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Colfax

Seat of Whitman County, the town spreads along both sides of the Palouse River. Hemming in the town are rounded hills. Main Street, nearly a mile in length, parallels the river, which occasionally goes on a rampage, when the spring runoff is exceptionally rapid, and floods the lower levels of the town.

Colfax is an old town with a vigorous past. When the ban against settlement in this region was lifted in 1858, settlers swarmed in over the trails that trappers, traders, missionaries, and soldiers had worn through the Palouse hills; but it was not until 1870 that the first settler, J. A. Perkins, took up land in the part of the Palouse River valley where Colfax is located. Perkins was soon joined by H. S. Hollingsworth, Captain James Ewart, and others. The settlement, at first called Belleville, was renamed in honor of Schuyler Colfax, Vice President of the United States during Ulysses S. Grant’s first term. For a few years, it was almost exclusively a cattle center, and during this period gun fights were everyday events. By the end of the 1880s, however, Colfax was deriving its main income from wheat, leaving behind its turbulent youth.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Colfax Main Street Historic District

After surviving fire, flood and economic depression, Colfax still conveys much of the character of a turn-of-the-century town. Its main street, four blocks of which form the Colfax Main Street Historic District, is lined with substantial buildings of brick, stucco and granite, which bear witness to the pioneering spirit of those who built them and reflect the economic importance of the district to the region. Unlike many of the surrounding towns, it has retained its prosperity and its population has been stable since 1900. Having avoided the large-scale demolition which has decimated many small towns in the region, it represents the history of commercial development in the Palouse country well. In the district are fine examples of several styles of architecture, ranging from High Victorian Gothic in 1889 and Richardsonian Romanesque in 1893 to Colonial Revival in 1933 and Art Deco in 1935.

Kramlich Barn

The Kramlich Barn was built around 1919 and is nearly identical to the nearby Heidenreich Barn, less than one mile away.

Mackleit Farm

Herman Mackleit’s father was the original owner-builder. He started with the barn in 1912, building it before the house. Reportedly the family lived in the hen house while the main house was being built, so the hen house was built with a cement floor. The barn originally had milk stanchions on one side, horse stalls on the other, and a silo next to the rear facade.