The history of Deer Park is a story mirrored throughout the West. Though a few pioneer families settled there in the 1880s, the town 25 miles north of downtown Spokane began to take off with the arrival of railroad tracks and an entrepreneur with a rented sawmill. It’s said that workers laying track from Spokane to Canada for the Spokane Falls & Northern Railway in 1889 noted that wildlife in the area made it a veritable “deer park.” The next year, a young New Yorker named William Hopkins Short set up a rented portable sawmill at the site and began supplying lumber under contract to the Washington Mill Co. Regional demand for wood was up after the Great Spokane Fire, which destroyed more than 30 downtown blocks in August 1889. Deer Park had 300 people by 1899, and businessman P.J. Kelly circulated a petition to incorporate the city. Today, Deer Park is a farming, residential and timber community of about 3,000 residents.
On the Web: Find more historical photos and present-day comparisons at spokesman.com/then-and-now.
– Jesse Tinsley