Richland streets honor veterans

Residents of Tinkle Street in Richland take a lot of ribbing from people who snicker over their street name.

But that snickering prompted one resident to find out more about her neighborhood's past -- and to discover that as many as 120 of Richland's streets are named for American war veterans.

Karen Miles, who lives on the street, said the topic came up at an end-of-summer picnic neighborhood residents throw each year.

"Anybody in Richland who grew up here knows if you grew up on the street, you were teased about it," she said. "Everybody still jokes about the street."

Miles started with a simple question -- whether the street really was supposed to be called "Tinkle." She learned the name in fact was a misspelling of "Tinkel" and that the street was named back in the 1940s in honor of Lt. Otto Spaulding Tinkel, a World War I-era veteran whose 1934 death from a fractured skull in New York City remains an unsolved mystery.

Researching her own street led to the revelation that the Army Corps of Engineers and Manhattan Project District named 120 streets in the town they built to support the Hanford site for veterans from wars throughout American history -- George Washington Way being an obvious example.

But many of the veterans are little-known to Richland residents, and so Miles and local veterans groups decided to have markers made to tell people about their neighborhoods' history and the men for whom their streets are named.

The first markers -- the ones recognizing Tinkel, pronounced "Tin-KELL" -- will be placed in three spots on the street at an "In Honor Of" ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday at 2015 Tinkle St.

Miles said city staffers have told her it's unlikely the city will change the street's name to fix the spelling, but the markers will get it right.

The markers are 4 feet tall with a brown base and tan lettering to look like other state or national historic markers. Each one gives the name of the street, the name of the veteran for which it is named, the birth and death years of the veteran, what military branch and war in which he served, and a description of his service.

For example, the marker recognizing Lt. Col. Harry M. Trippe says that he was a graduate of West Point, commanded the 308th Engineers, 83rd Division, Third Army Corps during World War I in France, and was presented the Army Distinguished Service medal for his service in the Meuse-Argonne offensive during that war.

Tinkel is the closest the group could find to a veteran with a local connection. He graduated from high school in Spokane and his father later moved to Walla Walla. Tinkel also graduated from West Point and later became an instructor at the famed academy before his death in 1934.

The marker project will be done in batches of 12 signs as the group raises money. The first 12 will recognize Tinkel and Trippe, as well as:

w Lt. Dennis Hart Mahan, who graduated first in his class at West Point in 1824 and taught mathematics and engineering and wrote a number of West Point textbooks before committing suicide in 1871 when he learned of his recommended retirement.

w Maj. William Louis Marshall, a noted Army engineer for whom Marshall Pass in Colorado is named following after he discovered the pass during an 1873 survey.

w Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, who served in the Civil War under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and died at the Battle of Atlanta -- the second-highest ranking Union officer killed during the war and the only commander of a Union army to die in the field, according to Wikipedia.

Each street will have two or three markers, all placed on private property with the consent of the property owners.

The total project cost is estimated at $9,000 to $11,000. And all of the money is coming from private fundraising, Miles said.

The project is co-sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7952, AMVETS Post 397, Richland's Planning & Redevelopment department, the Army Corps of Engineers and community residents such as Miles.

To donate, call AMVETS Post 397 at 943-9499 or Miles at 946-2422.