THE HISTORY OF LINCOLN COUNTY, WASHINGTON
became a territory on March 2, 1853 and a state on November 11, 1889.
County was formed on November 24, 1883 from a portion of Spokane County, but
just four days later, it lost a large amount of territory when Douglas County
county was named for President Lincoln and Davenport was designated the
temporary county seat, though Sprague was the largest town in the county. In the
next election the towns of Davenport, Sprague and Harrington vied for the county
seat. The number of votes cast in both Davenport and Sprague exceeded their
populations. However, Sprague was designated the winner and a brand new brick
courthouse was built in 1886. In 1890, another vote was cast and Sprague won
again. On August 3, 1895 a fire destroyed Sprague and the main employer, the
Northern Pacific Railroad Company moved its sixth divisional headquarters to
Spokane. Sprague’s population fell to a few hundred people.
In a third and final contest in 1896 Davenport was the victor, and it is
the county seat today. Davenport’s courthouse was built in 1897.
of Lincoln County began in the late 1860s. Most settlers started raising cattle
on the abundant bunchgrass that grew in the bottomlands. The number of cattle increased until the severe winter of
1880-81 wiped out almost 90% of the herds.
The ranchers rebuilt but yet another killing winter came in 1889-90.
The wheat crops also suffered during the cold winters. The farmers soon
realized that more feed was needed to keep cattle alive during the winter months
and many landowners because raising wheat, which became the principal industry.
railroads arrived in the 1880s bringing more settlers and the transportation to
ship their wheat and cattle to the East. The Northern Pacific R.R. Company
crossed the county in 1889-90, and the Great Northern came through Lincoln
County in 1892-93.
glacial fields extended into the county, but most of them stayed North of the
Spokane River. The floods caused by Lake Missoula eroded much of the original
topsoil of this area and it is now
the presence of Grand Coulee Dam built in 1942, the backwaters are now called
“Lake Roosevelt” which now provides many types of water-related recreation
for residents and tourists. The dam
itself is near the very northwest corner of the county. The Keller ferry crosses the lake north of the town of
basic attributes of Lincoln County remain the soil, sun, wheat and only four
people per square mile.
you to the Davenport Museum for contributing some of the above information.
History of Lincoln County, Washington submitted to the
WAGenWeb by Rella Gleaton September, 2003..
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