Spokane, Spokane County, Washington

 
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Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern Washington. It is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County, as well as the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 110 miles south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles from the Washington-Idaho border, and 271 miles east of Seattle.

David Thompson explored the Spokane area and began European settlement with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company’s Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington and the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. In the late 1800s, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The Spokane area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Spokane’s economy has traditionally been natural resource based, however, the city’s economy has diversified to encompass other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors.

The city of Spokane (then known as "Spokane Falls") was settled in 1871 and officially incorporated as a city in 1881. The city's name is drawn from the Native American tribe known as the Spokane, which means "Children of the Sun" in Salish. The name is often mispronounced "Spo-CAIN", while the correct pronunciation is "Spo-CAN". Spokane's official nickname is the "Lilac City", named after the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century. Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought major settlement to the Spokane area.

The Inland Northwest was first explored by explorer-geographer David Thompson, working as head of the North West Company's Columbia Department. Crossing what is now the U.S.– Canadian border from British Columbia, Thompson wanted to expand the North West Company further south in search of furs, primarily beaver. After establishing the Kullyspell House and Saleesh House trading posts in what is now Idaho and Montana, Thompson wanted to expand further west. In 1810, Thompson sent out trappers, Jacques Raphael Finlay and Finan McDonald to the Spokane River to build a trading post in eastern Washington that would exchange with the local Spokane and Colville Indians.

At the confluence of the Little Spokane and Spokane, Finlay and McDonald built a new fur trading post, which was the first long-term European settlement in Washington state. This trading post known as the Spokane House, or simply "Spokane", was in operation from 1810 to 1826. The Spokane House, operated by the British North West Company and, later, the Hudson's Bay Company, was the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. When the Hudson's Bay Company absorbed the North West Company in 1821, operations at Spokane House eventually shifted to Fort Colville; afterward the company still remained active near Spokane.

Joint American–British occupation of Oregon Country, in effect since the Treaty of 1818, ended with the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846. The first American settlers, squatters J.J. Downing and S.R. Scranton, built a cabin and established a claim at Spokane Falls in 1871. Together they built a small sawmill on a claim near the south bank of the Spokane Falls. James N. Glover and Jasper Matheney, Oregonians passing through the region in 1873, recognized the value of the Spokane River and its falls. They realized the investment potential and bought the claims of 160 acres and the sawmill from Downing and Scranton for a total of $4,000. Glover and Matheney knew that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company had received a government charter to build a main line across this northern route. Glover later became known as the "Father of Spokane".

On October 21, 1880, Camp Spokane was established by U.S. Army troops under Lt. Col. Henry Clay Merriam at a location 56 miles northwest of Spokane at the junction of the Columbia and Spokane Rivers. The camp location was strategic, having the intended goals of protecting construction of the Northern Pacific Railway and securing a place for U.S. settlement.

By 1881, the Northern Pacific Railway was completed, bringing major European settlement to the area. The city of Spokan Falls (the "e" was added in 1883 and "Falls" dropped in 1891) was officially incorporated as a city of about 1,000 residents in 1881. Glover became the founder and "Father of Spokane". The city's population ballooned to 19,922 in 1890, and 36,848 in 1900 with the arrival of the railroads. The railroad lured settlers from as far away as Finland, Germany, and England and as close as Minnesota and the Dakotas. By 1910, the population hit 104,000; the building of the Northern Pacific, allowed Spokane to eclipse Walla Walla as the commercial center of the Inland Northwest.

Spokane's growth continued unabated until August 4, 1889, when a fire, now known as The Great Fire, began shortly after 6:00 p.m. and destroyed the city's downtown commercial district. Due to technical problems with a pump station, there was no water pressure in the city when the fire started. In an effort to impede the fire's growth, firefighters began demolishing buildings with dynamite. The fire continued despite this as the flames leaped over the cleared spaces and created their own firestorm. When volunteer firefighters attempted to quench the flames, they found their hoses were unusable. Eventually winds died down and the fire exhausted of its own accord. In the fires' aftermath, 32 blocks of Spokane's downtown were destroyed and one person was killed. City Homepage

 

 

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