Millwood is a tiny little town in the heart of Spokane Valley that seems to be a little less impacted by the pace of the 21st century than other places. If Argonne Rd didn't cut right through the middle of town, many of us wouldn't even know it was there. You may have paused briefly in Millwood on your way to some other 21st century destination because you had to wait for a train. 55-75 trains pass through Millwood every day.
The Spokane River even slows down when it goes through Millwood. The same river that flows through Riverfront Park and seems to be in such a hurry to get to the ocean but it relaxes and enjoys the journey as it meanders along the tree lined banks of Millwood.
Millwood is only 463 acres which is less than 3/4 of a square mile. It is bordered by the Spokane River on the north and Trent on the south, it extends east to Butler Rd and west to Vista.
The population of Millwood is 1,786 with a median age of 40. There are 783 homes; 550 owner occupied, 201 rentals and 42 vacant.
In the early 20th century, Millwood was known as Woodard Station. Woodard Station was a sleepy little community on either side of the railroad tracks named after the original family that owned the land. The railroad was the Great Northern Railway that laid their transcontinental tracks there in 1883. After a handful of merges, the Great Northern has become BNSF today.
In 1910 the Inland Empire Paper Company built a paper mill along the banks of the Spokane River. It was the first paper mill in the region and has been in continuous operation until now. The plant was built by a paper mogul from Wisconsin. Most of the early workers employed at the mill were from the Midwest and relocated with their families to the area.
The mill encouraged their employees to live close to the paper mill so a company town soon emerged. Like other company towns, life revolved around the mill but unlike most, it was close enough to other communities that it was not isolated. The paper mill supported the community in many ways. They supported the Presbyterian Church and the local schools, they even built the town a baseball field.
The Inland Empire Paper Company wanted to rename the new community Milltown. There was some opposition to this so a compromise was reached with the name of Millwood; incorporating Milltown and Woodard Station. Millwood was incorporated in 1928 and the first mayor was Mr. W.A. Brazeau, the president of the paper mill.
Today you will still hear the familiar whistle blasts at seven-o-clock, noon, 1:45, and 3:45 every day from the Inland Empire Paper Company Mill, though the mill actually operates 24 hours a day Seven days a week.
The mill produces 390 tons of pulp each day but today much of the paper is made from recycled newspapers and other recycled paper products from around the area. The papers products will contain anywhere from 10-60% recycled material depending on the paper quality that is required.
Today the Inland Empire Paper Company operates as a subsidiary of Cowles Publishing Company. It has annual revenue of $66.9 million and employs approximately 140 people. The 150,000 sq. ft. facility in Millwood is their only plant but they also own forest land throughout the region.
In the 1960s and 70s Millwood commerce slowed down a bit and commercial buildings were vacant. The 1990s came and Millwood started to regain its former glory. Today businesses in the Millwood area are doing well.
Along Argonne in the older downtown area you will find a Rocket Bakery, Argonne Cycles, The Old Mill Bar, a golf shop, a hair salon as well as a few boutique stores. On Trent you will find a Albertson's, a North 40 and a Walgreens. Millwood also hosts a handful of the larger name pizza, fast food and convenience store franchises.
As a small town Millwood is able to provide most of the services that you might expect. They provide sewer, water, and street maintenance. There is a city hall with a planning and building department as well as a large park.
Fire protection is provided by the Spokane Valley Fire Department and police protection is provided by the Spokane County Sheriff. There is a Spokane Public Library branch just a few blocks north of the river on Argonne Rd.
Written by:Todd Hays