Sappho from the skies

Sappho is one of those proverbial one horse towns located at the junction of route 101 and route 113 which takes one to the northwest corner of the continental United States. There are signs every 1/4 mile for 2 miles before you get into town in either direction, but the town itself seems to be a few houses and a gas station.

Still, Sappho does have an interesting name. After all, it is named after a famous lesbian, the ancient Greek poetess, Sappho. Amusingly, few people in the area seem to be aware of this. We had a charming talk with a ranger who presumed that Sappho was a local Indian name. Apparently, the town was named by the original family that settled here in the late 19th century, and they were fond of Sappho's poetry.

It is uniquely appropriate for Washington State because one of Sappho's most famous love poems speaks of "the sweet apple blushing upon the topmost bough", and Washington as you know is famous for its sweet apples. Of course, Sappho was describing a lovely young woman, who remained unmarried later than was customary, and Washington is proud of its fruit, but we leave the connections to your imagination.

Shown above is the Sappho Maiden. If you take the turn off 101 at the junction you will see her on the left side of the road. No, there is no formal sign, but we can only assume that she is some representation of Sappho.

Sappho may have been one of the models for Cecily in Northern Exposure. Another model may have been Santa Fe.

Ancient Greek Girl's Schools

Sappho ran a girl's school back in ancient Greece and had a thing for the girls under her tutelage. This is not the only odd tale from those ancient girl's schools. After all, Achilles, who had been dipped in the River Styx to attain invulnerability (save for his heel), spent some time in just such a girl's school, though the girls there may have had different amusements. Achilles might have been able to pass as a girl if he didn't have much of a beard, but he didn't have any sexual identity problems, as Homer's Odysseus demonstrated in the Iliad.

Of course, if you really want girl's school action, check out the girls of St. Xavier's in medieval Venice. They not only knew how to have a good time, but they dabbled, so to speak, in politics.

How to Get There

Take route 101 west from Port Angeles, go past the Elwha turn off, past Lake Crescent, past the Sol Duc turn off and keep going. You can't miss it on your way to Forks.

Kaleberg Hints

Updated - April 2005

It is sad but true. The Texaco station in Sappho is gone. The building has burned down, but the pumps remain as a toxic reminder. However, you will be pleased to learn that Sappho herself is still standing, and that the destruction of the Texaco station and general store means that you can get a better view of her from route 101.

Updated - March 2006

The Sappho Maiden is GONE! This is the worst news yet. Is Sappho going underground? We were driving past the junctioon the other day and as best we can tell, the Sappho Maiden has been removed. This is a sad loss to those of us who appreciate carved statues of the "Guy Too Long Alone In The Woods" school. We are going to try to find out more, but right now, things do not look promising.

Updated - July 2006

We received an email from a Mrs. O informing us that the destruction of the Sappho maiden was actually only one of a series of crimes against a number of North Olympic icons. On July 1st, she wrote:

I agree that it is sad that the maiden was removed, but worse yet is why. I live in the area and we were saddened by a series of chainsaw vandalism that occured about 6 months ago. I don't know which came first but a significant piece of the totem pole in Forks was cut out, making it necessary that it be removed until repairs were made. It has not yet been replaced. The sappho maiden was beheaded, so it was removed, I have no knowledge of whether the head was found or if repair plans have been made. I also believe that the running fish in Clallam Bay was damaged in some way, he too has been removed, but I think he was repaired already and replaced. Sorry to give bad news, but I figured I would answer your question.

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