In the Beginning…
The Spokane and other nearby tribes were the first people to reside in this area. They valued the abundant resources and pleasant climate. Many tribes often gathered in the area of Spokane Falls and at the confluence of the Spokane and Little Spokane rivers. See their websites for more information.
In 1810, David Thompson started Spokane House for the Northwest Company at the confluence of the two rivers, to trade for furs. This outpost was the first permanent settlement in what is now the state of Washington.
Sometime in the mid-1800’s, a log hay shed was built near the Spokane House, probably by Native Americans or perhaps a very early settler. The log hay shed is still standing, the oldest building in Spokane County and perhaps in all of Washington State.
In the late 1800’s, settlers established farms along the Lower Spokane river. Dairy cattle were raised in large numbers. The outbuildings of one of these farms, now a part of Riverside State Park, can still be seen across from the Spokane House next to the Little Spokane River.
Development of the Spokane area was slow but steady. By the early 1900’s, Spokane was a major city in the Pacific Northwest. The Olmstead Brothers helped encourage the development of a system of city parks and parkways which still benefit the people in this area.
Riverside State Park came into being in 1933 and 1934 due to the foresight of the local community, the gifts of land of a few individuals and Washington Water Power (now called Avista), and the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The donated land, centered mostly in the Bowl and Pitcher area, became the foundation for what is now Riverside State Park
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the New Deal to give young, unemployed men a chance to earn a working wage and to contribute directly to the needs of a growing nation. Camp Seven Mile was established as their base camp. The CCC constructed many of the facilities that make Riverside State Park so special: the swinging bridge at the Bowl and Pitcher; and Aubrey L. White Parkway on both sides of the river, and the rock walls alongside.
The Indian Painted Rocks area was added to the park due to a generous donation in the mid-century.
Over the years, park land continued to grow through donations, military land transfers, and occasional purchases. In the late 1980’s, Spokane County and Washington State Parks were able to add nearly 2000 acres to the park by preserving land along the Little Spokane River, now the Little Spokane River Natural Area. Owned by the county and State Parks, this area is managed by Riverside State Park.
The Centennial Trail came into existence in the late 1980’s due to the generous assistance of the Inland Empire Paper Company, Spokane County, the city of Spokane, Washington State Parks, and numerous other businesses and individuals. The trail winds from Idaho to Nine Mile Falls.
In the early 1990’s, over 600 acres of land was acquired along the south shore of Lake Spokane/ Long Lake towards the west end of the lake. Now called the Fisk Property, this area provides a very special (currently undeveloped) experience for those who visit.
In early 2001, a full section of land was purchased by Spokane County with Conservation Futures money to protect prime cultural and resource habitat area above the Little Spokane River. Currently called the Edburg/Bass property, this land, northwest of the Painted Rocks, is now managed by Riverside State Park as part of the Little Spokane River Natural Area.