You are looking at the very spot where the first ferry crossing over the Spokane River was located from 1854-1866. The area was once a well-known ford used by area tribes for generations, but in 1854 a former employee of the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) named Antoine Plante settled here and established a cable-ferry crossing. Plante (a French Canadian/Gros Ventre Indian born around 1810) previously traversed the Spokane region as a fur trapper for HBC, familiarizing himself with the area. Plante's settlement and business were both established decades before the incursion of white settlement during the 1880s.
The story of Plante's Ferry began in 1853 when a surveying expedition was formed in order to escort the first governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens, from Fort Benton Montana to the new territorial capitol in Olympia. The surveying crews, which were named the "Spokane Invincibles" and "Stevens' Guards," were to scout new routes for the construction of wagon trails and railroads, and due to his experience and knowledge of the region, Antoine Plante was picked to guide the expedition. It was during that trip when Stevens' survey team decided that a new road would pass through this very location. Immediately after the expedition, Plante returned to the fording spot on the river in order to establish his ferry service which he correctly assumed would be needed once the new wagon roads were finished.
The Mullan and Colville Roads - which were built for the purposes of westward settlement and for military transportation - both utilized Plante's Ferry, giving him a steady stream of income until 1866 when the first bridge spanning the Spokane River was constructed a few miles upstream. With the loss of his main source of income Plante moved to Northwest Montana in 1876 where he died in 1890. He was interred at a cemetery near the St. Ignatious Mission where he currently rests in an unmarked grave.
Plante's Ferry was more than just an easy means to access the other side of the Spokane River, it was an essential aspect of Northwest settlement and westward expansion. Plante exploited the fact that he created the only safe river crossing in the area - as demonstrated by the amount he charged customers to use the ferry. For example, he charged $4.00 for every wagon with two animals and an extra $.50 per additional animal. Plante is also credited with planting the first apple orchard in the Valley - a business that would eventually make Spokane Valley the state's foremost fruit growing region.
In the 1920s, Spokane Valley resident and local historian Seth Woodard uncovered the remnants of the posts used for the ferry's cable tow. In 1938, Woodard and the Spokane County Pioneer Society sponsored the erection of the 24,000 lb. monument dedicated to Plante's Ferry and prominently stands alongside Upriver Drive at the same spot Woodard discovered the ferry's cable post. In 1952 Spokane County created Plante's Ferry Park which is now home to one of the area's largest sports complexes.