History of Cheney Washington


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Bird’s eye view of Cheney, Wash. Ter., county seat of Spokane County, 1884

Today The city of Cheney is located roughly 20 minutes by car from Spokane, in a nice quaint area just off road I-90. Today, Cheney is home to many local residents as well as an estimate 13,543 student population that flocks here for a higher education. However, modern day Cheney has not always been this way. The history of Cheney as a wonderful story that is intriguing as well as mind opening.

According to HistoryLinks.org, Cheney was first settled in 1878 However, back then Cheney was known as “Willow Springs and would soon later be changed to Section 13. Today residents, as well as students that live on and around 1st street, know, that trains are an enormous part of the city of Cheney. The idea has not changed much since the 1880’s was a railroad town. Cheney at the time was going by the section 13. This was due to the “lines on a survey map”.  Section 13 was a “key stop on a survey map of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Soon after, land speculators started buying up land for the creation of the railroad, the townships started to bloom with a new influx of people. This gave way to Cheney “managing to wrest the title of the Spokane County seat away from the more established town of Spokane Falls.” Cheney was no always the little brother to Spokane. During this time the county seat was “chosen by popular vote”. This was not a great thing for Spokane.  During the time of the railroad boom, Cheney particularly bigger than Spokane falls, particularly bigger than Spokane’s 1000 residents. As a result, this leads to a to the vote in November of 1880 which resulted in several “recounts” of the popular vote. In the end, “Cheney men and a judge and deputy sheriff,” then went into town in the early morning hour of March 21, 1881, and declared the Cheney to be the winner of the vote and then was whipped away until the “they were confident that the county seat was truly theirs.”

Regardless of Cheney boarders, Cheney has also been known to be the birthplace of Eastern Washington University. According to another Historylinks.org article, called “Eastern Washington University,” Eastern University, use to be the “Benjamin P. Cheney Academy.” The Academy, in the article called “125 Events That Shaped Eastern Washington University,”  says that Benjamin P Cheney, donated 10,000 dollars to the opening of the Academy, and in April of 1882, the Academy opened. Later, The Academy was eventually turned into a “State Normal School, a teacher’s college in Cheney.” The State school opened up in “October 13, 1890, with only 16 pupils”.

As Cheney history, has unrolled we find out that Cheney isn’t exactly what it seems. Between the vote dispute as well as the Normal School main building burned to the ground and destroying all school records and library plus teaching materials in the building. There is a lot more than what meets the eye. Cheney history has made it what it is today. Cheney is a still thriving school with the most wonderful professors. I think it would be some Benjamin P Cheney would still be proud of today


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