Photo by Luis Trimm
Often described as one of the last frontiers of the American West, Ferry County combines a rugged mountain environment dominated by mining and logging industries with the breathtaking beauty of a wilderness retreat.
Originally a part of Stevens County, Ferry County was created on February 18, 1899 and named for Governor Elisha P. Ferry, the last territorial governor and first official governor of Washington State. Located in the northeastern corner of Washington State, Ferry County shares its northern boundary with Canada and its eastern boundary with the Columbia River. The south half of the county falls within the boundaries of the Colville Confederated Tribes and the north half is largely occupied by the Colville National Forest, leaving a mere 18% of taxable land within the county’s boundaries. With a 2010 census population of only 7551 people, Ferry County is the fourth smallest county in the state.
Ferry County’s topography and climate make it an ideal recreation destination year round. Comfortably warm summers provide ample opportunities to swim and fish the county’s largest lake, Curlew Lake, or one of the many rivers throughout the area, including the Kettle River, the San Poil River, and the mighty Columbia River itself. Washington State Highway No. 20 bisects the county from east to west and is designated a national scenic byway. Highway 20 also boasts the highest navigable pass in the state at 5575 feet. Sherman Pass provides both spectacular scenery and some of the most rugged hiking trails in the state. Winter transforms the trails to cross country ski routes throughout the Kettle Mountains, and snowshoes become the second most popular means of winter hiking.
Ferry County is economically based in timber and mining, although tourism and recreation are rapidly becoming prominent economic factors. The City of Republic is both the largest community in the county and the county seat. Founded in the late 19th century by gold prospectors, Republic was the site of the most productive gold mines of the 20th century. In fact, the community still boasts the last remaining operational gold mine in Washington State. Republic was originally christened “Eureka Gulch” in honor of the Eureka Mining District. When the town incorporated in 1900, the U.S. Postal Service rejected the name “Eureka,” which had already been claimed by a community in Clark County. Therefore, the citizens chose the name “Republic” in honor of the highest producer of gold of the age, the Great Republic mining claim. The town was then relocated slightly southeast of its original location and now overlooks the San Poil River Valley to the south, and the Kettle Mountain range to the east.
Republic is also the site of the Stonerose Interpretive Center and Fossil Site, famous for the Eocene fossils found in a 49 Mya lake bed at the north end of Republic. The Center hosts visitors from as far away as Australia and Japan, and showcases both a history of the region and some of the most intricately preserved specimens of fossil life on earth.
The Ferry County courthouse is currently a candidate for historical preservation for its distinct Art Deco styling. Originally constructed of wood, the courthouse burned to the ground in 1934 and was re-constructed in concrete and stucco. The two-year project was completed in 1936, and the courthouse now stands as a sentinel of county government on Courthouse Hill.
FIRST COURTHOUSE - CURRENT COURTHOUSE
“Ferry County officials are pleased to announce that the lift has been repaired. With your cooperation, we can now successfully accommodate those individuals facing mobility challenges in the courthouse. A form is provided to expedite your request for special accommodation or you may simply use the courtesy phones as provided at the entrances to the courthouse. Please contact the appropriate office you wish to visit for more information.”
PHOTOS OF FERRY COUNTY