Stevens County Timeline & boundary changes

Stevens County Boundary Changes

  • Prior to 1848, both Great Britain and the United States had joint ownership of the area.
  • On July 4, 1843 a provisional government for the Oregon Territory was formed. Of the four districts created, current Stevens County was in the Clackamas District. On August 18, 1845, the Vancouver District was created.
  • On December 22, 1845, districts were changed to counties.
  • On August 5, 1846, the Oregon Treaty established 49 degrees north as the northern border of the United States and the Oregon Territory was formed.
  • On September 3, 1849, Vancouver County was changed to Clark County.
  • In 1851, most of current Stevens County was in Clackmas County, but the area west of the Columbia was in Clark County.
  • On 2 March 1853, the Washington Territory was created by President Millard Fillmore.  The Washington Territory included current Idaho, parts of Montana and Wyoming.  Washington became a state 11 November 1889 under President Benjamin Harrison. Clark County contained current Stevens County.
  • On 25 April 1854, Walla Walla County was created 25 April 1954 from Clark County and Skamania County.
  • On 29 January 1858, Spokane County was created from Walla Walla County. Spokane County covers most of the current Stevens County, except the portion west of the Columbia River, which is still in Walla Walla County
  • On January 17, 1860, a second attempt by the legislature to create Spokane County occurred.
  • On January 20, 1863, Stevens County was created. It covers current Okanogan and Ferry Counties and the portion of current Stevens County west of the Columbia River.
  • On 4 March 1863, Idaho Territory was created.
  • On 19 January 1864, Spokane County was disorganized and placed under Stevens County. County went from summit of Cascade Mountains to the Wenachee River, to the Columbia River, along the Snake River, to the Idaho Territory, then up to the 49th parallel.
  • On 31 January 1867, the breakup of Stevens County began in 1867 with the enlargement of Yakima County.
  • On 23 November 1871, Whitman County (includes current Adams & Franklin Counties) was created from Stevens County.
  • On 30 October 1879, Spokane County was re-organized from Stevens County.
  • On 2 February 1888, Okanogan County (included Chelan County) was created from Stevens County.
  • On 21 February 1899, Ferry County was created from Stevens County.
  • Finally on 1 March 1911, Pend Oreille County was created bringing us to what is Stevens County today.

(Editor’s note: An Illustrated History of Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan and Chelan Counties, author Richard S. Steele, pub. Western Historical Publishing Company, 1904 attributes the 1858 and 1860 descriptions of Spokane County to Stevens County creating some confusion.)

Information from The Evolution of Washington Counties by Newton Carl Abbott & Fred E. Carver, 1979. Published by the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Klickitat County Genealogical Society and the Washington State Archives.

Timeline of Events


  • 1789s – European diseases decreased the native indian populations.
  • 1811 – David Thompson, Northwest Company visited the area bringing in seed to the Marcus area.
  • 1812 – Northwest Fur Company began growing wheat near Marcus.
  • 1816 – Northwest Company operated a fur trading station near Kettle Falls.
  • 1816 – Northwest Company built the first grist mill built at Marcus Flats
  • 1825 – Hudson’s Bay Company begins construction of Fort Colvile.
  • 1838 – Missionaries Walker and Eells established Tshimakain Mission near present day Ford.
  • 1845 – Catholic missionaries established a mission near Chewelah.
  • 1846 – Oregon Treaty ended border dispute between US and Great Britain
  • 1847 – Catholic Priests built St. Paul’s Mission near Kettle Falls.
  • 1848 – Tshimakain Mission abandoned after murder of Whitman’s at the Walla Walla mission
  • 1850s – Antoine Plante established first commercial crossing, Plante’s Ferry. See Plante’s Ferry County Park in Spokane County.
  • 1825 – Legislature created Spokane County to include this area, but no action was taken to establish a county government.
  • 1850 – Congress passed the Donation Land Law for the Oregon Territory
  • 1854 – Area under Walla Walla County, Washington Territory
  • 1855 – Gold strike in the area.
  • 1858 – A gold strike in British Columbia brought miners through the area, triggering unrest with the local Indians and started the Indian War of 1858.
  • 1859 – Harney’s Depot, US Army Fort Colville established along with Pinkney City and the first post office; Fort Walla Walla Fort Colville Military (Wagon) Road built by Brevet Major Pinkney Lugenbeel and U.S. Army soldiers. Military road came up along side the west side of the Colville Valley until what is now Heine Road and then angled across to Chewelah, and then up the east side of the valley.
  • 1859 – Bill Nix established ferry which later became LaPray Bridge.
  • 1860 – Spokane County seat was located near Pinkney City.
  • 1863 – Legislators created Stevens County, but only included current Okanogan and Ferry County area.
  • 1865 – LaPray Bridge constructed
  • 1867 – Construction of Cottonwood Creek Road from Chewelah to Plante’s Ferry.
  • 1868 – Pinkney City became Fort Colville.
  • 1871 – Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Colvile ended its occupation
  • 1871 – Whitman County broken off from Stevens County
  • 1879 – Spokane County broken off from Stevens County
  • 1882 – US Fort Colville disbanded.
  • 1883 – Most of Pinkney City, to include the courthouse, moved to present day Colville; Commanding General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman travelled through Stevens County in August; on a visit to U.S. Army posts.
  • 1883 – Kittitas, Lincoln, Adams, Franklin, and Douglas Counties broken off from Stevens County.
  • 1888 – Okanogan County broken off from Stevens County.
  • 1889 – Washington State created.
  • 1890 – Spokane Falls and Northern Railroad reached Marcus.
  • 1892 – Spokane Falls and Northern Railroad reached Northport.
  • 1896 – North half of the Spokane Reservation opened to miners.
  • 1897 – South half of the Spokane Reservation opened to miners.
  • 1899 – Ferry County broken off from Stevens County.
  • 1909 – 1910 – Colville River dredged opening up agriculture in the area;
  • 1910 – Pend Orielle County broken off from Stevens County.
  • 1910 – Old Hudson’s Bay Company buildings destroyed by fire.
  • 1917 – June 5th War Registration list for Stevens County
  • 1929 – 1939 – Great Depression
  • 1941 – Grand Coulee Dam completed and Lake Roosevelt was formed.


A Preserve America Project for Stevens County Washington