Ice Skating in the Little Spokane River Valley

by Ty Brown Before Wandermere Golf Course was even in existence, the lake on the property was known for its winter pastime of ice skating. As far back as the late 1800s when Francis H. Cook owned the property and continuing through the ownership of Benjamin Laberee, the ice at Wandermere was a destination for wintertime recreation. Eventually with the purchase of the facility by Robert C. Ross and A. L. Doran, the soon to be Wandermere Golf Course, continued the traditions of the past. Ice skating was the first revenue generator of the business as the construction of the clubhouse was ongoing for the newly planned multi-sport activity center north of Spokane.  In the fall of 1930 ice skating was all the rage in the Spokane area, as well as nationwide. It was a different era, before other distractions, such as the television and the easy access to the automobile and other forms of recreation. People ventured outside yearround and what a better way to spend an afternoon or an evening than to ice skate in the great outdoors. Recreational skating was not hard to come by during this era. Most all major lakes and ponds in the Spokane […]

Murder at Greenleaf Farm: The Tragic Downfall of Theodore Cushing and His Ties to Francis H. Cook and Wandermere Golf Course

by Ty Brown Theodore Cushing arrived on the west coast from Chicago and made his home in Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 1883. While a resident of Portland, he invested in real estate in Spokane Falls and made a small for- tune in the rise in values there. Cushing’s brother, William, was already well established in the area and operated a large mercantile store, Cushing and Bryan, in the town of Mead, just north of the city. Theodore moved to Spokane in 1888 and erected a flamboyant building which was known as the Cushing block on the northwest corner of Howard and Sprague. This building was the first commercial building designed by famed architect, Kirtland Cutter. Cushing was the director of the Washington National Bank and the Washington Savings Bank of Spokane Falls located in his new building. During the Panic of 1893, Cushing lost the block to foreclosure and it later become known as the Spokane and Eastern Trust Company. This space is currently occupied by the Bank of America tower, constructed in 1980. Following the financial downturn, Cushing took up residence at a farm owned by his father-in-law, Thomas Hampton, on the Little Spokane River (site of […]

Jack Nisbet’s and FLSRV’s Sixth Annual Walking Tour: Lower Hangman/Latah Creek April 29, 2018

by Tina Wynecoop Near Peaceful Valley, below Spokane Falls, a tributary joins the Spokane River. And thirty-three humans and one very polite dog named ‘Dug’ joined on this cool spring morning to follow our favorite naturalist/historian guide, Jack Nisbet, on yet another wonderful excursion to explore in depth our region’s varied wonders.  Overheard while waiting for the group to assemble, one octogenarian-minus mentioned to another octogenarianplus that his parents had kept a trailer at this very spot by Sandifur Bridge fifty years ago. The other elder, a Spokan Indian, countered, ‘Well, 150 years ago, my people lived here.’ (And they had for uncountable generations.)  After a brisk uphill walk we looked down at the confluence of Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. Coolish weather earlier in the week had slowed the creek’s meltwater considerably (from 20,000cfs the previous Monday to 8,000cfs on this day.) This is a spectacular drone photo (courtesy of Cutboard Studio) of the confluence was published by The Inlander in mid-April showing a vast stream of mud flowing from Latah Creek and running parallel with and infringing on the green flow of the big river. One could be dismayed at the enormous sediment being dumped by Latah into […]

“Don’t tell my wife about this!”

by Tina Wynecoop This summer I read with interest a report by Jim Camden in The Spokesman Review about a jet plane crash in the Colville National Forest in 1955. His article reminded me of a similar 1955 jet plane crash in the Little Spokane River Valley. I had interviewed life-long local residents Dan Forsyth and Jim Pounder about the event. Here is the account I wrote for our January 2011 FLSRV newsletter under the heading ‘Plane Crash’:  I didn’t find a written record of the 1950’s Navy jet trainer plane that crashed into a rocky hillside upslope from the Little Spokane River between Midway and Riverview Roads, The vivid memories of young boys and a twisted piece of metal suffice as proof that it happened. Early one morning c.1954 Jim was awakened from where he slept outside in the family’s sleeping porch, by the sound of a plane coming in low from the east over the little town of Colbert. It crashed near the Hotchkiss place. ‘The jolt felt just like an earthquake.’  The plane’s hydraulics had failed and the pilot bailed out somewhere near Hilltop Road not far from Highway 2. All that was left of the plane was […]

List of resources re: Salmon/Upper Columbia River Basin:

Scholz, Allan T., et al. Compilation of information on salmon and steelhead total run size, catch and hydropower related losses in the Upper Columbia River Basin, above Grand Coulee Dam. Fisheries. Technical Report No. 2. Upper Columbia United Tribes Fisheries Center. Cheney. Eastern Washington University. (1985)  Scholz, Allan T., and Holly J. McLellan Field guide to the Fishes of Eastern Washington. Cheney, WA: Eagle Printing (2009)  Scholz, Allan T., and Holly J. McLellan Fishes of the Columbia and Snake River Basins in Eastern Washington. EWU Department of Biology. Cheney, WA (2010)  Scholz, Allan T. EWU’s Biology website: Fishes of Eastern Washington: A Natural History (volumes 1-4)  Ray, Verne F. “Native Villages and Groupings of the Columbia Basin.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly. April, 27(2):99-152. 1936  Devoto, Bernard The Journals of Lewis and Clark. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1953  Pearkes, Eileen Delehanty The Geography of Memory: Recovering Stories of a Landscape’s First People. Sono Nis Press (2002)  Pearkes, Eileen Delehanty A River Captured: The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change. Rocky Mountain Books (2016)  Fahey, John The Spokane River: Its Miles and Its History. Ms on file, Spokane Centennial Trail Committee, Spokane. (1988)  Ross, John Alan The Spokane Indians. (2011)  Mapes, Lynda Elwha: A River Reborn. Mountaineers Books. (2013)  Little Spokane River – from Wikipedia, the […]


