Washington’s Northeast is Beast: EWU, Cheney, and Spokane History

When you say you’re from Washington a person’s first thought may be Washington D.C. So, then you have to correct them and say, “no, Washington state” and their mind jumps to the west coast, to Seattle and the surrounding areas, but no, you’re from Eastern Washington, a land full of rich history and interesting stories. This week our readings were all about this area, mainly Spokane and Cheney. Almost anyone can contribute to this history and bring it into the eyes of the public through a site called Spokane Historical. Spokane Historical is a website and mobile app that allows the public to read stories about buildings and locations in the greater Spokane area. Just recently the site hit its 500th post! With so many stories already written it’s hard to believe there is more to be done. However, Spokane still has so much to offer and so do the little cities and towns in the surrounding area such as Cheney, Washington.

If you’re from the state you’ve probably heard of Cheney before and one thing comes to mind, Eastern Washington University. EWU has a history going back to 1882, the same year Cheney was incorporated, and before Washington officially became a state in 1889. Cheney is a small city and EWU is a small school compared to other Universities in the state, but still, so much has happened there. Just recently the Cheney fires have come into more light, check out the brand new Wikipedia pages on them here and here, two of which took out the Cheney Normal School, the precursor to EWU, almost completely. Both times the school was almost not rebuilt, thankfully though, it was and thousands of students receive an education there every year. Some of these students will go on to write the history of EWU, Cheney, and other places in Eastern Washington, through the Public History program there.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the history would have to be the “battle” between Spokane Falls (now just called Spokane) and Cheney on who would hold the county seat. Cheney won the first round in a way “that became the stuff of local legend.” (Cheney-Thumbnail History, Kershner) However, Spokane would go on to win the vote a few years later and has held it ever since. More stories and facts about EWU’s and Cheney’s history can be seen in this brochure as well as the timeline for EWU’s 125th anniversary from back in 2006. Foe instance, in 1915 the “famous” pillars in front of Showalter Hall were constructed from granite from the Normal School’s old building.

Showalter Hall and Pillars

Also, in 1961 students were charged a tuition for the first time since towards the beginning of the century. Historic buildings still stand in Cheney as well, such as Bill’s Tavern on First Street and the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. There are also quite a few historical homes, feel free to browse through them here.

History is still happening at EWU. For example, in 2010 the school became the first to have an artificial red turf at Roos field, known as “The Inferno”.

The Inferno

Every year has the potential for something to happen to be recorded in the history books and every year more and more will be written in the history books from years past. It’s up to each and every one of us to make sure that history gets recorded, so take park in your community and learn its history and preserve it for the future!


2 thoughts on “Washington’s Northeast is Beast: EWU, Cheney, and Spokane History

  1. Lauren,
    Your title and intro paragraph had me laughing! So relatable! Your overview of Cheney history was compelling, and you did a great job at incorporating all of the reading materials. I also like that you brought up contemporary examples of history being made in Cheney. Tying the present day to your discussion of history engages your readers more!

    Liked by 1 person

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