|Established in 1893 on the Pend Oreille River under the name “Newport,” this town’s river port attracted several settlers to the region. Within no time, “Newport” was a booming community home to a ferry, general store, dry goods store, hotel, numerous saloons, a post office, and a line of the Great Northern Railroad running along the Idaho/Washington border. In its infancy, the railroad depot was housed in a boxcar. Unfortunately, the boxcar burned in 1894, and this event changed the area’s history. Instead of rebuilding a depot on the Idaho border, railroad officials built on the Washington side. Next, railroad employee Charles Talmadge purchased 40 acres of land and platted out a city site adjacent to the Washington depot. Slowly, residents of Newport, Idaho began moving over to the Washington side where more business opportunities and services were becoming available in “new” Newport. As residents crossed over the border, the old town site quickly became a place of chaos. The once thriving area became known as the old part of town and was home to several saloons, houses of ill-repute, and illegal gambling. While the Idaho area became unincorporated, Newport, Washington was thriving.
In 1946, when Idaho’s liquor laws became more stringent, the village of Oldtown was incorporated. Oldtown retained its status as a village for 21 years. In 1967, however, the Idaho Legislature mandated that no villages could technically be part of the state. Thus, Oldtown finally attained official city status. Today, Oldtown has its own mayor and city council, but shares a Chamber of Commerce with its border neighbor, Newport. Together, these two cities with the same history share panoramic views of the surrounding area’s natural beauty.