Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Fort Walla Walla Historic District

Walla Walla City, Walla Walla County, WA

Fort Walla Walla [†]

The establishment of military posts at strategic points throughout the western frontier was often responsible for the location and growth of the many towns. In no place was the life of a fort more closely interwoven with that of a community than early Walla Walla. Settlement of the Walla Walla Valley and the town of Walla Walla was advanced a good number of years by the presence of a military garrison.

There were two earlier posts known as Fort Walla Walla. The original Fort Walla Walla was constructed in 1818, by the North West Company near where the Walla Walla River empties into the Columbia River. This post was taken over by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, and in 1855, was abandoned. The second Fort Walla Walla was built by the U.S. Army in 1856, in what is now downtown Walla Walla. This post was also later abandoned. In May, 1857, Company E of the 9th Infantry encamped several miles from the straggling community of shacks and tents which had been built around the second Fort Walla Walla. On the new site, the 9th Infantry constructed the third Fort Walla Walla. On May 23, 1859, this fort was officially declared a military reservation. It consisted of 640 acres in addition to some hay and timber reservations, later relinquished.

Beginning in 1859, the matter of providing escorts for road builder Captain John Mullan sometimes occupied half the garrison. Mullan's road extended from Fort Walla Walla to Fort Benton, Montana, the head of navigation on the Missouri. In the 1860's, Fort Walla Walla and the nearby town was an important communication and transportation link to the gold fields of Idaho and Montana. At this time, in fact, Walla Walla was the firfct large community in what later became Eastern Washington.

By 1865, all but a few of the regular Army troops were withdrawn, and in 1867, the fort was placed under the supervision of a Quartermaster's Agent. In 1873, the fort was garrisoned once again; and for the next thirty-seven years, the fort was occupied by many different units including: the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 14th Cavalry; the 2nd, 19th, 21st, and 24th Infantry; and the 10th and 30th Artillery.

Fort Walla Walla was originally built in response to the Yakima Indian War of the late 1850's, which involved such Columbia Plateau tribes as the Spokanes, Couer d'Alenes, Palouses, and Yakimas. Later, troops from Fort Walla Walla were involved in the Modoc, Nez Perce and Bannock Wars, plus just about every other Indian dispute in the Northwest. The fort placed on the front with the center dormer containing two windows and the others having just one window. The rear dormers were centered over the wing roof ridges and contained single windows. About 1920-21, the verandas were enclosed with glass, and the veranda on Quarters #2 was extended along the entire east wall. Additional columns were added, increasing the number to six on the front verandas. Small, triangular windows, centered high on the gables on both ends of the building, were also added.

† Greg Hranac & Glen Lindeman, Historic Preservation Specialists, office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Fort Walla Walla Historic District, 1974, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Dalles Military Road • Northeast Myra Road