By Dan Webster … Courtesy of Spokesman Review The Spokane Indians that lived for generations in and around the Little Spokane River Valley had little in common with the residents of today’s modern housing developments. That much is obvious. But both cultures do share one important quality: a sense of community. To the Spokanes, kinship was key. Life revolved around the nuclear family, which extended to immediate cousins. To those who live in suburban neighborhoods SIJCh as Blackhawk, which sits in North Spokane east of U.S. Route 395 and just north of Wandermere Golf Course, that kind of kinship is more loosely defined.  To residents such as Crissy White, though, it is no less meaningful. “Blackhawk is a pretty strong community,” says White, who has lived in the subdiVision for a dozen years with her husband Todd and their two children. “We’re very close.” White cites one major reason for that closeness.  “I think like many of the newer constructed neighborhoods, we were all built at pretty much the same time,” White says. “And we all had children who were young at the exact same time.” White, who works in sales and marketing for an area title company, was happy […]

Pioneer of Our Valley

by Dana Davis Kelly Nicette Davis, our mother and one of the oldest residents of the Little Spokane Valley, quietly passed away August 29, 2014. Her last moments and the majority of her long life were spent in the peace and beauty of the farm she had so dearly loved. She was just two months shy of her 100th birthday.  Mother’s parents, Irving Hildenbrandt (Hildy, as he was known) and her mother, Carrie, purchased the farm from Charles L. Downer in the early spring of 1907, just a few years after arriving in Spokane from Ohio. Located north of Colbert Road and east of the Little Spokane River, the 160 acre farm (used at that time as a dairy) contained a stately 100 x 40 ft. barn built around 1890.  The timber was mostly likely milled at the “Chattaroy Lumber Company” located about a mile and a half north in the area known as Buckeye (where Little Spokane Drive meets Wollard Rd.). Our grandparents were also impressed by an orchard just north of Colbert Road along the hillside, lush grazing land, ample timber and two residents with outbuildings. But most enchanting to these newlyweds from the east was the beauty […]

What Was In Grandpa’s Trunk

By Harla Jean Heiser Biever Being an only child I became sole heir to my Grandparent’s home in Chadron, Nebraska, when my mother passed away in 1985. My daughter, Lisa, and I went into that home and were swept into the past as we sorted through all the belongings stored in the basement and in the attic.  We found many treasures; one of them brings us to our publishing this book. Stored away in an old trunk in the attic we found numerous photographs of Sioux Indians, the Wounded Knee Massacre, the 7th Cavalry, and the Pine Ridge Reservation. I am uncertain exactly how Grandpa came to own these photographs. Some of the major photographers of the time had studios in Chadron, and friends who knew of his interest in the events of the late 1800’s may have sent some of these photos to him. So, his private collection became our private collection and since 1985 we’ve considered how best to preserve the photographs for coming generations. We finally decided to publish a book to share the photos of this historic era with others who have a like-minded interest. Most of the photos are now 125 years old.  Board members […]


by Tina Wynecoop River valleys are composed of biologic, geologic, and cultural wonders. Our own Little Spokane River Valley is no exception. Kay Ringo, who lived on a farm called “Buckeye” near this meandering river, wrote several books about the area she came to love. Thanks to her passion to record its history the reader can go back in time and gain a clearer sense of “the way it was.” She focused her published writings on the local milltown, Buckeye, the Little Spokane Garden Club, post offices in the area, and her pioneer family. In 2012, just four years shy of a century, she published her last history book, based on letters written by her aunt and uncle, about pioneer days in Washington Territory, 1879-1886.  Postmarked letters are a researcher’s valuable resource and postmarks led Kay to many historical discoveries, including first person accounts of our Colbert area recorded during the last fifteen decades. The post office story is twined with Kay’s – for in her life the post office was a center of community and communication. This was also true for our family when we made our home here in 1976 and our address was Route 1, Box 319, […]

Cottonwood Trees in North Spokane County

by W.G. Magnuson In 1883 the Dart pioneer family established a small community that is now called Dartford. Dartford is just North of Spokane at the Little Spokane River about 1/2 mile West of highway 395 (Division). The Dart brothers had arrived from Minnesota around 1879 and built and operated a sawmill and later a gristmill at Dartford.  In 1883 the brothers built a family home and barn. The home burned down in 1995 but the barn still stands and is being repaired (restored). The house was rebuilt in pretty much the same style as the 1883 house. At the time the original house was built, or shortly thereafter, four trees were planted – two fir trees at the front of the family house and two cottonwood trees just East of the fir trees. This article calls attention to the cottonwood trees.  The larger of the cottonwoods is a female tree with a circumference of just over 17 feet (diameter of 5.4 feet) measured at five feet above ground and may be one of the largest and maybe oldest cottonwood tree in Spokane County. At least that is what a Spokane County Park Department employee said to a local resident. […]