A group of military men came upon a beautiful lake in 1876 and Captain Hunter named it Loon Lake after the many loons that made their home along the shore. In 1884 C.H. Arnold built a log house near the lake. The mail was first carried in by stage to Forest, a town fifteen miles away. The railroad came through in 1889 and the train brought mail. Finally in 1890 Loon Lake got its own Post Office. Mr. Arnold was the first postmaster.
Mr. Materne built the first store in a log cabin in 1889. Soon after, Mr. Mathers built another store. "This pretentious building (was) nearly 10 ft. long and 8 ft. wide, being so roomy it was used as a store, hotel, warehouse, black smith shop and anything else that was necessary. Later it was turned into a chicken coop. Other pioneers farmed and built homes "…near one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the state." There were attempts to make Loon Lake a private park in 1889-90. This attempt failed, but there were still recreational boat tours for Spokane citizens and others.
Mr. Dart erected a sawmill in 1890, which burned six years later. It is thought that the fire was caused by a little boy who was fishing and built a fire in some shavings near the mill. Later, Holland Horr Mill Company ran a successful business on the lake. Mr. Morgan ran the only steam launch on Loon Lake and did considerable work for the Holland Mill. The lake also provided ice for refrigeration. The water was fresh and clean due to the fact that it was fed by an underwater spring.
The first school building was a small log building built in 1894. The school’s enrollment grew from twenty students to one hundred. (Essay by May Grant Flory, 1908)
How They Survived
The beginning days in Loon Lake were not easy. Spokane was the nearest place to get supplies and so the citizens sent one person to Spokane to pick up goods for everyone. One time a man named Mr. Hessner took everyone’s money and "had a good time and left the people without enough to buy shoes, so they wore sacks tied around their feet for the winter."
In 1908 Ms. May Grant Flory recalled some of the ways people survived in early Loon Lake. "There were no chairs to be had so the few who were lucky enough to have 2 dollars for a box of apples retained the great luxury of having the box for a chair. Mrs. Baker who was more fortunate than some of the other ladies had a candy bucket which she turned upside down for an easy chair…When the candle supply fell short, a saucer of grease with a rag served a very good substitute."