Riparia, Wash.

A timeline for Riparia, Wash.

[Google Earth satellite image of Riparia and neighboring Little Goose Dam along the Snake River in southeast Washington state.]
A Google Earth satellite image of Riparia and neighboring Little Dam along the Snake River in southeast Washington state.
Riparia is located on the Snake River in the southern end of Whitman County, Wash., 68 miles upriver from the Columbia River and spanning both sides of Alkali Flat Creek at its mouth. Early names were Texas Ferry and Texas City, as the town was located above the Texas Rapids. The name was chosen by officials of the Northern Pacific Railway Company; Latin riparius, meaning river bank.
For more pictures of Riparia, click here.
For a Google Earth placemark, click here.

11,000 years ago - Human occupation begins on the lower Snake River. Hunters and gatherers in small groups use short-term camps along the river. (Miss and Cochran)

4,000 years ago - Natives start using pit houses and create villages, using the river's resources and developing fishing. (Miss and Cochran)

18th century - The horse is rapidly adopted by lower Snake River tribes. (Miss and Cochran)

1805 Oct. 12 - The Lewis & Clark expedition camps on the north side of the Snake River, about two miles downstream of Alkali Flat Creek and above the Texas Rapids, near where Riparia would be established 60 years later. The party had traveled 30 miles that day and camped there because of rapids and the closing darkness. (MacGregor)
The country on both sides is high dry
prairie plains without a stick of timber.
There is no wood of any kind to be seen
except a few small willows along the
shore; so that it is with difficulty we can
get enough to cook with. The hills on the
river are not very high, but rocky; the
rocks of a dark colour. The bed and
shores of the river are very stony; and
the stones of a round smooth kind.

The Journals of Patrick Gass, Friday 11th Oct. 1805

1860 - Gold is discovered on the Clearwater River in Idaho, soon followed by discoveries throughout northern Idaho and eastern Oregon. This prompts immigration into the region and establishes steamboats to ply the Snake River. (Miss and Cochran)

1860s - Riparia is a steamboat town. Sternwheelers provide the only transportation through the region through the 1870s.

1864 - About 10 or 12 steamboats carry 36,000 passengers up and down the Snake River.
[No. 5 steamer Spokane on Snake River, Riparia, Wash.]
No. 5 steamer Spokane on Snake River,
Riparia, Wash.

1870 - Census finds 147 people living in what are now Spokane and Whitman counties. The population increases as cattle and sheep farmers come to the area, soon followed by wheat farmers.

1879 - Tonnage carried by boat on the Snake River reaches a peak of 65,975.

1880s - Riparia becomes a railroad town.

1880 - School district No. 38 established before this year. First location was on Alice Simmons homestead, R38, T13, S30. Census finds 11,276 people living in Spokane and Whitman counties.

1880 September - James Silcott grants the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company 25 acres of ground. Silcott lays out his town with streets parallel to the river. Two saloons, a boarding house, shops, a trading house and at least two residences occupy the town.

1881 - First railroad line is built from Dayton by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company.

1881 Feb. 2 - Post office established near Texas Ferry, called Texsas, on Columbia County side.

1881 July 27 - Stella Irene Stuart born to William Henry and Mary Jane Stuart.

1882 - Riparia has about 80 inhabitants, a store, three saloons, a restaurant and a hotel. (Miss and Cochran)

1882 Oct. 23 - Minnie Winefred Stuart born to William Henry and Mary Jane Stuart.
[Railroad bridge at Riparia]
Railroad bridge at Riparia

1882 Nov. 17 - Post office established in Columbia County, Thomas J. Peabody, postmaster.

1885 Aug. 30 - Henry Io Stuart born to William Henry and Mary Jane Stuart.

1888 - Town has around 100 year-round residents. River navigation by sternwheelers and steamboats below Riparia soon comes to an end.

1888 February - The steamer Almota operates the river between Riparia and Lewiston, making two trips a week. It left Riparia at 4 p.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays and arrive in Lewiston at noon the next day. It left Lewiston at 1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays and arrived in Riparia at 5 a.m. The Almota receives a new boiler in Riparia.

1888 June 4 - Oregon Railway and Navigation Company crews begin work on another line from Riparia to Endicott. 175 men work on the line, with more expected in the next few days. Work also begins on a bridge crossing the Snake River at Riparia, the second to span the lower Snake. (Carley and Sappington 5)

1888 July - Excavation for the bridge's abutments has begun on both sides of the river.

1888 August 28 - Oregon Railway & Navigation operations begin from Riparia to La Crosse.

1888 November - Two of the bridge's five piers are finished. Three shifts of 16 men are used to sink the caisson for one of the pneumatic foundations.

