Pend Oreille County: Historic & Beautiful


Pend Oreille County is located in the far upper northeast corner of Washington and boasts some of the state’s most stunning natural beauty as well as being rich in history. The Pend Oreille runs through it and is one of only 20 north-flowing rivers in the U.S.

How many cave tours are there in Washington? One is Gardner Caves where rangers will lead you down 500 feet and let you experience true darkness when all the flashlights are turned off. Nearby is the tour of Boundary Dam, so named due to its proximity to the border.

At the U.S.-Canadian border crossing, you can clearly see the border as a large clear-cut section that runs east to west. No matter why this was done, it is neat to see and a great show-and-tell for the kiddos.

A visit to the Pend Oreille County Historical Society Museum in Newport, Washington, is a must for researchers. The museum offers a digital research center and has available more than 5000 photographs covering the area’s early history. The society has been publishing Big Smoke since 1969 and if your ancestor was a settler in the area no doubt his/her story might be in one of those issues. Their website is and they do have a Facebook page too.

More than 2000 varieties of iris are growing and for sale at the Newport Naturals Iris Gardens. Come see them in bloom and order your favorites. Visit them at 

There is also Riley Creek Blueberry Farm where we picked three gallons of berries in about an hour. And of course the North Pend Oreille Valley Lion’s Club Scenic train rides are a delightful experience…. and your train may even experience a hold-up!

There are at least four ghost towns in Pend Oreille County. Camden was a town from 1880 to 1906.  Scotia sprang up in the 1890s and faded away in the 1930s. Blueslide was settled in the early 1900s with timber as the dream for the area. It was named for the 150-foot blue-clay embankment through which a railroad tunnel was bored and still remains. Seneacquoteen (which manes “crossing of the river”) is located across the Pend Oreille River in Bonner County, Idaho. All that’s left of this town is a cemetery filled with headstones.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a summer trip to Pend Oreille County in our beautiful Washington might just be the getaway you’re looking for.

And I learned to remember the correct spelling by thinking “ore” as in mining ore. Pend OREille.  Simple.