LOCAL NEWS

Little town of Republic at the center of gun controversy

Nov 19, 2018, 9:16 AM | Updated: 2:24 pm
Republic...
(City of Republic Police Dept.)
(City of Republic Police Dept.)

The gun law controversy swirling around the town of Republic, Washington has many people — OK, that might be an exaggeration — it has ME wondering about the history of this far-from-Seattle Evergreen State community that dates to a gold rush way back in the 19th century.

Republic is the county seat of Ferry County, which was created in 1899 in what’s now the upper right part of the state, way up in the northeast corner near Canada and Idaho (though neighboring Pend Oreille County occupies the actual northeast corner).

Republic’s county is named for Elisha P. Ferry, who, coincidentally, was inaugurated 129 years ago this week as the first governor of the state of Washington. Ferry had also served as governor during the Territorial Era, and is the only person to have served in both capacities.

The WPA guide to Washington, published nearly 80 years ago, describes Republic as “hidden in the folds of the Okanogan Highlands and the Kettle River Range.” Population then was 710 people; in 2017, it was 1,062.

“Place Names of Washington” author Robert Hitchman writes this about Republic:

Town in the Eureka Gulch mining district, near the head of the San Poil River at the confluence of Granite Creek, 25 miles south of the Canadian border, Ferry County. This town, the most important in the county, was once called “Republic Camp” [for the name of the company formed to work the mine]; the area on Eureka Creek is sometimes called “Old Town” or “North Republic.”

The dramatic history of Republic hinges around early-day mining. After a rich gold strike on Eureka Creek, the town was established by a group of 60 miners as “The Mining District of Eureka,” and platted by Philip Creasor. At about the same time, another rich strike was made on Granite Creek [by John Welty]. By 1900, [Republic] had become the sixth [largest] city in eastern Washington, with the usual town facilities, including 28 saloons and two dance halls.

Postal authorities refused the name of Eureka for the post office because a town existed with that name in Clark County. The present name was proposed by citizens to honor the Great Republic [company’s] mining claim.

In the late 1930s, according to the WPA guide, a few modern structures had been added to Republic by that time, but “the town retains a flavor of the Old West along its main street, with an ancient ‘opry house,’ now a motion picture theater, balconied and false-fronted buildings, and old-time bars untouched by the fire of 1938, which razed a section of the street.”

The tantalizing yet hopelessly dated WPA guide entry for Republic continues, “Several gold mines operate more or less sporadically along a mile and a half of gulch leading northward from the end of main street. Visitors are admitted at the discretion of the foreman in charge but must sign a liability waiver.”

If you’re up for making a visit to see what might remain of Republic’s 19th century charm – or 1930s charm, for that matter – Google Maps says it’s exactly 300 miles from Seattle City Hall to downtown Republic. You should be able to make it in just over five hours, once you can escape Seattle traffic.

More from Feliks Banel

 

Local News

starbucks office...
L.B. Gilbert

Requirement for Starbucks workers returning to office is about ‘fairness’

Starbucks office employees can no longer work from home full time, says interim CEO Howard Schultz in an announcement earlier this month
10 hours ago
Cold Seattle...
Bill Kaczaraba

Frigid, but sunny start to the workweek in Puget Sound

It will be a frigid, but sunny start to the workweek across the Puget Sound, with highs in the 30s. Temps are even lower in the mountains.
10 hours ago
Hinman Glacier...
Associated Press

Washington’s Hinman Glacier gone after thousands of years

The largest glacier between the high peaks of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak has melted away after a long battle with global warming.
10 hours ago
Tyre Nichols 900x506...
Graham Johnson, KIRO 7 News

Local law enforcement officials, community leaders continue to lament death of Tyre Nichols

Anger and heartbreak over the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis is felt around Puget Sound this weekend.
10 hours ago
Pierce County substation...
Associated Press

Man accused in holiday substation vandalism released from custody

One of the two men charged with vandalizing electrical substations in Washington state over the holidays to cover a burglary was ordered released from federal custody Friday to seek substance abuse help.
10 hours ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

Thurston County community continues to remember victims of deadly house fire

Tumwater District Stadium was packed Sunday night as family, friends, and most of the community came out to pay tribute
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Little town of Republic at the center of gun controversy