1889 April - Bridge iron work is nearly complete and the draw is almost ready to swing into place, with trains crossing this month.

1890 Oct. 16 - Texsas post office closed.

1893 - An explosion onboard the steamer Annie Faxon causes it to be taken to Riparia for salvage.

1896 - Spokane, Walla Walla & Portland R.P.O. begins Railway Mail Service.

1897 March 19 - Laura Valeda Stuart born to William Henry and Mary Jane Stuart.
[William Henry Stuart]
William Henry Stuart

1897 July 27 - Post office transferred to Whitman County, William H. Stuart, postmaster.

1899 - Spokane & Portland R.P.O. assumes service. [Riparia postmark]

1900 - Spokane & Umatilla R.P.O. assumes service. William Henry Stuart has 17 other people living in the Stuart Hotel: wife Mary; daughters Minnie and Laura; son Henry Io; daughter Alice Simmons; her children Maggie, Mary and Henry; and "9 unrelated persons."

1901 - Riparia has one saloon, no store, and a ferry is maintained. (Miss and Cochran)
Some write for pleasure
Others write for fame
But I write siplly
To sighn my name
Opal Sperry

Remember me now
Remember me ever
Remember the fun
We've had to gather
Opal Sperry
Written this
30 day of Jan 1905

Journal of Opal Sperry

1902 - Three people are buried in a small cemetery in R38, T13, S30.

1905 March 25 - A program is held at the Riparia School, presented by teacher Vina Bundy. School officers are W.H. Stuart, Silas Smith and L. Nichols. Pupils are Leo Chaffin, Opal Sperry, Maggie Simmons, Earl McIntosh, Ruth Chaffin, Fred Ellis, Elton Smith, Frank McIntosh, Wallace Quesnelle, Gladys Smith, Winnie Simmons, Rollo Ellis, Lora Nichols, Johnny Archer, Laura Stuart, Jesse Bundy, Billy Galagher, Mary Archer, Essa Nichols, Cecil Schofield and Wayne Sperry.

1908 - Lewiston & Riparia R.P.O. assumes service. School rebuilt north of town, R38, T13, S19.

1908 June - The Stuart Hotel is rebuilt, at a cost of $10,000, as a concrete/brick structure after the original building wood burned. W.H. Stuart wants to rename the town Stuart "in honor of his late brother who built the first building in this part of the country. As a result this little village of less than 100 inhabitants will enjoy the rare distinction of having three names and if names are an influence the town should prosper." (Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 16, 1908.)
[The Stuart Hotel]
The Stuart Hotel

1908 July 1 - Oregon Railway and Navigation Company opens its Lewiston-Riparia line. Two passenger trains "are to be put into service, affording convenient connections with the east bound and Portland bound trains at Riparia. ... The distance of the new line is 71 miles and the schedule ... will provide for covering the distance in two and one-half hours." (Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 27, 1908.)

1908 August - The steamer Wallowa blasts out and removes rocks and reefs in the Snake River. Through September, the crew eliminates the Roll Rock reef of Texas Rapids.

1909 - The Camas Prairie Railroad builds a line along the north bank of the Snake River.

1909 May 3 - Northern Pacific Railway begins operations from Riparia to the Snake River junction, 41 miles away.

1909 July 7 - William H. Hobson becomes postmaster.

1910 - A plat map (Carley and Sappington 9) shows a depot, restaurant, the Stuart Hotel, post office, feed barn, ship yards and other unnamed buildings. Across the tracks from the hotel were saloons and railroad buildings. The town also had a meat market, a summer house for the hotel, a hobo jungle and a sawmill.

1910 Oct. 26 - William H. Stuart becomes postmaster again.

1912 Dec. 18 - Clyde G. Dopkins becomes postmaster.

1913 July 10 - William Henry Stuart dies.

1915 March 16 - Mary Alice Brunner born to Voyle Oliver Brunner and Margaret Irene Simmons.

1918 June 26 - Ray F. Jackson becomes postmaster.

1919 Sept. 2 - Joseph Mandel becomes postmaster.

1921 Oct. 31 - Mary Ray becomes postmaster.

1922 Nov. 8/9 - Charles E. Ray becomes postmaster.

1926 - Lewiston & Haas R.P.O. assumes service. Additional routings are Moscow & Haas R.P.O. until 1955, and Moscow & Ayer R.P.O. until 1955.

1928 - School rebuilt on R38, T13, S30.

1933 - Lewiston & Riparia R.P.O. assumes service.

1934 August - Riparia school consolidates with Canyon, becomes No. 182.

1939 Feb./April - Donovan (or Donavan) W. Boggan becomes postmaster.

1939 Oct. 19 - Iris Wanda Crawford becomes postmaster.

1940 - The last regular commercial steamboat run is made.

