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

Welcome to Fort Spokane

Army Fort and Indian Boarding School

Welcome to Fort Spokane Marker image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Thomas P. Martin, September 13, 2016
1. Welcome to Fort Spokane Marker
Inscription.  This area was a U.S. Army fort from 1880-1898 and became an Indian boarding school from 1900-1907. Then the fort served as a hospital and offices before being abandoned in 1929.

Explore the area, take a hike, come to the visitor center, and learn more about what happened here.

Some questions – and answers – about Fort Spokane
Why was a fort located here?

Fort Spokane was built here to separate settlers to the south and reservation lands to the north. The area was very flat, forming a plain where the military could lay out an organized fort complex. There were ample natural resources nearby: an annually flowing spring and trees on the hillsides for lumber. A road to the south gave access to the railroad for supplies.

How many buildings and how many soldiers were here?
There were 45 principle buildings at the fort. This once resembled a small town. During the military period, there were as many as 400 people living at the fort; 300 soldiers and 100 civilians to support the fort's day-to-day operations.

What did the soldiers do?
Life for Fort Spokane soldiers was often
Spokane/Colville students at Fort Spokane Indian School image. Click for full size.
Unknown via University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections L94-28.2 (public domain)
2. Spokane/Colville students at Fort Spokane Indian School
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boring, lacking adventure or heroics. Most soldiers were inexperienced recruits and were paid very little. Marching, drilling, target practice, and building construction filled their days. Popular diversions were hunting, fishing, swimming, and visiting the brewery.

Did any soldiers die in battle?
The fort saw almost no action during its time as a post from 1880-1898. Soldiers spent most of their time defending local tribes from encroaching settlers who wanted to poach game, mine, or build homes illegally on the reservations.

What was the Indian Boarding School?
Fort Spokane Indian Boarding School, founded in 1900, was one of almost 150 Indian boarding schools established in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Boarding schools carried out a federal policy of coerced assimilation of Native American children.

Children from the nearby Spokane and Colville reservations were taken from their homes and forced to attend the boarding school. Children, some as young as five, were kept away from their families for nine months. The intent was to strip them of their native culture. The memories and scars of that time resonate to this day in Native American communities.

Where did the buildings go?
When the government abandoned the fort in 1929, the buildings weren't considered historically important.
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Most were taken apart during the Great Depression and World War II and used as building materials for homes. Times were tough and the government set up a bidding process for the quality lumber. Many area residents grew up in homes made from Fort Spokane.

The grounds were transferred to the National Park Service in the 1960s and the four remaining buildings were restored.
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EducationForts and CastlesNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1880.
Location. 47° 54.184′ N, 118° 18.531′ W. Marker is in Fort Spokane, Washington, in Lincoln County. Marker can be reached from Washington Route 25, 0.1 miles north of Miles Road, on the left when traveling west. Marker is by parking lot for the Fort Spokane Visitor Center and Museum in Lake Roosevelt National Recreational Area. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 44150 District Office Ln, Davenport WA 99122, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Spokane (a few steps from this marker); Fort Spokane History (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line).
Credits. This page was last revised on April 29, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 28, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 134 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on April 28, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   2. submitted on April 29, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 22, 2023