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Wooden Money Press In Action, Tenino Wa, On Old Us99

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In the teens and early 1920's of the last century Tenino, Washington was on the Pacific Highway (now “old” US99, and the National Parks Highway). When the great depression hit, the town was hard hit, and the local bank failed. The town came up with the idea to print their our own money (script). The first printing was on paper, and a total of $1,279 (about $22,200 in today's dollars) was circulated, and most ($1,079.75) was redeemed. The printer was the Independent, the local newspaper, located then and today on the Pacific Highway & NPH.

 

About that time a mill in nearby Aberdeen, Washington began producing thin wooded sheets of Sitka spruce and red cedar, for Christmas cards and the like. The first output of 25 sheets became the first Tenino wooden money. Overall, $10,308 ($179,000 today) was produced, and only $40 was ever redeemed!! What happened is that the wooden money because a collectible, with one selling several years ago for $4,500 on Ebay.

 

That is the back story....the story today is that I walked in on the original wooden money press in operation, printing on wood, but alas, not money. I stopped in the local Tenino Museum this afternoon, and while I was looking around, an awful racket started up in the corner over my shoulder. I turned and there was a fellow putting wooden sheets into the jaws of an ancient press.

 

Loren Ackerman is the printmaster, and one of the town's historians. He has been doing this for twenty years. We enjoyed a lively and informative discussion. He told me that the old bank building had just been renovated and that he had printed 1000 wooden pieces for them. His record speed was 4 seconds per piece, but that is far above the average pace.

 

The movie here shows Loren and the original press in action.

 

 

 

Tenino is a great stop on our heritage highways. The museum is a must see, but check te hours on line to be sure you can visit.

 

Oh, and I added a video below I did a few years ago of Tenino and the National Parks Highway / Pacific Highway some may enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Dave,

 

That is awesome!!!! So cool that you got to see it in action ... & share that video here with us, thank you! Color me a bit jealous ... & frustrated. Looking at the map, it seems I drove right past Tenino on my way to Seattle WA from Oregon in 2011. Dangumit. Though, I may not have had time to fully enjoy the museum anyway, but still.....

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"Why'd you do it?" __ Reba McEntire __ 'The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia'

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Cort,

 

Thanks for the come back! It was really by happenstance that I saw the press in action. I wanted to talk with one of the volunteers who is in her late 80's about an old route she had followed with her parents in the 1930's, but she wasn't there. As I was looking over some books, with my back to the press, Loren started it up. It sounded a bit like an old stationary steam engine! Loud with lots of clanking.

 

The story of the Tenino wooden money is pretty widely known, at least in the west, but I never figured I would see the original press in action. It is used today to print wooden souvenirs. Some parts are worn from use over 80 plus years, but it still runs like a charm.

 

I should add that the print shop is still there as an operating business on old US 99 (Pacific Highway), and the bank building that has been closed for years has just recently been reopened, complete with the old tellers' cage. It is now an investment firm, stock brokerage. I haven't been inside yet, but that should happen soon.....to look....but no money to invest! :).But then I have my charm and good looks to see me through! :) :)

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Hey Dave,

 

You are welcome! Sometimes, the "spur of the moment" situations are better than those planned.... ;)

 

The wooden souvenirs it prints today ... are those for businesses all across the country, or just in that general area?

 

Enjoy your visit to the bank building!

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"It's half timing, and the other half's luck" __ Michael Buble __ 'Haven't Met You Yet'

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Cort,

 

I think their operation is very limited. As far as I understood, most of what they do is for local events. While I was there Loren was making a batch for their Oregon Trail Days celebration. The press is slow, and a bit dangerous to operate, especially if you get a finger in the press. I saw a few wood souvenirs for sale, but not a whole lot. I will ask the next time I am there.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Dave,

 

OK, cool. Will be interesting to know for sure. Tho, I was suspecting it was a limited-local production. Just curious as to whether or not any of the souvenir wooden nickels I have from various family road trips when I was a kid came from there.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"Ever wonder if it's all for you?" __ Red Hot Chili Peppers __ 'Can't Stop'

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