1940 March 13 - Helene M. Voss becomes postmaster.

1942 May 7 - Iva Schreiber becomes postmaster.

1943 - By this year, the Stuart Hotel has closed.
[Riparia depot, October 1963]
Riparia depot, October 1963

1945 March 31 - Post office closed; mail goes to Hay.

1947 Sept. 1 - Post office reopened, Gladys Celeste Wilbourn, postmaster.

1954 - Lewiston & Ayer R.P.O. assumes service.

1957-61 - School district consolidates with Hay.

1963 April 12 - Post office closed; mail goes to Lacrosse.

1967 - The town is declared dead in newspaper articles in the Colfax Gazette.
[Riparia, 1998]
Riparia, October 1998. What's left of the
railroad bridge sits to the right of the
tall tree in the center.

1969 Feb. 21 - The creation of the pool behind the Lower Monumental Dam begins. Part of Riparia is flooded.

1970 - Little Goose Dam is completed, just upriver from Riparia.

1984 summer - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hires University of Idaho anthropology lab to test Riparia area for its potential for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Dig reports 13,000 artifacts.

1998 October - Little is left of Riparia. All that remains of the railroad bridge is part of the towers' foundations; the north one is used as a picnic area. The Camas Prairie Railroad line has been relocated away from the river. Trees have overgrown what was the town. There is no trace of the railroad depot or the Stuart Hotel. A primitive campground sits in their place.

Riparia is quiet now, the only sounds those of the flies and the fish jumping to catch them.
[Riparia, 1998]
Riparia, October 1998, as seen from the south side of the Snake River.
[Snake River at Riparia, August 2000]
Perkins family at Riparia, August 2000.
What's left of the railroad bridge is at right.

2000 August - My family and I stopped at Riparia, which is about 15 minutes north of Highway 12 connecting Clarkston and Walla Walla. We threw rocks into the water and walked along the river, watching a tugboat push a barge toward Little Goose Dam. When we left and crossed the dam back to the south side of the river, we stayed and watched the locks fill and the barge and boat rise to the upper reservoir.


Carley, Caroline D., and Robert Lee Sappington. Archaelogical Test Excavations of the Historic Component of 45-WT-1 Texas City/Riparia, Whitman County, Washington, 1983. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Anthropological Research Manuscript Series No. 77, 1984.

Erickson, Edith E. Whitman County: From Abbieville to Zion. Colfax, WA: University Printing and Copying, 1985.

"For a Service on River Line." Lewiston Morning Tribune 16 June 1908: 2.

Google Earth 2 Dec. 2005.

Kirk, Ruth, and Carmela Alexander. Exploring Washington’s Past: A Road Guide to History. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990.

Lever, W.H. Publisher. History of Whitman County. 1901.

MacGregor, Carol Lynn, ed. The Journals of Patrick Gass: Member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997.

Miss, Christian J., and Bruce D. Cochran. Archaeological Evaluations of the Riparia (45WT1) and Ash Cave (45WW61) Sites on the Lower Snake River. Pullman, WA: Laboratory of Archaeology and History, Washington State University, 1982.

Perkins (Cottingham), Judith Ann. Personal interviews and experiences. 1990-2001.

Perkins, Patrick. Personal research. 1990-present.

Rea, Jay W., ed. The Inland Empire in the Pacific Northwest: Historical Studies and Sketches of Ceylon S. Kingston. Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1981.

Reid, Kenneth C., ed. The Riparia excavations (45WT1) in the Lower Snake Valley, Southeastern Washington. John A. Draper, et al. Pullman, WA: Laboratory of Archaeology and History, Washington State University, 1991.

Snowden, Clinton A. History of Washington. New York: The Century History Company, 1909.

Sperry, Opal. Journal. ca. 1905.

Startin, Denise. Personal research. 1997.

Talbott (Brunner Cottingham), Mary Alice. Personal interviews and experiences. 1981-2001.

Torgeson, Lenora Barr. Snake River Hills. [United States]: n.p., 1975.

"Train Service Starts July 1." Lewiston Morning Tribune 27 June 1908: 2.

United States. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A History of the Walla Walla District, 1948-1970. Walla Walla, WA: USACE, 1970.

United States. U.S. Census Bureau. 1880 Washington Census: Walla Walla County. V. 2, ED 48, Sheet 9, Line 33.

United States. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 Washington Census: Whitman County, Texas Precinct. V. 21, ED 102, Sheet 5, Line 33.

Washington State Railroads Historical Society. Washington Railroad History Dates. [] 23 Feb. 2006.

Webber, Burt. Postmarked Washington. Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1987.

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