Spokane House- A Fur Trading Outpost Established by David Thompson

The Spokane House was a trading post used by fur traders, the Spokane, Nez Perce, Pend Oreille, Coeur d'Alene, Kettle Falls and Kootenai tribes. It was the first white settlement in the Pacific Northwest. It was located where the Spokane and the Little Spokane Rivers meet. They chose this location because there were many beavers and other game. There was also a traditional Spokane tribe fishing site nearby.
The first fort was built in 1810 by Jacques Finlay and Finan McDonald under the direction of David Thompson. David Thompson was an explorer who worked for the North West Company. He was sent out to find places for trading posts and one of the places was the location of the Spokane House. This site was the western-most site established by Thompson and was accessible to the Columbia River and thereby the Pacific Ocean for transporting furs. During its peak in trading over 40 fur trapper families lived near the Spokane House. In 1812, the Pacific Fur Company, an American company owned by John Jacob Astor, built a competitor trading post nearby. Both posts had a prosperous winter 1812-1813, but the threat of war made the Americans sell out to the North West Company.
There was further reorganization when the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company merged in 1821. The site of Spokane House was judged not sufficient as it was 60 miles from the Columbia River and therefore required horseback transportation for the furs. The trading post was dismantled and carried to Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. The new trading post was named Fort Colville.
 
Jacques Finlay stayed on at the site of Spokane House with his family. Legend had it that he was buried under the bastion of the fort. Afterwards the buildings quickly went to ruin. Archeological digs carried out in 1950-53 and 1962-63 established the north-south stockade wall and the bastion, including Finlay's bones. The posts on the site today represent locations of rotted post fragments and give a rough outline of the fort layout.
Send comments to Discovery School 5th graders
copyright (c) 1998, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Revised: March 18, 2004