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The town of Oakesdale was established in the mid-1880s by James McCoy and was for several years little more than a small farming village that spread over a shallow valley. A small, compact business district centered in a few blocks along the highway, and along the railroad tracks were grain elevators, warehouses, and feed stores. Shading the quiet residential streets were large trees, many of them planted by the early settlers. On Saturday and during the planting and harvesting seasons the streets were lined with cars and all the stores were busy.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Barron Flour Mill

This was among the first significant commercial enterprises, built by J. G. Porter during the late summer and autumn of 1890. Once the Northern Pacific Railroad spur track to the mill was completed in early December, the mill was running and flour was being produced on contract to local farmers and merchants. When virtually every other frame commercial building in Oakesdale was razed in the fire of July 5, 1892, the flour mill, then known as the Oakesdale Milling Company, miraculously escaped unscathed. By the mid-1890s it had gained a reputation for producing one of the Pacific Northwest’s finest flours. In December of 1895 with J. A. Henry as the miller, the operation was running 24 hours per day. Wheat to be ground into flour was brought in from as far away as Genesee, Idaho. Although a prospering mill, the output was kept small, with a daily capacity of 80 barrels (at 196 pounds per barrel).

Oaksdale City Hall

Built in 1892, this building is significantly associated with the commercial and civic heritage of a small Whitman County fanning community. The two-story brick structure originally was built as a hotel, and was one of the first buildings completed in the wake of a devastating fire that destroyed much of the city center. Through the first quarter of the twentieth century, the building was the site of the town’s principal banks and financial institutions. Beginning in 1928, the building served as the seat of town government. Through this century of history, the simple building with its handsome arched fenestration and prominent corner location has been a pivotal community landmark.