On March 26, 1821 two giant companies merged. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), founded on May 2, 1670, bought out its largest upstart rival in the fur trading business, the North West Company. This merger had lasting effects on the fur trade in the…

Fort Spokane, like any other military fort at the time, was a structured place where officers and enlisted men practiced drills and kept the peace. During their time off, the soldiers were free to get in trouble, and with a brewery just up the hill,…

Missionaries conducted their final service at St. Paul’s Mission on August 14, 1875. Without the stewardship of the clergymen and parishioners the building quickly fell into disrepair. But although the church was no longer in use, locals continued…

In 1862 Louther Meyers arrived in Colville Valley from his home in New York state, determined to make his fortune in the west. He worked as a carpenter for homesteaders and at a flour mill on the Little Pend Oreille River near the village of Hart. By…

Bertha Finley Brisbois was born in 1890, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Her father, John Finley, was a Flathead from Montana and her mother, Annie Lafleur, was Spokane. Bertha was one of the children taken to the Fort Spokane Indian Boarding…

“Everything you need to know about life is in the Coyote stories- if you just listen carefully.” Flathead elder, Joe Cullooyah The Salish-speaking Spokane Indians occupied a wide territory, much of it along the drainages of the Spokane and…

In the early 1900s, tuberculosis was known as the “great white plague,” and at the turn of the century it killed around 450 Americans every day. An infectious disease of the lungs, tuberculosis spreads through the air, usually via coughing fits.…

This jail cell has harbored many a man; frontiersmen, troublesome soldiers, and defiant Indians. One of the most infamous prisoners was the shama q,olá’ skin, known in English as Skolaskin, who founded a new religion among his native…

Just a few decades before the prohibition of alcohol, soldiers stationed at Fort Spokane were thirsty for libations and one man, Bernard Bockemeuhl, decided to take on the job. To the lonely, isolated soldiers stationed at Fort Spokane during the…

For centuries, Kettle Falls was a fishing spot and a gathering place. When Grand Coulee Dam began construction in 1933, thousands of years of history and tradition suddenly changed. By 1940, the waters of Lake Roosevelt began to rise, slowly…

In 1915 tuberculosis struck the Spokane Indians hard. Four natives died and fifty more were suspected of having the disease. In response to the outbreak, the Indian Service used the site of the former boarding school to create a sanitarium for local…

Being an enlisted man in the United States Army at frontier posts throughout the West was not a glamorous or respected occupation. Enlisted soldiers were typically recent European immigrants or lower white class Americans; both came from slums and…

Soldiers need weapons, and in the era of combustible black powder, a safe place to store weapons and ammunition was especially important. Powder magazines like this one were present on every military base. Black powder is inherently dangerous and…

Soldiers packed their bags and wrote farewell letters to their families. The call for war had sounded, and the elements of the 16th infantry regiment stationed at Fort Spokane had been activated for deployment. The year was 1898 and the Spanish…

Enjoying a barbecue and a nice, cold beer with friends and family?  Flicking out a fishing line into the lake for a fish to take a bite?  Are you planning on camping in a RV on the grounds of the old Kettle Falls townsite?  Perhaps are you taking…

Beneath the blue-green waters of Lake Roosevelt lie eleven drowning victims: the towns that were flooded by the rising waters behind the Grand Coulee Dam. Gifford was one of those towns. James Gifford, the town's founder, was born in 1843 in the…

Set on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River approximately 350 feet north of St. Paul's Mission near Kettle Falls, WA is a natural and historic object seeming out of place amidst a landscape of dense Ponderosa pine forest. Large, off black in color,…

In 1880, Fort Spokane was a long way from the centers of white population. The fort was situated on the edge of the Indian reservation to keep Indians on the reservation and keep white encroachment off. Fifty-five miles from the nearest railroad, and…

Between 18,000 and 13,000 years ago, glaciers advanced and retreated over northern Washington. This ice formed a fragile dam on the Clark Fork River, which slowly filled with water, creating glacial Lake Missoula. The lake spanned hundreds of miles…

In 1940, Congress mandated that the Bureau of Reclamation would be granted all the land that would be flooded by Lake Roosevelt, from the banks of the Columbia up to 1310 feet of elevation. But passing the bill was only the beginning. The wording…

Mired in strict routine and with little chance of combat, soldiers at Fort Spokane looked forward to their free time away from the base. The young men stationed at the fort were lucky to have the small town of Miles just across the river. There they…

What happened to the houses, stores, and buildings that were threatened by the rising water of Lake Roosevelt in 1941? Some were torn down and their materials reused. Some were burned. Others, if in good condition, were actually picked up and moved.…

The landscape that lies under Lake Roosevelt today is part of a series of “benchlands,” flat regions separated by steep drops. The soil is fertile, and the nearby Columbia River provided drainage, but without a way to bring more water uphill to…

Starting in 1902, the Indian children at the Fort Spokane boarding school tended this orchard. As part of “civilizing” the natives, the school taught native children to farm. The children, some as young as six years old, had to grow potatoes,…

For years, the term "Indian Agent" was synonymous with corruption, and Albert M. Anderson was a perfect example. At the turn of the century, the “spoils system” was in full effect: the Bureau of Indian Affairs turned a blind eye to agents who…

The tribes that lived near the Columbia River were enthusiastic about the "blackrobes" and their teachings. So much so that Father DeSmet, a Jesuit priest from Belgium, wrote his superiors in 1840 that he needed more priests to minister to the local…

Short on clothes but long on intrigue, Willie Willey and his choice in dress (or lack thereof) made an impression on twentieth century Spokane. Born in 1884, Willis (Willie) Willey grew up in Iowa but moved to Spokane in 1905. As a young twenty…

Hillyard began as a working men’s railroad town with a rough-and-tumble reputation. But families quickly followed and the addition of women and children softened the image of the town. Schools provide the mark of a civilized society, and more than…

Hillyard has always been proud of its history and heritage, as demonstrated in the many painted murals throughout the neighborhood. Let’s take a closer look at some of the Hillyard murals. Hillyard's first mural no longer exists. In 1978, a…