Among the state’s small towns, Waterville contains one of the most intact and cohesive collections of historic buildings, many of which are listed either individually or as part of a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and Washington Heritage Register.
The highway curves through the shaded streets of Waterville, at the foot of Badger Mountain and east of the Columbia River. Clay pits and limestone quarries once added to the town’s revenue. Waterville was founded by Albert T. Greene in 1883, who was said to be enamored of the idea of founding a town in the west from his boyhood days. The town has had three names: it was Okanogan City in 1884, when it was the main stopping point on the road to the Okanogan country toward the north; later it was Jumper’s Flats because of claim-jumping activity prior to the construction of the railroad; and finally, it was platted as Waterville, when water was secured from a 30-foot well on Greene’s ranch. Horse racing was an annual fall event, with a pari-mutuel track operating under the Washington State Racing Commission.