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How wooden money saved this small Washington town

Posey Gruener
Chris Hallett holds an original piece of wooden money, printed by the Tenino Chamber of Commerce in February, 1932

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

In December 1931, the only bank in Tenino, Washington, failed. It ran out of money and closed its doors. Suddenly, the residents of the small logging town had a big problem on their hands. They had no currency, no means to do business.

That's when a group of prominent businessmen from the town got together and came up with a simple solution: "Let's print our own money!"

It wasn't the first time a town had come up with the idea. In fact, during the Depression, many towns printed money. But Tenino's money was special, because it was made of wood.

In this story, we learn how Tenino's wooden money became briefly famous, and a lasting collectible.

Posey Gruener is a former KNKX producer who worked on All Things Considered and Sound Effect.