TOver the years, Northport has suffered a series of setbacks, including fires and economic depression, but somehow it has managed to survive.
Northport, like many of the boom towns in its heyday, was founded on the energy and dreams of miners and prospectors seeking their wealth in placer gold. In 1890, on Red Mountain in British Columbia, north of the Columbia River and just across the Canadian border, two prospectors from Spokane made a series of discoveries. The two mining prospectors, Joe Morris and Joe Bourgeois, soon staked their bonanza claims.
The Inland Empire Railroad quickly sized up the situation. By 1892, construction gangs were hard at work laying track along the south side of the Columbia River to a site fifteen miles below the Canadian border. In 1892, D.C. Cobrin, renowned railroad builder, purchased this site, which became known as Northport. In 1892, a passenger train arrived at Northport pulling behind it a flatcar with a post office and a saloon loaded on it.
In early 1893, a fire swept through the business district, reducing it to ashes. It was the first of many fires to hit Northport and the first of a series of disasters to haunt the town. The disaster was short-lived, however, and by 1896, Northport was really coming on strong. The north half of the Colville Indian Reservation had been thrown open to mineral entry, and hundreds of miners and prospectors stampeded in to seek gold.
Buildings were going up everywhere, as everyone wanted a piece of the action. By 1898, the mines in the area were producing ore at such a great rate that the Le Roi smelter was constructed to refine the ore from the famous Le Roi Mine and others. A railroad bridge had been constructed across the Columbia River, and the railroad had reached the boom town of Rossland, the famous “Golden City” of the Canadian west, and ore from there began to arrive at the Northport smelter.
But the boom town days of Northport were nearing an end. The Le Roi management sold their interest in the smelter to a Canadian investor, and much of its custom ore, now being refined on the Canadian side, began to slip. The once thriving community began to decline. Businesses began shutting down. The final blow came on the morning of July 29, 1914. The greatest fire in Northport history leveled almost the entire business district. Northport would not recover as it had in the past. A gloom settled over the town and worsened when the smelter finally shut down and was dismantled. By the 1930s, the glory days of Northport were history. The original smokestack of the smelter still stands today as a monument of those days gone by.