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Four Lakes

Four Lakes business district, 1914

The original Four Lakes District was northwest of the current community.

A number of trails crossed through the Four Lakes district near Medicine (Medical), Granite, Silver, and Clear lakes made by both Native American and the white settlers.

From very early times there was some kind of store or a waystation in the district. A Catholic priest described a long and dangerous winter night journey in 1858 out to the hotel/store at the Four Lakes district to minister to a dying man.

Map showing original and current locations of Four Lakes
The original and current Four Lakes locations
Portrait of Gen George Wright
General George Wright

A few months earlier the district was marked for history for another reason. On 1 September 1858 Colonel George Wright’s 700 US Army troops decisively defeated a confederation of fighters from the Spokane, Palouse, and Coeur d’Alene tribes below the butte north of today’s Willow Lake.

The Bassett family homesteaded just south of Granite Lake about 1872. Wilbur Bassett is credited with naming Granite, Silver, and Clear Lakes. Their daughter, Minnie Marie, is believed to be the first white child born in Spokane Falls on January 1, 1872. Sadly, young Minnie drowned just two years later.

ABove are: Wilbur F. Bassett, their cabin, Minnie’s grave, son Herman and his family, 1907

James Kennedy had a store in the district by 1878. Other early settlers included J.L. Stedman, Mr. Wood and Mr. Edbell.

The Meadow Lake township located where we know it today, five miles north of Cheney, formed through the advertising of Spokane Realty firm, Hanauer-Graves, in anticipation of the Cheney Branch of the Washington Water Power electric train service in 1907. They advertised the area as great, frost free farming and orchard land. In short order businesses, restaurants, and even a hotel went up near the unheated electric train depot located on the appropriately named, Electric Avenue.

brochure page describing Meadow Lake community
Hanauer-Graves advertising brochure for Meadow Lake
1912 plat map of Meadow Lake
Meadow Lake township 1912

William F. Jones was the first postmaster of the Meadow Lake township when the post office was established in his store in December of 1908. In 1910, the community voted to rename the post office to Four Lakes due to confusion with nearby Medical Lake.

A drought in 1913 and growth of the Wenatchee area irrigated orchards took the glow off the orchard business in this region. Automobiles and improved roads made the freight and passenger business of the electric train, and its stop in Four Lakes, less important. The train was discontinued in March of 1922.

men and women passengers of the outside deck of an electric train car.
WWP electric train running between Four Lakes and Cheney, about 1914
Four Lakes business district, 1914
Four Lakes business district, about 1914

The Four Lakes Grange was organized by Ira Shea in 1929. The grange hall, built in 1933, still stands in the community.

Four Lakes School taught classes for first through eighth grade students. Built in 1917 the school operated until it merged with the Cheney School District in 1959.

In 1935 a granite monument was placed at the corner of Electric Ave and First Street commemorating the Battle of Four Lakes.

newspaper clipping of unveiling of battle monument
Isabell Jones unveiled Battle of Four Lakes monument, 1935

Above are School students, Kramer family farm, Herman Willms’ prize bull.

In 1965 the new I–90 freeway and its interchange split the district off from its original lakes, and re-routed traffic off Electric Avenue and over to the east side of the old business district. The Four Lakes community continues today as a gateway to our region with its post office and a few businesses.

Image of Gerald the Museum Mouse

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We are operated completely by volunteers and through your donations. We receive no government funding for our operations. All of your donations go to funding our efforts to research and preserve our history, and most importantly, share the stories with you both at the museum and beyond its walls.