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Saturday, July 08, 2017

#2538 - Sportys, Chewelah, WA - 5/25/2014

Sporty's, Chewelah, WA
Sporty's, or the Sportsman Bar & Grill / Tavern, seems to have been here on Main street in Chewelah, Washington since at least the 50s. It shares the street with the Quartzite Brewing Company and the Chrewvino Wine Bar, in what must be a far cry from rollicking lead and silver mining days of the 1890s, when there were “always four or five saloons doing a rushing business on Main Street.” (historylinkAnd one can only wonder what sort of unsanctioned business plans were in operation when the mining business spiked just as state-wide prohibition was going into effect:

'The defining event in Chewelah’s economic history was the magnesite boom beginning in 1916. Magnesite, a mineral related to marble, dolomite, and limestone, was once essential for lining open-hearth furnaces that produced high-grade steel. World War I disrupted European sources, and luckily some rich veins were discovered in the Huckleberry Mountains a few miles west of Chewelah. Several companies began quarrying and processing it. The largest and most successful, the Northwest Magnesite Company, built a large plant just south of Chewelah for “deadburning” or “calcinating” the ore to reduce it for shipment to the steel manufacturers of the East and Midwest.... during World War II, Chewelah was the nation’s largest producer of magnesite.' (ibid

Of course before Europeans started planting their homes, mines and ranches in what was known as "Fool's Prairie" in the 1850s, the area was home to other nations, civilizations eventually refered to as the "Colvilles," "Spokanes," and "Kalispels." It is said to be a Kalispel word that gave the town its current name, "sč̓ewíleʔ" becoming pronounced "chuh-WEE-lah," a word for "watersnake" or "gartersnake" that appears to have been chosen because of the motion of the bubbling water of a nearby spring. Within 50 years or so, most of the previous residents of the area had been relocated to the Spokane or Colville reservations, and today the area is over 93% caucasians.

The city was platted in 1884, the railroad arrived in 1889, and Chewelah was incorporated in 1903. Although the population fell a bit during the middle 20th century, as the magnesite plant closed in 1968, the population never collapsed as it did in many of the small mining and timber communities in the area. Today the population is around 2600, with many families still living on ranching and farming, while others support outdoor activities including golfing, skiing, hiking, and hunting.

Today Sporty's straddles the old and new, the divey and quaint, "Sporty's" and "The Sportsman's Bar & Grill." There is an unusually artsy sign out front and some classic mid-century nature scene murals inside, left only partially obscured by newish knotty pine walls. Old skiis and taxidermy heads share the walls with corporate beer paraphernalia. The menu offers a broad variety of contemporary pub food - steaks and burgers, tacos and salads, etc. It seems fairly popular with the locals and is a good stop for people passing through.

207 E Main St, Chewelah, WA 99109 - (509) 935-6309
Web site: sportyschewelahfacebook
Reviews: link - tripadvisor

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