Colville, Washington – If you think there’s nothing to Colville but a giant lumber mill, then you are wrong. Nestled in a long valley, Colville is home to a rejuvenated downtown area with small shops, restaurants and breweries – and it’s close to some great recreational areas.
Like many Eastern Washington towns, Colville began as Fort Colville (located near Pinkey City, just a bit north of here) in the mid-1850s. Colville is the Stevens County seat – the courthouse moved there in 1884, and the city incorporated in 1890.
Just a few miles away to the west, you will find the Colville National Forest and Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge – with the Columbia River to the west you are indeed in the middle of paradise for outdoor pursuits. The national forest is home to the more than 40,000 acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness and stunning Salmo Mountain (6,828 feet). Many come here to hike the Shedroof Divide Trail which stretches into neighboring Idaho. Grizzly bears, gray wolves and woodland caribou live here but you have to be very lucky to actually see one.
Little Pend Oreille was created in 1939 as a preserve for many migratory birds. It is famous for its many woodpeckers and gaggles of waterfowl on the Little Pend Oreille River, but it’s also habitat for the threatened Canada Lynx. Bring binoculars and a bird book – there are lots to look at. Peak birdwatching hours are dusk and dawn. Dress well. Sit still. And wait for the birds to find you.
Back in Colville, a visit to the Stevens County Historical Society will give you a great idea of how life has changed here since the Colville Valley was incorporated. The museum grounds hold “Lockwood” aka the Keller House, built in 1910 and kept like it looked back then – except for the addition of electricity which arrived in Colville in 1903. Colville businessman Harry Young built the home which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. When Harry Young died, his widow Anna married Louis Keller. Keller donated the home and the surrounding grounds to the city when he died in 1966.
As you pull up to the Keller House, you will notice a collection of lilliput castles built of river rock in the garden beds on your right. These fantasy castles were built by Ada Hixon, and have been moved a couple of times before finally settling here at the Keller House in 1993.
Museum grounds also hold a mining equipment heritage park and a farm equipment exhibit. Watching over it all is the Graves Mountain Lookout Tower – a fire lookout from the 1930s. It’s a truly beautiful spot with a fantastic view of the Colville Valley.