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Cheney, Washington

If you are not from the area, chances are you have not heard a thing about Spokane, let alone Cheney. Until I decided to write this post, I had never heard any history about Cheney-and I wouldn't be surprised if none of you had either.

Lucky for us, The City of Cheney’s website has put together a short history of the city. So I put together a list of fun facts about Cheney!

  • Cheney was settled in the 1860’s and early 1870’s well after the last Indian uprising in 1858.
  • Cheney had a bunch of names before it was called Cheney. It was called, in this order:
    • Section 13
    • Willow Springs
    • Depot Springs
    • Billings
    • before it was finally called Cheney.
  • The first settlers lived near a group of springs bubbling through a willow copse, hence one of Cheney’s original names, Willow Springs.
  • Cheney was named after Benjamin P. Cheney who was a Director of the Northern Pacific Railroad. He only visited the city once in 1883.
  • Benjamin P. Cheney donated $10,000 to establish Benjamin P. Cheney Academy.
  • Benjamin P. Cheney Academy eventually became Eastern Washington State College, which then became Eastern Washington University.
  • Cheney was founded, and in many ways maintained, by the railroad.
  • There was some controversy over where the Spokane County seat was to be placed. The main contenders were Cheney and Spokane Falls. When Cheney lost, they cried foul and asked for a recount. When they were denied one, they sneaked into the Auditor’s office while Spokane Falls Residents were at a gala wedding celebration to steal the ballots and recount. This was called the “Grand Steal” and was used to contest the seat in court. Cheney kept the seat until 1886 when Spokane Falls grew at a more rapid rate and regained the seat.
  • Every year Cheney hosts a Rodeo in July where cowboys compete for a share of $40,000 in prize money


Cheney is a great city, full of history and a character all of its own.