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History of Spokane, Washington

The Spokane area was originally inhabited by the Spokane Indian Tribe. The area of Spokane is rich with waterfalls and rivers that attracted the attention of the Canadian North West Company in 1810. That year the company established a fur trading post that they named the Spokane House. The structure was located along the shore to provide easy access to the water supply necessary to meet their daily needs. Nearly 70 years after the trading post was erected, spanning a couple of generations of fur trading, settlers began a migration to the area in 1871. The one feature that made the area a major attraction to the newcomers was the waterfalls that they could use to generate electricity. The falls provided the way to easily implement the new technology, and their abundance made harnessing the natural energy simple. The development of new technology gained the interest of people from all over. The increase of newcomers induced city officials to provide an official name for their Washington settlement, hence naming it Spokane Falls. The settlement was named after the Indian tribe that inhabited the area prior to the trading post. In 1881, a rail line connected Spokane Falls to several surrounding cities. That year, silver and other metals were discovered. Those discoveries brought settlers and businesses from all over Washington with a desire to get rich quickly. As more people came to the area, it became apparent that an official government and a set of laws were needed. That was accomplished in 1891 when the town became a city. Spokane was supported by a diverse industrial base, including metal products, food products, printed materials, lumber and wood products, and fabricated metal goods. The city is currently home to a variety of institutions of higher learning, including Fort Wright College, Gonzaga University, and the Whitworth College. Spokane also is home to the Pacific Northwest Indian Center, which features manuscripts, displays of Indian culture, and Western art. Along with the Indian Center, Spokane hosts the Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum, Fort Wright College Museum, and Grace Campbell Memorial Museum.