Newport serves the International Selkirk Loop as the southwest entrance on Highway 2, only an hour’s drive from Spokane and a twin city with Oldtown, Idaho on the lovely Pend Oreille River.
The towns of Newport, Washington and Oldtown, Idaho share a state line and a population of approximately 2,000 people. The towns were created in the early 1890’s by immigrants attracted to the area by the natural timber, mineral and agricultural resources of the region.
Steamboats were the primary means of transportation on the large, north flowing Pend Oreille River and led to the founding of the city of “New Port.” Visitors can relive the history of that era by visiting original structures like the ID and WA Northern Railroad Depot (1908) that houses the Pend Oreille County Historical Museum, the Great Northern Depot (1910) and the Newport Oldtown Chamber. Set prominently among the historical artifacts is the “The Big Wheel,” a vintage steam sawmill engine, and easily visible to visitors arriving from Spokane.
Although logging is still the prevailing industry in the area, the scenic beauty of the river valley is attracting more diversified businesses, retirees and visitors to the town. The county operates its own Public Utility District with the Box Canyon Damthat generates a surplus of hydroelectric energy at the second lowest rate in the United States. Take a tour of the dam which is located one hour north of Newport north of Ione on Hwy 31.
In sumer, the air is filled with the scent of lavender in this region. In early July wander down to the Newport City Park to take in the Pend Oreille Valley Lavender Festival, host to more than 60 artisan vendors.
After taking in Newport ’s charming downtown district, take the time to explore the natural splendor of the Colville National Forest. Check with the Colville Ranger Station on Hwy 20 just north of Newport for a host of year round recreational opportunities as well as this regions rich cultural and natural resource history. Stretch your legs on a short hike just north of the ranger station on the Upper & Lower Wolf Trails. The short, easy trail system offers suitable terrain for mountain biking and Nordic skiing. Wildlife, wildflowers and viewpoints can be enjoyed from these short trails. Camping, boat launch and hiking are available at nearby Pioneer Park east of Newport on LeClerc Road.
With nature’s splendor in their backyard and all the amenities of a major city close at hand, residents around Newport and Oldtown enjoy the best of both worlds. You are invited to spend time here and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
Visit the Newport / Oldtown Chamber of Commerce, next to the “Big Wheel” for more information.
For more things to do while in Eastern Washington visit the PORTA website.