfillment for themselves and a better future for their children, and they succeeded.
It tells the history of the struggle of many Finns who came from other towns in Washington, Alaska, Canada and some directly from Finland. When they first came, many of the men worked in the mills and camps while the women and children cared for the fledgling farms. Eventually the tree stumps were removed and farms took shape. When logging became scarce for a while, it was the Finns who marshaled their own resources and began to build poultry houses and stock them with chickens. Poultry houses quickly dotted all roads leading to Winlock.
As demands for eggs and meat increased so did the need for hatcheries. Winlock produced several million chicks in a year. At the peak of the industry, their market extended to neighboring states including California. To symbolize its progress, Winlock began the Egg Day celebration, now one of the oldest continuous community celebrations in Lewis County. An early settler credited the Finns with saving Winlock after the big sawmills left.
The Winlock area still has numerous poultry farms, raising poultry for some of the most well-known companies in America. Winlock keeps the poultry industry in the minds of its residents by display in the Events Plaza of the World's (First) Largest Egg and by the decorative poultry statues throughout downtown. Two restaurants in Winlock have eggs and chickens in their name, and the Renegade Rooster Museum contains memorabilia from Winlock's poultry production history of almost 100 years.
So the next time you visit Winlock, take time to view the mural at Timberland Bank and remember its Finnish connection to Winlock.