MOXEE — A new work of art in Moxee combines hops, the Yakima River and American Indian heritage to honor the town’s history.
The work of landscape architecture titled “Valley of the Hops; Land of the Tules” features a meandering concrete pathway surrounded by flora native to Central Washington and angled poles reaching up out of the ground.
The path represents the Yakima River, while the poles represent two things: The structures used for more than a century for growing hops, and tules, a native tall grass that was used by Yakama Indians to weave baskets.
“These poles remind us of that legacy and that history we have,” said Mark Roy, a Moxee-area farmer who worked on the project with his daughter, Katie.
More than $25,000 was donated for the project entirely from local farming families and businesses. Other contributions came in the form of donations of materials or labor.
Roy said his family had long wanted to dedicate a public work to the area’s history. They’re a part of it: Roy Farms has been growing hops for 106 years in Moxee.
He said he had his eye on a particular spot at the edge of Moxee City Park, and the City Council last year approved the design and gave him permission to construct it there.
“It’s kind of been my dream and vision to do this for the last few years,” Roy said.
The sculpture, which was dedicated at a ceremony Saturday, includes small plaques recognizing the farmers and businesses that paid for the work.
According to local history, the origin of the town’s name came from an American Indian word pronounced “Mook-see” that means “land of the tules.”
Tules, which grow abundantly along the Yakima River, are still harvested in some areas. The land’s original inhabitants used them for weaving baskets or mats, as well as for canoes and roofing on lodges.
Tule baskets also were used by some of the French Canadian families who settled in the Moxee area in the late 1800s. Hops were historically grown on individual wood poles before growers later developed a trellis system incorporating wires.