The seat of Stevens County, is enclosed by peaks of the Okanogan Highlands and the Calispell Mountain Range on the northeast and south. On the west the city slopes down to the floor of the Colville Valley. The business center of tidy brick and stone buildings rises from a 60-foot plateau in the shadow of Mount Colville. Towering grain elevators and church steeples give the city an aspect of compactness.
During the gold rush days, Colville saw much brawling and gun-fighting. In 1861 soldiers from Fort Colville, an early military post, raided the town’s laundry, ran off the Chinese proprietor, and took all the clothing. The next year a lieutenant killed a civilian in cold blood, but was acquitted because no one dared to testify against him. To check pilfering and murder, Major Curtis, commanding officer of the post, dismantled the town’s distillery, confiscating all of the whisky. To the depredations of the soldiers were added those of roving desperadoes who occasionally visited the town.