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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Dayton in Columbia County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
 

City of Dayton

Early History

 
 
City of Dayton Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2016
1. City of Dayton Marker
Inscription.  
Columbia County Courthouse: 1887
Washington’s Oldest Courthouse.
Construction of the Territorial Courthouse was completed two years before Washington became a state in 1889.

Designed by local architect W.H. Burrows, the courthouse was built using Dexter brick and colossal timbers of fir and pine hauled from the Blue Mountains by oxcart.

Interest in the county’s rich history spurred a decade of citizen effort to save the building. Restoration was completed in 1993.

Decorative elements including the cupola, statuary and ornamental stucco (removed 1930-1950) were restored. Iron railings are original; American eagles and blind justices are vintage but not original.

Beginnings
Dayton’s townsite is on an ancient trade corridor known as the Celilo Falls or Nez Perce Trail.

Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery passed through the heart of Dayton near where you are standing on their return from the Pacific Ocean May 2, 1806.

European settlers left the area during Indian skirmishes (1855-1858). Stockman Jesse N. Day homesteaded west of town in 1859, then founded
City of Dayton Marker (<i>wide view; Columbia County Courthouse in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2016
2. City of Dayton Marker (wide view; Columbia County Courthouse in background)
Click or scan to see
this page online
Dayton in 1871

Despite five devastating fires in the late 1800’s, Dayton flourished due to logging and farming booms. Agriculture sustained the community through the Great Depression of the 1930’s and remains its lifeblood today.

Dayton Historic Depot: 1881
Oldest existing railroad station in Washington.

Dayton Schools
Eastern Washington’s first public “graded” school was established here in 1880. Dayton High School (1881) was the first public high school in Washington State.

Historic Buildings
Many homes and commercial buildings, the railroad depot and courthouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Columbia County Courthouse Restoration Committee • 2004

 
Erected 2004 by Columbia County Courthouse Restoration Committee.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 46° 19.253′ N, 117° 58.7′ W. Marker is in Dayton, Washington, in Columbia County. Marker is on East Main Street west of North 3rd Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, directly in front of the Columbia County Courthouse, overlooking
Columbia County Courthouse (<i>southwest corner; view from near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2016
3. Columbia County Courthouse (southwest corner; view from near marker)
the courthouse south entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 341 East Main Street, Dayton WA 99328, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Columbia County (here, next to this marker); Columbia County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Railroad Track Park (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Oldest Existing Depot in the State of Washington (about 400 feet away); The Celilo Falls Trail (about 700 feet away); "a good road" (approx. ¼ mile away); Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Homeland (approx. ¼ mile away); Smith Hollow Schoolhouse (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dayton.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large, rectangular, engraved metal tablet, mounted horizontally on waist-high metal posts.
 
Also see . . .
1. Columbia County History. Permanent settlement reached Columbia County in 1859, with claims taken up along the Touchet and Tucannon rivers and along Patit Creek. Henry and Jesse Day arrived from Oregon in March 1859 with a herd of cattle. Jesse Day located a homestead on the Touchet River at the present site of Dayton. Samuel and Margaret Gilbreath arrived in August 1859. Margaret Gilbreath was the first white woman to locate in the county. In March 1860 she gave birth to a daughter, the first pioneer child born in the county. A number of wagon roads were built through the county in the 1860s. Settlers slowly drifted into the county in the 1860s, but in the early 1870s settlement rapidly increased.
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(Submitted on February 2, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Columbia County Courthouse. Dayton, the county seat of Columbia County, was platted in 1871. Development of the town quickly followed. A square of land was reserved for county purposes in the 1870s, but the only building built on the square in its early years was a cheap wooden jail. County officers were forced to use rented rooms in which trials were also held. Yet the citizens of Columbia County were slow to approve construction of a courthouse, twice voting down a building much less expensive than the one ultimately built. (Submitted on February 2, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2019. It was originally submitted on February 2, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 207 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 2, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 29, 2022