North Central Washington has a lot of great old buildings. One of the nicest looking, especially in Okanogan County, is the Okanogan County Court House.
Okanogan County sits in the northernmost part of North Central Washington and is home to a number of great communities, attractions, and things to experience. You can visit an Old West themed town, the grave site of Chief Joseph, the largest hydroelectric producing dam in the nation, and even visit a ghost town without leaving the county.
If you love history, Okanogan County can help you out there too. Here is a brief look at the museums you can experience when you visit Okanogan County.
Okanogan County Museums
The Shafer Museum is located in Winthrop, Washington and is home to some of the best examples of historic machinery used in the early days of the region.
Website: Shafer Museum
Okanogan County Historical Museum
The Okanogan County Historical Museum is located on the north end of Okanogan and includes a great display of artifacts detailing the early days of the county.
Website: Okanogan County Historical Museum
Conconully is a very small community with a fascinating history. That history can be explored with a quick stop at the Conconully Museum.
Website: Conconully Museum
Colville Tribal Museum
The Colville Tribal Museum does a great job of telling the story of Native American history in North Central Washington.
Website: Colville Tribal Museum
Fort Okanogan State Park Interpretive Center
Fort Okanogan State Park is a day-use-only state park that features a great view of the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers. It also features an outstanding interpretive center with some very nice displays on both what life at the fort was like, as well as its impact on the area around it.
Website: Fort Okanogan State Park Interpretive Center
Riverside, Washington is a small town in Okanogan County, located right along both Highway 97 and the Okanogan River. It’s primarily an agricultural based community with one small block of businesses, a nice little park, and some surrounding homes. Anyone loving getting off the main road and getting a look at an example of what’s left of real small town America should take the few minutes it takes to experience Riverside.
The entire area that Riverside takes up is just under a full square mile. In town is a small grocery store that years ago was an true Old West saloon. There’s also a locally famous retail establishment there known as Detro’s Western Store. This cute little historic store is home to a fine selection of everything you could hope to find in a western store. There’s a fine selection of ropes, western apparel, cowboy hats, Old West style toys, and of course cowboy boots. If you have kids, take a minute to read the historic marker across the street while the little ones play in the park.
Exploring North Central Washington’s small towns is a great way to learn more about the region, have a fun time, and come away having visited somewhere you may have never been to before. It’s truly a worthwhile experience.
There’s an old western film out there called The Cariboo Trail. It was made in 1950 and stars Randolph Scott and George “Gabby” Hayes. The storyline of the film is two cattlemen head into British Columbia via the Cariboo Trail with the intent to raise cattle and try their hand at gold mining, but they find trouble instead.
If you drive north or south on Highway 97 near Okanogan, you drive right by a historical marker put up in a widening by the Okanogan Historical Society. It marks one part of the actual Cariboo Trail.
The Cariboo Trail closely followed the Okanogan River all the way to Lake Osoyoos. With an elevation gain of just 125 feet from where it meets the Columbia River to the lake, it made for a rather easy route to move cattle. Not that it was a completely easy job. Fording the river at several points was particularly challenging.
This route is also sometimes referred to as the Okanogan Trail. It gets its name as the Cariboo Trail for the fact that it ended in the Cariboo mining district of British Columbia.
The southern start of the Cariboo Trail varies from person to person with some saying it begins at the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers, some saying it starts in the Wenatchee area, some that it begins when it enters the Grand Coulee, and there is evidence that some considered themselves on the Cariboo Trail after they left the Wallula Gap near the present day Tri-Cities.
Whether it was miners heading into British Columbia or cattle being driven there to feed them, the Cariboo Trail was an important local route that helped establish settlement in the region.
Riverside, Washington is a small town located in Okanogan County, approximately seven miles north of Omak. It sits right on the Okanogan River and has a unique history. It’s worth a quick drive off the highway to take a look at it and stop and maybe even buy something at one of the few small businesses there.
Here are five fun facts about Riverside, Washington.
As Far As You Go
When you’re driving up Highway 97, you pass Riverside, Washington and continue north to Oroville and eventually the USA – Canada border. Years ago though, when riverboats were going up and down the Okanogan River, the town of Riverside was the furthest north you could make it before having to stop.
The Riverside Airport?
The town of Riverside barely makes up one full square mile in area. But within its boundaries sits an airport owned and operated by the Omak City Council of nearby Omak, Washington. Though it’s located in Riverside, it goes by the name of the Omak Municipal Airport.
What’s In A Name
A little over a decade before it was officially incorporated in 1913, the town that would become Riverside was first platted in 1902 and was originally known as Republic Landing.
Having been officially incorporated in 1913, Riverside had a population of 209 people during the 1920 U.S. Census, its first as a town. It’s lowpoint came in 1950 when it had just 149 residents. It “exploded” in population in 2000 when 348 people were counted as living there. That number lowered back down to 280 though by the 2010 census a decade later.
You’re Not Welcome Here
Visitors driving through the area are of course welcome to take a detour and drive into or through the small town of Riverside. Over a century ago though there was a man who wasn’t so welcome. Frank Watkins was an outlaw in the Pacific Northwest and made Riverside his home for a time. When he turned up shot and killed one day, the local townspeople disapproved of him so much that though they buried him, they chose not to bury him inside the town’s cemetery. His grave is still there, up on the hill above the cemetery, fenced off and hundreds of feet away from his fellow residents of Riverside.
Omak Lake sits, naturally, just a short drive from the community of Omak, Washington. It’s a popular local getaway for those wanting to swim, kayak, waterski, go fishing, and more. Omak Lake offers a unique atmosphere with the beautiful water acting as an almost oasis among the dry surrounding hills.
Here is a look at five fun facts about Omak Lake.
The Largest of Them All!
Omak Lake is the largest saline lake in the entire state of Washington.
Okay… Not Actually the “Largest”
While Omak Lake may be the largest saline lake in Washington State, it is the 12th largest natural lake in the state overall.
Where Does Omak Lake’s Water Come From?
Omak Lake is fairly big in size and gets its water naturally from three sources: Kartar Creek, No Name Creek, and Beaverhouse Creek.
Once A River…
Omak Lake is long and skinny and actually occupies what was at one time a channel of the Columbia River.
Where Does It Go?
While there are three creeks feeding water into Omak Lake, the lake actually has no outlets.