History of Newport

Newport, Washington became the Pend Oreille County seat in 1911. The county is situated in the northeastern corner of Washington and was originally part of Stevens County. Newport is the largest city in Pend Oreille County and is nestled along the Pend Oreille River at the Washington-Idaho border approximately 40 miles north-east of Spokane.

Around the late 1880s and early 1890s a small community began to emerge east of the present city of Newport.  By 1892 this settlement was known as Newport, Idaho (later Oldtown). Its namesake denoted its purpose—a port for river and overland travel. Supplies from this port to the settlers in the Pend Oreille Valley were transported from Newport, Rathdrum and Sandpoint, Idaho. The “new port” of Idaho had a restaurant, general store with a post office, small hotel and a saloon.

In 1892 the Great Northern Railroad ran a line to Newport and further growth in the area occurred.

In 1895 the Talmadge brothers, Charles and Warren, acquired 40 acres of land and formed the “Newport, Washington Land Company” and platted the townsite of Newport, Washington. From its early inception, a controversy began over the location of the post office, then located in Newport, Idaho.  By 1901 the town of Newport, Washington had a population of over 200. Because the majority of the population was on the Washington side, the United States Postmaster General issued an order requiring the post office to be moved from the Idaho to the Washington side of Newport. This action officially eliminated the town of Newport, Idaho, and established the town of Newport, Washington. Newport, Idaho remained on the maps as an unincorporated village until April 1947, when the town was incorporated and the name Oldtown was officially adopted.

The Newport School District that had been established in 1892 had grew to 34 children by 1901. The first high school in the county was located in Newport. The first commencement was held in 1908, with one graduate. One of Newport’s most notable pioneer educators was Sadie Halstead. Ms. Halstead died in 1981 but served on local school boards and was elected as county superintendent of schools in 1939. Our middle school here in Newport is named after her. A large fire at this school occurred on October 26, 2001. The fire destroyed the lunchroom and multi-purpose wing of the school. The school district re-built that wing and later remodeled the entire school. Our local volunteer fire department and many other local firemen fought hard that day and saved the remaining middle school building. The State Fire Marshall said it was one of the finest fire fighting efforts he had the seen in his career. We are very proud of our local firemen and their valiant efforts in this fire.

The inauguration meeting of the Newport Town Council was held April 20, 1903 in the office of the Newport Miner Newspaper. TJ Kelly was the first elected mayor and conducted that meeting. TJ Kelly was honored with a park named after him that opened in downtown Newport on August 20, 2010.

Newport changed from a town to a city January 7, 1970. The City of Newport, Washington is currently a Mayor/Council form of government and is a code city. Essentially, Newport conducts its day to day business within the State of Washington laws, RCW 35A, that govern optional municipal code cities. The Newport City Council is called to order by the Mayor and all business of the City is conducted in accordance with State of Washington laws and Newport Resolution number 8-1-94 City Council Rules of Conduct, adopted September 20, 1994 and Resolution number 2-20-01 adopted February 20, 2001.

The current population of Newport, Washington is 2,114.