Bucoda is located in the woods of southwestern Washington. Founded as a company town centered on coal mining and lumber, it was also the site of the first territorial prison. Originally it was known as Seatco until three local lumber Barons petitioned the Washington State Legislature to change the name to a new word comprised of the first two letters of their last names: Buckley, Coulter and Davis. When the lumber mills were operating at full bore, Bucoda was known as the little town with the million dollar payroll. The most visible historic structure on Main Street is the Odd Fellows Hall, built in the early 20s during the civic heyday. It is currently owned by the city, who have plans to renovate it to its former glory; donations toward this end are currently being accepted.
Seatco Prison closed when all its inmates were moved to the new state prison built in Walla Walla. The lumber mills have all burned or closed. The school district shut down in the 70s, students now travel to Tenino for their schooling. The local hotels, movie theaters, Ford dealership, all that, gone. Old highway 99 runs parallel to Main Street on the other side of the railroad tracks. With the advent of Interstate 5, it is no longer the main thoroughfare between Seattle, Wash. and Portland, Ore. The railroad tracks host Amtrak, but no passenger train has stopped in Bucoda for over 40 years. There are only 665 residents left in the town, and two businesses on Main Street, Joes Place, a restaurant and tavern, and Liberty Market, a general store.
Bucoda is not to be dismissed as another grim reminder of the death of Small Town America. A recent visit there revealed Bucoda to be lively, full of character. Lots of folks were out on the street, quick to extend a friendly greeting to an obvious stranger. Though development is limited until Bucodas septic and storm water systems are upgraded to current state standards, other utilities surpass many Washington communities several times its size: local telephone service provided by the Tenino Telephone Company features the most up-to-date communications technology available, making this the small town with the million dollar high-speed connection.
This song was created for the collaborative documentary project Mapping Main Street. Calvin Johnson describes the song:
The annual school reunion the last weekend of July is being expanded next year to a centennial celebration, as 1910 was the year Bucoda officially incorporated. There will be a parade down Main Street, and placards around town identifying the locations of various businesses and historic residences. Plan your summer vacation around attending this event. It will be a party.