The older town of Metaline, established in 1859 during the area's gold-rush days, can be glimpsed on the opposite bank of the river, about a mile downstream.
However, there is little or no evidence of Indian settlement along the river to the north of Metaline Falls, due no doubt to the difficulty of navigating its turbulent waters.
The North West Company's David Thompson (1770-1857) explored the Pend Oreille River (which he called the Saleesh) in 1809, hoping to find that the river would join with the mighty Columbia and provide a route to the Pacific Ocean.
He and his party were the first non-Indians known to have set foot in Pend Oreille Valley, and Thompson noted in his journals that the Kalispel Indians were friendly and helpful.
The town of Metaline Falls is located in Pend Oreille County in the far northeastern corner of Washington.
Outcroppings of exposed minerals led early non-Indian arrivals to name the area the "Metalines." The first substantial influx of new settlers did not arrive until gold was discovered in the late 1850s.
Valuable deposits of lead and zinc were later found, but could not be profitably exploited until the railroad reached Metaline Falls in 1910. The economic core of Metaline Falls for much of the twentieth century was the Lehigh Portland Cement Company, sustained by abundant surface deposits of quartz and limestone.In the second quarter of the century the Metaline Mining District became the state's largest supplier of lead and zinc, and during World War II "soldier-miners" were deployed to help extract the metals for the war effort.The region's primary industries -- mining, logging, and especially cement -- declined during the 1970s, and the town evolved into a wilderness gateway and a home to a thriving art community.Two dams on the Pend Oreille River, one at Box Canyon and Boundary Dam at Z Canyon also contribute to the area's economy.Metaline Falls lies on the banks of the Pend Oreille River approximately 83 miles north of Spokane, 13 miles south of the Canadian border, and 15 miles west of the Idaho border.Nestled in a heavily timbered valley of the Selkirk Mountains (a subset of the Rocky Mountain system), the .2-square-mile town sits at 2,100 feet above sea level and 100 feet above the junction of Sullivan Creek to its north and the Pend Oreille River to its west.