Arden: Woods and Laughing Waters


Townsend Club Picnic, 1935

     One day in 1890 C.R. McMillan stood looking out on the wooded land through which the Little Pend Oreille River splashed its last mile to join the Colville. Something about it brought to mind the idyllic setting of Shakespeareís "As You Like It" and, after the play, he selected the perfect name for this small villageóArden.

The Arden Store

     In 1903 Alex Farquar and Dan Weir opened Ardenís general store. They sold groceries, general merchandise and tools. Supplies were brought by "Smith the whip and Buggy Man." The Arden Store was the center of town. It housed the Post Office from 1904-1915, the gas station (with a glass gas pump), and upstairs was a community center where people gathered for dances, voting, and movies. It was known as a "Jot-um-down store" and people wrote their purchases down in a book and paid when they had the money. 

     In 1913 the store was operated by Harry Farquar (Alexís son) and his partner John Bruce. They operated the store until 1965, when it was sold to lifetime resident Harvey Hall. It burned in 1968 and Mr. Hall rebuilt along the new Highway 395. As time passed it became a tavern. There are still some businesses in Arden along the highway. Arden has not lost its traditional friendly feel.


     Early Pioneer, Judge B. F. Yantis built an old-fashioned grist mill on the Little Pend Oreille River along the main pioneer roads. In the early 1860ís the Oppenheimer brothers bought the mill and ran it until 1900. The mill was an amazing operation. Michael LaFleur brought the grinding stones from Olympia. (They now sit on the lawn at the Stevens County Courthouse). "The mill was built without nails, using only wooden pins. Upon going inside the mill, the first thing that attracted oneís attention was the total absence of that creaking noise and jarring peculiar to all other mills. Not a single piece of iron shafting, no pulleys, connecting rods or gearing of any kind. Everything was made of wood." The mill pond was reportedly an acre in size and a great fishing hole.

     The lumber industry was also booming and the first sawmill, a railroad tie mill, was along the Colville River. In 1909 the Fidelity Lumber Co. placed a mill at the confluence of the Colville and the Pend Oreille Rivers. It is rumored that at times there were so many logs in the Colville River you could walk from Arden to Addy without getting your feet wet. The millís success turned Arden into something of a boom town, boasting a school with over sixty students. There was the Fidelity Lumber Company store, the Arden Mercantile store, a boarding house, the black smith shop, and the Blue Front saloon. (Donna Gumm 1997).

The Oppenheimer Mill, 1859