Naming of Kalispell

In 1809, David Thompson, of the Northwest Fur Trading Company, gave the name Kullyspel to the Indians on the shores of Pend Oreille Lake in northern Idaho. He named the lake Kullyspel Lake and called his trading post Kullyspel House. With its various spellings, Kullyspel is one of the oldest names in the Northwest.

When the French-Canadian explorers, trappers, and voyagers came south, they applied the name Pend Oreille to almost everything Thompson had named Kullyspel. Today, the lake Thompson called Kullyspel Lake is named Pend Oreille Lake.

The naming of the town of Kalispell has long been a subject of controversy. Various tales have been told of the naming, but the commonly accepted story is that it was named by C. E. Conrad. Conrad is credited with coining the modern spelling In order to insure the correct pronunciation, he changed the "C" to "K"; Conrad added an "l" at the end of the word to make it more probable that it would be accented on the syllable.

Northwest historians discredit the story that James Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway, named the city of Kalispell.

Kalispell, previously called Ashley, was made the county seat of Flathead County in 1894. The Great Northern Railroad was extended through Flathead County in 1891-92. The main line was built through Kalispell. Later, the main line was routed through Whitefish. Kalispell was then served by a spur from Columbia Falls.

In 1880, there was a small town 5 miles southeast of the present location of Kalispell on the Flathead River. It was called Demersville. Later, the town of Demersville was moved and became the city of Kalispell.