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Spokane to Pasco

  • Distance: 145 miles
  • Routes: SR 395
  • Estimated Driving Time: 2.5 hours

This tour cuts diagonally across the expansive Palouse between Spokane and Pasco along SR 395. The highway winds along the lower channels cut through the hills millennia ago as massive flood waters washed the region. Small towns and sites are tucked in amongst the hills. Several side trips extend out to truly unique geological features hidden in the vast landscape.

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The major city of the Inland Empire of Washington, Spokane sits at the falls of the Spokane River 90 miles south of the Canadian boundary in central Spokane County. Settlement began in 1871, and the town was originally platted in 1881 as Spokane Falls, but was reincorporated in 1890 as Spokane. The name has two possible origins: One is that it came from the Indians who formerly lived in a...

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Points of Interest
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Browne’s Addition Historic District

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The Ninth Avenue Historic District

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The Marycliff-Cliff Park District

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Rockwood Historic District

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West Downtown Historic Transportation Corridor

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East Downtown Historic District

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Peaceful Valley Historic District

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Riverside Avenue Historic District

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Nettleton’s Addition Historic District

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Desmet Avenue Warehouse Historic District

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Mission Avenue Historic District

The town was named for William H. Marshall who filed a homestead on January 9, 1880. The company, Marshall & Smith, cut timber for the Northern Pacific Railway Company. The town grew around the saw mill. Earlier names for the place were Marshalltown and Marshall Junction. The Marshall Bridge, at the east side of town over the Marshall Creek, is an exceptional representative of a type of construction (T-beam). The...

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Platted in a triangle, with its base on the Northern Pacific Railway. It is a pleasant busy town. Several railroad lines run through it. At one time Cheney was connected with Spokane by an electric interurban line, and for a decade or so, until the automobile cut into its traffic, the line and the town prospered. For a few years Cheney was the county seat, only to lose out in...

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Points of Interest
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Cheney Odd Fellows Hall

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Lowe House

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Cheney Interurban Depot

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Northern Pacific Railway Depot

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Security National Bank and Masonic Temple Building

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City of Cheney Historic District

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Washington State Normal School Historic District

The tour descends imperceptibly in broad, sweeping curves through an uneven grazing region. Scab and lava rock ledges, brownish-black in color and very jagged, are frequently seen near clumps of bull pine. Gradually, the terrain alters; evergreens become scarcer; suddenly the timber line ends, and soon the rolling hills are gray with sagebrush. Herds of beef cattle graze on both sides of the road. During the spring months, the landscape...

Learn more about Hog Canyon Creek

Mile: 3

Founded by the Northern Pacific Railway Company while building its Pend Oreille Division and was platted on June 7, 1882 under the name of Stevens. The earlier name has appeared on some maps as Stephens. The name was changed by the Northern Pacific Railway for a damage claimant in Montana. If this is correct, Tyler has the distinction of being the only known place in the state that was named...

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Named for General John W. Sprague, director of the Northern Pacific Railway. The town is laid out at a 45-degree angle to the highway, as are most of the towns on this route, with the business section comprising a few blocks along First Street. On a gentle slope are a residence district, the high school, and grade school. The residential area still contains some unique turn of the 20th century...

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Points of Interest
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Mary Queen of Heaven Roman Catholic Church

Also called Colville Lake, is a favorite recreation spot for the residents of Sprague and Ritzville. About six miles in length, partially obscured by growths of willow and cotton-wood, it offers good fishing for bass, perch, and crappie and, when winters are sufficiently cold, provides excellent skating. It is an enlargement of Cow Creek. The Native American name was Silkatkwu. In a 1954, the present name was approved.

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Seat of Adams County, the town was an important milling and shipping center of the dry and dusty wheat country. It was homesteaded in 1878 by Philip Ritz, a wheat and fruit grower, who acquired 8,000 acres of agricultural land, and was a sub-contractor in railroad building. On December 22, 1880, the town was platted by affiliates of Northern Pacific Railway Company and named for Ritz who was also active...

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Points of Interest
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Ritzville Flour Mills

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Ritzville Historic District

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Ritzville Carnegie Library

The tour runs through high plateau lands, where arable soil has been planted to wheat. The rougher areas of scabrock and sagebrush are used for grazing. Occasionally, a waterhole or slough is bordered by willows and aspen; serviceberry bushes, for a brief time in spring, form swaying towers of white, and sunflowers and lupines brighten the dun-colored sagelands. In the fall, blackbirds chatter in the yellow stubble fields, and swallows...

Learn more about Paha

Mile: 87

It was founded in 1888 by an Icelandic family named Nielson, who established a store and developed an excellent well from a natural spring. In 1890, the name chosen by the Northern Pacific Railway is said to be the Icelandic word for spring or small watercourse. Three local explanations for the town's name state that it was for a woman cook who accompanied railroad construction crews; for Jenny Lind, the...

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Mile: 82

In 1883, when established by the Northern Pacific Railway it was named Palouse Junction. In 1888, the name was changed to honor a former station agent J. H. Connell or W.C. Connell, an early settler. The place was once described as “…a waterless, sandy region, fir only for the abode of rattlesnakes and coyotes.” The first post office was opened in January, 1887 and was closed in 1891. Today Connell...

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Mile: 56

Tour descends through a desolate region of gray sand, gray-green sagebrush, dried water courses, slabs of rock jutting from old fissures, and sandy mounds which seem to have been piled by a steam shovel. Cuts on the road reveal the columnar structure of the igneous rock underlying the region. Tumbleweeds drift and roll across the harrowed earth. Isolated houses and withered farms, now deserted, give evidence of the hopeless struggle...

Learn more about Rye Grass Flat

A small settlement and wheat-shipping point hugging the railroad tracks. The following story is told in connection with the town’s name: during grading of the Northern Pacific line in 1889, a freshet resulting from heavy rains washed out the grade, undoing weeks of labor. A disgusted Cockney worker commented that there would be “ ’el to pay!” The construction crew nicknamed the camp “Hell to Pay.” Railroad headquarters accepted the...

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The seat of Franklin County, spreads its attractive public buildings, landscaped grounds, and business blocks over a level desert plain at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. The city is an important division point on the Northern Pacific Railway, and the majority of its skilled workers were employed in the roundhouse and machine shops. Pasco remains the hub of the social, political, and commercial activity of the large...

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Points of Interest
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Franklin County Courthouse

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Pasco Carnegie Library

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