Spokane House was the first permanent white settlement in what is now Washington State.
It was established in 1810 by Finnan McDonald
(known as Buffalo Finnan in the Saskatchewan River area for wrestling a buffalo) and Jacques (Jaco) Finlay at the direction of David Thompson of the North West Company (a Canadian business). It was built at the confluence of the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers to trade with Native Americans for furs (especially beaver) that were becoming popular in the East and Europe. Building supplies were transported 2,000 miles by canoe from company headquarters at Lake Superior.
The furs were then transported 60 miles by boat (and occasionally horses) to the "Forks" where the Spokane meets the Columbia River.
In 1812, John Jacob Astor's American company, the Pacific Fur Company, established a rival trading post at the Forks, called Fort Spokane.
The North West Company purchased Ft. Spokane in 1813.
In 1821, Hudson Bay Company took over Spokane House, when the English Parliament merged the North West Company with Hudson Bay. In 1824, the directors decided to close Spokane House and move its operations to Ft. Colville. The move was completed in 1826. Spokane House was left standing, but most useful materials were taken during the move, leaving few artifacts for historians. Only Jaco Finlay and his family stayed on at Spokane House until his death in 1828. He requested to be buried under one of the bastions.
Two archeological digs were conducted to find the remains of Spokane House, one in 1950-53 and a second in 1962-63.
The Spokane House Interpretive Center is open Wed- Sun 10-6 until Labor Day. (1999 schedule) Posts mark the discoveries about the original layout, and artifacts, and ample parking and picnic tables make this a nice family expedition.
Finnan McDonald by Neil J. MacDonald .....
More Spokane House
There are lots of trails here with secluded picnic tables with river views. I rarely see anyone at these nice picnic areas.