Sunday, March 26, 2023
March 26, 2023

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Clark Asks: The fate of the totem pole at closed eatery piques interest

By , Columbian Metro Editor

The Totem Pole Restaurant has long since given up its place “On the 99 strip” to new development, but memories of the landmark eatery are lasting longer than a slice of its deep-dish Chehalem blackberry pie or bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Specifically, what happened to the totem pole?

A reader named Debbie posted that question recently to Clark Asks, The Columbian’s reader-guided reporting project. Her question — “What was the history of the totem pole that was at the old Totem Pole Restaurant at the corner of 78th Street and Highway 99? Where did it end up?” — received half the votes cast when we asked readers which of three questions our reporters should pursue first.

The story, written by reporter Calley Hair, is scheduled to run Saturday in the Community section. And as it turns out, the answer is a bit more complicated than one might think.

The two other questions were popular with readers, as well.

The question “What’s with the creepy, abandoned building in the Providence Academy parking lot?” came in second place in voting, while the question “Why were signs providing a speed and the message ‘slow down’ added to the corner of Northeast 18th Street and 192nd Avenue?” came in third.

If your favorite didn’t end up the top vote-getter, don’t despair. Runners-up often end up in future voting rounds, as did the question about the creepy building near the Providence Academy, or they are reported as time allows.

In fact, we’ve already started reporting the creepy building story. Expect to see it soon.

We most recently had reporter Jeffrey Mize investigate a question about whether signs placed in public rights of way advertising things such as roofing, gutter cleaning and painting are in violation of city or county code. The answer, which was published Saturday, is that most of those signs are in fact illegal, but enforcement efforts to fight them are limited.

Previously, we’ve explored the future of Vancouver’s Water Works Park and the fate of its amphitheater, discovered the purpose of a mysterious building near Battle Ground, and found out what development plans are in the works for a parcel at the corner of Northeast Highway 99 and Northeast 117th Street.

All of those questions came from readers. Got a question of your own? Visit the Clark Asks page at and let us know about a place, person or issue in Clark County that mystifies or intrigues you. We’ll do our best to find the answer.