NE Washington and the Columbia River Drainage

Two dominant features of Northeastern Washington are the geologic region of the Okanogan Highlands and the Columbia River drainage passing thru that region...
The total area of the Columbia River drainage is 258,000 square miles or 165,120,000 acres, with 19% of the watershed being in Washington State.

Winter on WA Hwy 25 just south of the Canada/U.S. border with the Northport Bridge in view crossing the Columbia River linking Ferry and Stevens Counties.

Set between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Cascade Mountains to the west the Okanogan Highlands is not only a geographic area but a geologic region of the inland Pacific Northwest. This area encompasses portions of southern British Columbia, Canada, and northeastern Washington State in the U.S.A.  The expanse of the area lay east of the Okanogan Mountains (a spur of the North Cascade Range) and stretches west just beyond the boundary of Idaho State line into the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. This mountainous terrain takes in portions of the Canadian Monashee Range, and the Beaverdell Range to the north. The stateside mountains include the Kettle River Range, the Selkirk, the Chewelah, the San Poil, and Huckleberry Mountains.

The Okanogan Highlands north / south boundary definitions extend from the north in the Coldstream Valley, east of Vernon, British Columbia to the southern reaches of Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River upstream of Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. Moving east the southern boundary follows the Spokane River to the foothills of the Rockies. Rivers within the Okanogan Highlands include the Columbia, Okanogan River, the Pend Oreille River, the Little Pend Oreille River, the Colville River, the Kettle River and West Kettle River, the Grandby Riverm the Similkameen River and the San Poil River.
Washington State Regions, WA DNR Geologic Service
In the far northeastern corner of Washington State where the U.S./Canada border meets the Washington/Idaho border evidence of early indigenous peoples in the area dates to some 12,000 years ago. Fast forward to 1810, when European fur traders were crossing this area in search of beaver pelts. The subsequent settlement of Metaline Falls occurred in 1900. At that time most of the area residents were then employed by the Mammoth and Morning lead-zinc mines. The city of Metaline Falls was officially incorporated on 13th May 1911.
A bench over looking the Pend Oreille River in a riverside park within the town of Metaline Falls, Washington.

The city of Metaline Falls lays within the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains
in the northeast corner of Washington State.
Gardner Cave, Crawford State Park. Metaline Falls
Descending into Gardner Cave, a limestone cavern in Pend Oreille county, Washington State.
The cave story told to us by the WA State Park guide states that in 1899, homesteader Ed Gardner’s horse stumbled into the sinkhole that now marks the entrance to his namesake cave. Gardner was a bootlegger and legend has it he secured the cave as his bootlegging cellar and possibly hiding place for his still. Business was good until he drank too much of his wares while engaged in a high stakes poker game with William Crawford and lost the deed to his property. It was Crawford (the parks namesake) who ultimately signed the property over to Washington State Parks.

The geologic history of the cave is far older, of course. About 500 million years ago, the site was ocean floor. The shells of dead sea creatures decomposed into an ooze that would eventually become limestone. The uplift of the Selkirk Mountains caused the limestone sediment to fold and crack. Later, as water seeped and dripped into the cavern through the calcium-rich limestone, an array of deposit formations began growing into unique and interesting cave features.

Catherine next to the cave's prominent feature, a 7.8 ton column, the largest in Washington State.
Limestone is the chief form of calcium carbonate rock, which is dissolved by water that contains carbon dioxide, forming a calcium bicarbonate solution in underground caverns. If stalactites – the ceiling formations – grow long enough to connect with stalagmites on the floor, they form a column

Ferry County is a geographic area and landscape dominated by the Kettle River Range in NE Washington State. ...
Sherman Peak (left) at 7,011' and Snow Peak at 7,103' in the center of the Kettle River Range seen from the west.
The city of Republic Washington lays hidden in the valley  centered in the foreground of this photograph of the nearby landscape (above). The middle-ground, the round basalt dome of rock is Big Gib, the iconic landmark of Republic. In the background are Sherman Peak (left) at 7,011' and Snow Peak at 7,103' in the center of the Kettle River Range seen from the west. These are two mountain summits near the middle of this north / south range. 5,574’ Sherman Pass, Washington State’s highest year round mountain pass, is down and to the left of Sherman Peak (unseen in this photo). ...
The County Seat of Ferry County
Republic Washington sits on the western foothills of the Kettle River Range at a base elevation of 2,400 feet above sea level, 30 miles south of the U.S. / Canadian in northeastern Washington State. The small incorporated city is the seat of Ferry County covering 1.59 square miles of landscape.  2014 U.S. Census population is 1,083, another thousand or more people live in the nearby countryside and seasonal visitation add additional people into this area during the fair weather months.

