April 29th, 2012
Fort Spokane in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreational Area of Eastern Washington was an army fort from 1880 to 1898 (the last built on the Northwest frontier). The fort was intended to confine the Spokane and Colville Indians on local reservations and separate them from nearby settlers.
Despite conflicts with Indians in other parts of the Northwest a shot was never fired in anger by the troops in this area. In 1898 when the Spanish-American War broke out virtually all the troops were shifted to other forts.
When the fort closed it was taken over by the Coleville Indian Agency and became a boarding school for Indian children from 1900 to 1907 (this is terrible as they forcibly took the children away from their families to give them a “proper” white education….sounds a bit like my homeland) and later it was used as a tuberculosis hospital. At its peak in the 1890’s the fort had around 50 buildings, but once it closed in 1929 it slowly went into disrepair before the last few buildings were finally preserved with the takeover of the site by the National Park Service in 1960 (when only 4 buildings remained).
Today the centrepiece of the fort is the magnificent old stables building, the visitors centre and museum (old guardhouse), a gunpowder storage building and what is left of the ruins. The Museum is unfortunately closed at this time of year but there are plenty of information boards around the site to give you a good idea of what the fort once looked like.