Fort Spokane

Fort Spokane feature layers of fascinating and often heart-breaking history. The site, now administered by the National Park Service and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, began life as the last Army Fort built on the American frontier. It later became an Boarding School for the forced assimilation of Native American children. After that is served as a tuberculosis sanatorium for native men and women with that often deadly disease.

This virtual tour shares some of the stories embedded in the very bricks of this historic site. And if you would like to plan a visit, Fort Spokane is about an hour north west of downtown Spokane, and would make an excellent day trip.

The Lake Roosevelt Partnership is a collaboration between Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and the History Department at Eastern Washington University. Since 2012 these partners have worked together to tell the stories of the park to a wider audience while training the next generation of park interpreters in digital storytelling.

Welcome to Fort Spokane

As Washington Territory began to grow and attract more settlers looking to make a better life, conflicts between settlers and Indian tribes escalated. Unlike the fixed settlements of pioneers, who viewed land as private property, tribal communities…

The Army Years at Fort Spokane

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…

Officers' Row

You are now standing in front of the foundation of what once was an officer's house. The officers and enlisted men of Fort Spokane were divided by a wide social gulf, as evident with the difference in their pay and living quarters.  A…

Risky Fun

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…

Indian Scouts at Fort Spokane

Like most Army posts on the western frontier, Fort Spokane relied on native scouts. Indian scouts interpreted, guided soldiers through the wilderness of eastern Washington, and brought back vital intelligence to the Army. At Fort Spokane, being an…

The Workshop Building

The workshop building was originally built in 1885 and cost the government $1,013.78. The 136 foot by 24 foot structure housed the blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, paint shop, tanner and wheelwright shop. All of these shops provided the means to…

Weapons of War at Fort Spokane

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…

The Quartermaster Stable

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…

The Fort Spokane Brewery

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…

Desertion at Fort Spokane

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…

The Box

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,…

Baseball at Fort Spokane

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…

Boarding School Days

What you see in front of you is where the barracks would have stood. While the ground floor was used to contain the kitchen, mess hall, wash room, library and non-commissioned officer's rooms, the upper floor was devoted to the enlisted…

Chief Skolaskin

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…

The Orchard at Ft. Spokane

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,…

A Snapshot in the Life of John McAdams Webster

It was a long way from West Point to the remote frontier post of Ft. Spokane. John McAdams Webster, from Warrenton, Ohio, began his military career by joining the 197th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in 1865. Though he was only 16 years old, Webster was…

Bertha Finley Brisbois

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…

Tuberculosis at Fort Spokane

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.…

Sanitarium Incinerator

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…

Crooked Agent

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…
This tour was edited and polished by Logan Camporeale.