About This Place
Colfax is the county seat of Whitman County, Washington, United States. The population was 2,805 at the 2010 census. It is situated amidst wheat-covered hills in a valley at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Palouse River. U.S. Route 195, which forms the town's main street, intersects with State Route 26 at the north end of town; in the past, Colfax also lay at the junction of three railway lines. It was named after Schuyler Colfax, the vice president from 1869-73.
Palouse Indians were the first known human inhabitants of the Colfax area. White settlers arrived in the summer of 1870, and soon built a sawmill. A flour mill and other businesses followed, and Colfax soon grew into a prosperous town. Originally, pioneer citizen James Perkin called the settlement "Belleville" in honor of his girlfriend; when he found a new love, he changed the town's name to Colfax for then-Vice President Schuyler Colfax.
Colfax was officially incorporated on November 29, 1873. In 1889-90, the town vied with several other finalists to become the site of a new state agricultural college, present-day Washington State University. The honor ultimately fell to nearby Pullman, 15 miles (24 km) southeast.