Spokane County, Washington
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Spokane County boasts a rich history dating back to the mid 1800's. The geographic makeup of the county went through many, many changes between 1860 and 1883, as our chronology of Spokane County history shows.
The historic Spokane County Courthouse, completed in 1895, boasts a rich and interesting history of its own.
There are many other sites available for additional information on specific areas or events throughout our region. Please check out our list of history reference sites for more information.

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Situated east of the Cascade Range in Washington and on the western slope of the Coeur d'Alene Mountains next to the Idaho-Washington boundary, Spokane County is bordered mostly by township and range lines, except for a small section of the western boundary, where the line is purely arbitrary, and for a 20-mile section of the northern boundary formed by the Spokane River. Spokane County contains 1,756 square miles. It has a maximum length north and south of 54 miles and a maximum width east and west of 36 miles. In point of geographical size, it is the average Washington county, there being 19 counties which are smaller and 19 counties which are larger. In point of age, it is one of the oldest counties, having been created in 1858, but not organized until 1860, only six years after the creation of Washington Territory. Because of its annexation to Stevens County at one time, however, Spokane County was non-existent for 15 years. (Excerpted from Inventory of the County Archives of Washington No. 32 Spokane County, 1941.)

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Historical Dates and Maps
(Excerpted from Inventory of the County Archives of Washington No. 32 Spokane County, 1941.)
  • 1843 Map of Spokane Region circa 1843
  • 1851 Map of Spokane Region circa 1851
  • 1854 Map of Spokane Region circa 1854
  • 1858 On January 29, 1858, Spokane County was created by an act passed by the Territorial Assembly. View Map
  • 1860 First Spokane County government was really organized. Pinkney City, a small trading post near Colville, was first county seat. On Feb 15, 1860, the county commissioners assembled at Pinkney City and proceeded to locate the first county road Taken from the Stevens County, Auditor's Vault Record, the proceedings read: "Commencing at the ferry on the Columbia River opposite the mouth of Kettle River; running from thence to Peter Currie's, at the foot of the hill as near a strait (sic) line as practicable; thence following the present wagon road, as near as convenient, to Pinkney City; from thence following the government road to the bridge at "old Peers," leaving the present wagon road at, or near, the bridge, and following an old Indian trail bearing to the right and intersecting the old road running up the valley near George Mose's claim; running up the old road as near as practicable to where the old pack trail leaves the wagon toad to cross Mill river; turning to the right; following said pack-trail, or as near to it as convenient to strangers; running from thence along the pack-trail to the Spokane river." View Map
  • 1861 Jan 9, 1861 Shoshone County created, taking only a small section of Spokane County. View Map
  • 1863 Idaho Territory was created, cutting off two-thirds of Spokane County.
  • 1864 Jan 19, 1864, Spokane County was annexed to Stevens County by act of the Territorial Legislature. Colville was the county seat. The reason for retaining the name Stevens County rather than Spokane County when the two counties were combined was due largely to sentiment honoring General Isaac I. Stevens, by naming the county after him. Stevens, the first Territorial Governor of Washington, had volunteered his services to the Union cause in the Civil War, and was killed in action in Sept. 1862 at the Battle of Chantilly.
  • 1875 Nov. 5, 1875 Law making Spokane Falls the county seat was passed by the Territorial Assembly but was not enforced. The county commissioners opposed this: "That in the opinion of the majority of the Board of County Commissioners, that the Act of 1875, being an amendment to the Act of 1863, an Act repealed by the Act of 1864, permanently locating the county seat at Colville, and consequently null and void. That amendment of 1875 must be of necessity also null and void, and in consequence the Act of 1864, still remains in full force and effect.
  • 1879 Spokane County was again established, after a trip to Olympia by J.N. Glover, known as the 'Father of Spokane". View Map 1 View Map 2
  • 1880First county seat election was held. Confusion as to the outcome of the election ensued, with the city of Cheney taking the county records in dispute. Cheney remained the county seat for six years.
  • 1883 Lincoln County was sub-divided from Spokane County and the present county boundaries were established.
  • 1886 County seat was moved to Spokane after a second election.
  • 1893 Construction of the present County Courthouse began. Its initial cost was $273,600. All of the county officials moved into quarters in the new courthouse by Nov 20, 1895.
  • 1895 All of the county officials moved into quarters in the new courthouse by Nov 20, 1895. It was extensively remodeled in 1946, and a new wing was added in 1956 which cost more than the original building - $525,000.
  • 1885-99 Twenty-two counties were made out of what was originally Spokane County. Five of these are in Idaho, six in Montana, and eleven in Washington.
  • 1941 Road Map of Spokane County 1941
  • 1943 Township Map of Spokane County 1943
  • 1946-1953 The Spokane County Courthouse was extensively remodeled in 1946, and a new wing was added in 1956 which cost more than the original building - $525,000.

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Historical Reference Sites to Visit
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Last Modified On: 11/4/2003
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