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A Welcome to the Inland and Pacific Northwest 

12-09-2015 17:35

In 1974 Spokane, Wash., hosted a world’s fair—EXPO’74: Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment. Spokane was, at the time, the smallest city to ever host a world’s fair. While the success of the fair’s advocacy for a new era of environmental responsibility is debatable, the fair represented a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit that made Spokane the “capital” of the Inland Empire at the turn of the century—an empire built on the convergence of transcontinental railroads, military expansion, and exploitation of the agricultural and mining resources of eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and southeastern British Columbia.

The legacy of this entrepreneurial spirit is evident in the rich architectural history of Spokane—the Davenport Hotel, the mansions of the Browne’s Addition Historic District, the Fox Theater, the Spokane Review building, and the Federal Building and Post Office. Over the past three decades, Spokane has seen many of these historic properties take on new life through the leadership of its business, development,and historic preservation communities, utilizing the historic preservation tax credits and federal grant programs such as Save America’s Treasures.

Running through the city and linking it to the great river systems of the Northwest, the Spokane River provides a variety of recreational opportunities, including Riverfront Park, the legacy of EXPO ’74.

Spokane has a rich tradition of celebrating its diverse cultures. The Northwest Museum of History and Culture (formerly the Cheney Cowles Museum) together with the Eastern Washington Historical Society tell the stories of thousands of years of Native American cultures in the interior Northwest, early contact between Euro-American and Native American groups, missionaries, miners, Indian Wars, and 20th-century dam and reclamation projects.

Beyond Spokane are opportunities to experience these cultures and stories firsthand. To the east, north, and south are the traditional lands and reservations of the Coeur d’Alene, the Spokane, the Yakima, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Tribal communities are now strong voices in the economies of the Inland Empire and the management of the natural and cultural resources that have traditionally been the foundation of their cultures—salmon, clean water, and air. The Mission of the Sacred Heart, constructed between 1850 and 1853 by Jesuit missionaries and members of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, is an hour west of Spokane, preserved through the collaboration of the state and tribe in Idaho’s Old Mission State Park.

Follow the Spokane River to its confluence with Lake Roosevelt, formed by the building of Grand Coulee Dam on the mighty Columbia River, one of the greatest construction projects of the 20th century. Banks Lake, south of Grand Coulee, holds the waters that supply enormous reclamation projects managed by the Bureau of Reclamation which support farming communities throughout central Washington. The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and is visited by 1.5 million recreationists annually. A new national park unit, Ice Age Floods, traces the path of the gigantic Ice Age floods from Lake Missoula to the Columbia in the geology of the scablands and coulees. As you travel south into the Palouse region along the Palouse Scenic Byway with its rolling hills of wheat, green in the spring, golden in the late summer, you will encounter small communities such as Colfax and Dayton that support the ranches and farms of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, tying them into the network of railroads that carry their products to market in the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. Dayton is home to the oldest operating courthouse and railroad depot in Washington and actively promotes its history through events, main street shopping, and Victorian bed-and-breakfasts.

Further south of Spokane is Pullman, Washington, and, just an hour across state lines, Moscow, Idaho, homes respectively of Washington State University and the University of Idaho. In addition to their long traditions of academic learning and football rivalries, both communities have preserved their history in their homes and main streets.

South and west of Spokane, as you approach the Columbia and the Snake Rivers and their tributaries, south central Washington has become one of the great wine growing areas in the country. Walla Walla, once known for its production of asparagus and Walla Walla sweet onions, has experienced a resurgence of its historic downtown with the growth of wineries and bedand- breakfasts. Walla Walla is also the home of the historic Whitman Mission, another National Park Service site, which tells the story of the clash of cultures and resulting tragedy when missionaries Narcissa and Marcus Whitman set up their mission to proselytize the Cayuse Indians.

These are just a few of the stories associated with Spokane and the Inland Empire that I had the privilege to learn about and help preserve during my years with the National Park Service in the Pacific Northwest. My colleagues in the NPS, the state, tribal and local historic preservation offices, the Washington Trust, and Idaho Heritage Foundation, and all of the many historic societies in the towns throughout Eastern Washington welcome you and encourage you to experience our rich and varied history while participating in the National Preservation Conference this fall.

Beyond Boundaries in the Inland and Pacific Northwest
Table of Contents

A Welcome to the Inland and Pacific Northwest by Stephanie Toothman
Preserving Our History in the Wild: The Saga of the Monte Wolfe Cabin by Congressman John Garamendi
Preservation Meets Energy Efficiency by Kim Pearman-Gillman
The Power of Preservation: Historic Properties and Renewable Energy in the Northwest by Jenna Gaston
Breathing Life into a Ghost Town: The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center by Gwendolyn Trice
Local Foods on Main Streets by Sarah Hansen
Protecting Bristol Bay: A Cultural Landscape and Home to the Sacred Sayak by Verner Wilson
Conservation of a Cultural Landscape: Maintaining a Future for a Tribe’s Heritage by Kevin J. Lyons

Publication Date: Spring 2012


Author(s):Stephanie Toothman