In 1988, nearly 4,000 people turned out to watch a touch-football game in the tiny town of Colfax, Washington. It was one of the biggest events in the town’s history; there were even three TV stations on hand to capture the moment. The big deal? The game was a rematch from a meeting 50 years earlier between Colfax and its neighboring rivals, St. John.
Colfax lost that 1938 match to 14-0, but the next meeting 50 years later had a better outcome with Colfax winning 6-0. In commemoration of that long-time-coming victory, the Codger Pole, a 65-foot-tall chainsaw-carved wooden sculpture was erected.
Artist Jonathan LaBenne was reportedly offered $10,000 (although other sources say the offer was as much as $150,000) to create the pole, which he constructed from four cedar logs and features carved faces of the 51 players who competed in the rematch and the two team mascots.
The pole is an important monument for the town. The rematch was a vindication of sorts. Not only did Colfax lose the original game, but it was a tough loss. A dropped touchdown pass in the fourth quarter had haunted John Crawford, an original player who at the time of the rematch was a well-known actor, for decades.
Crawford was among the organizers of the rematch, which brought together these old rivals, with one small exception: “Since most of the players from the 1938 game were either dead or couldn’t play because of their age,” one player told the Spokesman-Review, “the requirement was if you were 60 years old or older and had played for either school, then you could play.”
In 2015, The Codger Pole underwent a restoration to bring the attraction back to its glory days.
Know Before You Go
On Hwy 195, between Pullman and Spokane.