Every day driving past Columbia Park on Highway 240 (If I need to go to Richland)  I see the old Columbia Park Campground.

WHERE WAS IT LOCATED?

The overgrown 'dirty' unkept patch of land west of the Disc Golf Course and just east of Columbia Center North was once a green, fun thriving campground. It opened in the early 1960's shortly before my family moved to Richland in 1966 when I was 3.

Old Campground Columbia Park

MANY PEOPLE TOOK CHEAP VACATIONS THERE

Growing up in the Tri-Cities since 1966, I remember many friends who took "cheap" vacations there during Boat Race Week. People would park the camper or trailer or even tents there, then walk down through the park to watch the qualifying and races for the Columbia Cup.

But as an aging septic system began to break down, the park was closed for good in 2003 as officials decided it was too expensive to keep up.

More of old campground

WHAT ARE THOSE MYSTERIOUS BOXES ON POLES STILL SEEN THERE?

The dirt roads still twist through the old trees and overgrown weeds. Alongside the road are these metal boxes, which stand in poles about 3 feet off the ground. They're actually very old barbeques.

More of old campground

You could load them with briquets, there was a tubed 'screen' on the top, and you could barbeque food. The only mandate was you had to make sure they were out and cold when done, and you were expected to scrape the old coals into a box or garbage bag and throw them away so the next person could use them.

More of old campground

One of the three buildings had restrooms and long ago even a shower area so camping was NOT that rough.

WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF THE PARK?

 As far back as 2014, there were plans to renovate the area and replace it with a playground or park, but nothing has come of it from the private sector. It's not likely it will ever return as a campground because the city of Kennewick says replacing the extensive septic system would cost a LOT of money.

Three buildings that housed the headquarters and some restrooms and showers have long since been abandoned, one of them burned not long ago when a transient snooping around 'accidentally' set fire to some materials inside the structure and it burned.

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Sadly, that end of the park is more well known now for its transient traffic, crime and drug activity than anything else.

So, while people try to figure out what to do with the small portion of the 400 Columbia Park acres that make up the campground, it continues to fall into disarray, and become more of an eyesore.

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