First called Buffalo and later Troy, Inchelium connected with Gifford by cable ferry. The site disappeared under 135 feet of water when Coulee Dam Lake reached its final level, and the inhabitants moved to the benchland, retaining the town’s name, which had been given by government surveyors. They mapped the town and “Inchelium” was their interpretive spelling of the San Poil Indian name En-char-lay-um or En-ch’lay-um, which is said to mean “where big water meets little water,” or “a meeting place among three waters.” It refers to the confluences of nearby Hall and Stranger creeks with the Columbia River. The present-day town of Inchelium is located on the Colville Indian Reservation. The Gifford-Inchelium Ferry, also known as GIF, is free and operated by the Colville Confederated Tribes.
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