Latah is a town in Spokane County, Washington, United States. The population was 183 at the 2010 census. Take a look below for 15 awesome and fun facts about Latah, Washington, United States.
1. It was named for the nearby creek, Latah Creek, from the native word for fish.
2. The town was formerly called, Hangman’s Creek and Alpha.
3. Latah Valley saw its first wave of settlers about 1872, which included Richard and Lydia Wimpy family, Hosea and Harriette Harvey family, and Henry and Julia Coplan family.
4. In those days, the settlement took the name of the nearby stream, Hangman’s Creek. The stream received its name from the tragic events of 1858, when Col. George Wright hanged several members of the local native tribes in retaliation for the defeat of Lt. Col. Edward J. Steptoe at the Battle of Pine Creek.
5. The exact jurisdiction seems to have been of question in the beginning, as the first postmaster of “Hangman’s Creek” was Richard H Wimpy, appointed 19 Mar 1873, in Nez Perce County, Idaho.
6. The post office was transferred to Stevens County, Washington Territory, on 5 May 1873, with R. H. Wimpy still the postmaster. That section of Stevens County became Whitman County, and finally Spokane County.
7. Meanwhile, Hangman’s Creek changed to “Alpha” in 25 Apr 1881, under postmaster Emery H. Averill, so named because it was the first settlement in the area. Alpha changed to “Latah”, on 11 Dec 1883, under postmaster David T. Ham, again naming it after the nearby stream, Latah Creek.
8. The Legislature had decided to rename the stream Latah, from the native word “lahtoo,” which means “stream where little fish are caught.”
9. This small farming community gained some fame a few years after the settlers arrived. The eldest sons of Henry Coplan/Copeland had arrived in 1872, followed by the rest of the family in 1873.
10. In May 1876, the Coplan brothers were poking around in a boggy piece of land near the creek when they discovered mammoth fossils, along with a collection of other animal fossils, and evidence of prehistoric human activity.
11. The news attracted visitors and scientist to the area, and inspired another set of brothers, William and Thomas Donahoe, to poke around their property on Pine Creek.
12. The Donahoe brothers found a gargantuan mammoth skull, and other fossils. After extracting a sizable collection, the Coplan brothers, Ben, Alonzo, and Lewis, took their prizes on tour through Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
13. The Donahoe brothers sent theirs on tour to California. After passing through various other hands, the Donahoe collection was acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where it still resides.
14. The Coplan collection eventually came into the possession of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago where it remains.
15. Latah was officially incorporated on April 9, 1892, with Ben Coplan appointed as the first mayor in 1893. Ben’s famous mammoth served as the centerpiece of the Washington Pavilion at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition of 1893.