RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — Local U-Haul Team Members, Ridgefield city officials and proud community members gathered recently near the roundabout at the main entrance of town. The new Ridgefield sign sits here for all passersby to observe.
It declares: “Welcome to Ridgefield, Birthplace of U-Haul.”
Location, Location, Location
The sign is stationed in a prime location along Pioneer Street. Before, the old U-Haul sign welcomed people to town. Now, the new sign is more eye-catching and colorful, replacing the old one.
Now, citizens of Ridgefield can continue their long proud U-Haul history. Most noteworthy, U-Haul sowed its roots in the old Carty milk house. It is on the north side of town and the place of the creation of the first U-Haul trailers.
Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow said: “We’re extremely glad to have U-Haul here with us today, and we’re very proud of the fact that U-Haul was born here in Ridgefield back in 1945.”
Ridgefield Heritage Day
Ridgefield’s Heritage Day was celebration in 2015. The day doubled as a U-Haul 70th anniversary celebration. There, U-Haul representatives presented Onslow and Ridgefield residents with the new sign.
Ridgefield City Council members, Port of Ridgefield commissioners, city manager and several key community members also were on hand for the ceremony. Moreover, they were instrumental in deciding the location for the new sign. After roughly a year of planning, the new sign is up.
“This is where it all started,” Onslow said. “People are always impressed by that. Now, we have a new sign, and we can all be proud of that sign. The old sign was kind of like the old wooden trailers U-Haul used to have. Everything got modernized. We’re growing and you’re growing.”
The Original Sign
First of all, the instillation of original “Welcome to Ridgefield, Birthplace of U-Haul” sign was in 1984. Former Ridgefield Mayor Ralph Kraus, former U-Haul Area District Vice President Jim Martin and other U-Haul pioneers helped install it. A windstorm damaged the original sign beyond repair. Former Ridgefield Mayor Tim Thompson and then-U-Haul marketing company presidents Buzz Olson and Ernie Martin replaced it in 2002.
Because of the previous damage, the latest sign is a combination of acrylic material and aluminum. The materials ensure that it could stand up to Mother Nature.
U-Haul Team Member Darrell McClellan recently celebrated 26 years with the Company. He remembers driving to Ridgefield to visit U-Haul neighborhood dealers. Darrell also remembers seeing the original sign. McClellan went on to play an instrumental role in installing the sign in 2002. He most recently handled operations for constructing the newest sign.
“I am very excited to see this landmark back up so that people entering Ridgefield can learn its history and know that U-Haul Company started here,” McClellan said. “I think it is an important historical fact and a good thing for the community to have.”
Dan Flatten, U-Haul Company of Southern Washington president, remarked at the ceremony. “To think that U-Haul started here in Ridgefield and has grown into more than (21,000) locations across North America is pretty amazing. It’s a huge honor for us to be here today, and to be able to get the sign back up.”
Flatten and his team were alongside U-Haul Company of Portland president Dave Scheafer and his team. During the ceremony, both teams mingled with Ridgefield community members. The group helped pass out 70th anniversary U-Haul hats. The hats were so popular that a city council member requested to have their own hat made. These hats, which showcase Ridgefield as the birthplace of U-Haul, arrived two weeks later.
In conclusion, Onslow noted “people may not be familiar with the city of Ridgefield, but they sure know U-Haul. And the fact that U-Haul was born here is a true source of pride for us.”