Republic, the county seat of Ferry County and one of Washington's smallest cities.
... It was gold prospectors who in the late 19th century founded The Mining District of Eureka on mineral rich Eureka Creek. The Great Republic claim, found by Thomas Ryan and Philip Creasor on March 5, 1896, was the highest producer of gold in the region and by 1900 the settlement was booming. A post office was established but postal authorities rejected the name Eureka because there was already a town by that name in Clark County, Washington. The citizens then decided to honor the Great Republic mining claim by proposing the name Republic. This name was accepted and the settlement was incorporated as a city on May 22, 1900.

Curlew Washington
Curlew is a small Ferry County town and outlaying community located at the confluence of the Kettle River, Curlew Creek and Long Alec Creek in the foothills of the northwestern slope of the Kettle River Range. The 2010 census places the population of  Curlew  as 118, although this does not account for many local folks residing in the countryside surrounding this riverside town,  nor does it include the seasonal residents of the area.

Curlew's historic Parker Truss bridge originally built in 1908 by William Oliver - J. Foster Fanning photography

Curlew is accessed and served by three primary travel routes:
·        Foremost WA State Highway 21 linking this community to Republic (23 miles south) and Grand Forks, B.C. (12 miles north).
·        The Boulder/Deer Creek Highway, county road 582, provides a route which climbs eastward over the Kettle River Range via Boulder Pass at 4,600’ gaining 2,800’ elevation above Curlew (at 1,795’) and leads to WA State Highway 395 on the east side of Ferry County.
·        The Kettle River Road is the 3rd primary route and a paved surface road leading westward, up-river from Curlew and follows the Kettle River 16  miles up to Midway B.C. this route also leads to Toroda Creek Road which eventually enters Okanogan County.

Kettle River Road, Curlew Washington, Ferry County, J. Foster Fanning - photography
The Kettle River Road heading west, upriver from Curlew Washington in northern Ferry County (above). Bamber Mountain is in the distance.
Curlew Washington, Ferry County, Kettle River Range, J. Foster Fanning - photography

Panoramic view of Curlew Washington (above) seen from the Vulcan Mountain Road, looking southeast. This view is also looking up Curlew Creek, above it's confluence with the Kettle River. The snow covered peaks are; Mount Leona (6,460'), Midnight Mountain (6,660') and Copper Butte(7,240') in the Kettle River Range in the background.

Curlew's two bridges, Ferry County Washington,
J. Foster Fanning photography
The two bridges of Curlew Washington on a deep bend of the Kettle River in northwest Ferry County. In the foreground is the russet colored WA Hwy 21 two lane bridge. The green/blue tint bridge beyond is the historic Parker Truss bridge built in 1908 by William Oliver company  The view is looking NNE downstream. (click on the mage for a larger view).   

Peggy Brixner Park, also known as Brixner Park or  “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole” is a public access park on the banks of the Kettle River, in the town of Curlew, Washington.  This park has been used for picnicking, swimming and family get-togethers for generations. Native Americans landed their local ferry on this sandy beach long before the whiteman came to this valley.

The park came into formal existence when the Brixner family donated the land to Ferry County to be used as a public park in memory of Peggy Brixner.

Kayakers at Curlew Washington, J. Foster Fanning, photography
A kayaking family enjoy a brief stop at Curlew's ever popular Brixner Park and the "Ol Swimmin". The historic Parker Truss bridge forms the background for this photo. Other than at flood stage or during the winter ice the this stretch of the Kettle River, within the first big bend into the United States, is a benign waterway, easy to kayak, canoe and in the summer months lazily float.
And speaking of floating the Kettle River, this is one of those rare wild rivers where the kayaker has to stay on the lookout for wildlife crossing their course (below).
A kayaker pauses allowing a mule deer doe to cross the Kettle River. J. Foster Fanning, photography


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