Four Lakes

General George Wright

General George Wright

A number of trails crossed through the Four Lakes district near Willow, Granite, Silver, and Clear lakes made by both Indians and the white settlers.  From very early times there was some kind of store or perhaps a way-station 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.

A few months earlier the district had become marked for history for another reason.  On September 1, 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 Willow Lake in the Four Lakes district.

The Bassett family circa 1907

The Bassett family circa 1907

The Bassett family homesteaded just south of Granite Lake about 1872.  It is believed that their daughter, Minnie Marie, was the first white child born in Spokane county on January 1, 1872. Sadly, young Minnie drowned just two years later.

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.

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 renamed the post office to Four Lakes due to confusion with the name of the 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.

Four Lakes School, circa 1957

Four Lakes School, circa 1957

Herman Willms with prize winning bull.

Herman Willms with prize winning bull.

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

The 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.

Four Lakes School student body 1935-36.

Four Lakes School student body 1935-36.

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 business district.  The Four Lakes community continues today as a gateway to our region with its post office and a few businesses.

Meadow Lake township, 1912.

Meadow Lake township, 1912.

Compiling a comprehensive history of our area is an ongoing project.  Corrections and additions are most welcome. Contact: director@cheneymuseum.org