History of the Okanogan Valley

Everyone and every group starts somewhere. Looking back helps all of us to look forward. This is the history you may want to know about with as much detail as can be mustered. Take it all into consideration when judging the website and its sponsors.

This central region of northern Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia goes by more than one name. The Okanogan, Okanogan Country and most famously, the Okanogan Valley.

Nearly 3000 years ago, the Syilx tribe, commonly referred to as the Okanogan people, were the first individuals to occupy this land. Today, descendant members of the Okanogan Nation Alliance remain vital contributors to the area’s natural resources and tourist attractions.

By 1811, the valley had become a hub for fur merchants and within 15 years the Brigade Trail, a trade route used for transporting furs, goods and supplies, was established and became a key source for economic growth.

The first group of American prospectors journeyed far to come here in 1858 during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in search of treasure and land. However, after being assaulted by some travelers, retaliations from the Syilx tribe discouraged these colonists from settling in the area.

Near the end of the 19th century, Okanogan was densely populated with Canadian and American settlers. By then the southern Okanogan region had become a prosperous space for miners, farmers and members of the service industry.

Although Washington is world-renowned for its apple farming, in Okanogan the crop didn’t start to become the type of export as we know it to be now until the 1920s. By the 1930s the shipping of fruits and goods was the driving force of their economy.

As of now, the Okanogan Valley has become a hotspot for vacationers and retirees. People come from all over North America to witness the stunning views, beautiful lakes and enjoy activities that the area is famous for, such as skiing, hiking, boating, and other watersports. In recent years vineyards and wineries have become popular tourist attractions within the region.