Medical Lake: A Hidden Gem for Recreation in Spokane County

Medical Lake, WA is a small town nestled in the heart of Spokane County which holds a rich history and a promising future. At the center of this community stands Mayor Terri Cooper, a dedicated resident who has called Medical Lake home for over 40 years. With a vision to revitalize and restore the town to its former glory as an outdoor recreation hub, Mayor Cooper is working tirelessly to preserve the town’s peace, healing, and natural beauty.

The name Medical Lake derives from the Native American name  “Skookum Limechin Chuch”, meaning “Strong Medicine Water.” In its heyday, the lake was a luxuriously balanced mineral water oasis that provided relief for joint pain and attracted animals seeking its healing properties. Legend has it that when tribes gathered at the lake, they would agree not to fight, as it was considered a place of peace. Even today, Medical Lake remains a symbol of tranquility and natural wonders.

In the past, Medical Lake flourished as a resort town, attracting thousands of visitors from Spokane and neighboring towns. Trolleys transported eager swimmers and recreation seekers, who would rent swimming suits and bask in the recreational opportunities the lake offered. It also became home to significant establishments such as the Eastern State Hospital and Lakeland Village. The presence of the Fairchild Air Force Base further enriches the town’s diversity and brings valuable contributions to the community.

However, the landscape changed in the 1940s and 50s when the minerals were harvested from the lake, transforming it into a freshwater lake. Additionally, the emergence of railroads and freeways brought about further changes to the community. The once vibrant vacation town began to decline.

In 2015,  Medical Lake residents Gerri Johnson, Ben Cabaldo, Jen Bailey, and Terri Cooper came together to turn their dream of revitalizing and restoring Medical Lake into a reality. They formed Re*Imagine Medical Lake, a nonprofit organization aimed at revitalizing the town, promoting economic development, and enhancing recreational opportunities through festivals and community engagement. After seven years, Terri Cooper decided it was time to run for mayor to be able to take their efforts to the next level. 

As part of the rapidly growing West Plains region, Mayor Terri Cooper believes it is vital for Medical Lake to have a voice and actively participate in the conversation. With three lakes and an abundance of trails, Mayor Cooper strives to preserve Medical Lake as a precious oasis within the expanding landscape. Collaborating with Spokane County, the city has invested in initiatives to expand broadband services and used federal funding providing extra aeration to the lake to maintain its health and minimize algae. Grant funding has also been secured to upgrade aging infrastructure, ensuring the protection of the lakes and the well-being of the community.

Under Mayor Cooper’s leadership, the city administration has seen significant changes.

Mayor Terri Cooper

Medical Lake Mayor Terri Cooper

With the goal of hiring smart, community-minded individuals, the mayor has recruited and hired 11 new staff members, including the addition of Sunny Weather as the city administrator. They have revitalized the Parks and Recreation program, employing Glen Horton as the Parks and Recreation Director and implementing numerous park and program improvements.

Mayor Cooper’s journey to the mayoral office is a testament to her dedication to her community. Originally from a banking background, she followed her passion for the law and took on a role in court administration. Her career path took her through various positions, from court administrator to Court Commissioner for Cheney and ultimately, the Mayor of Medical Lake. Mayor Cooper’s advice to others is to dream big and be willing to embrace change to stay sharp and engaged. 

Mayor Cooper gives the following advice: “Be willing to ask yourself the big questions and don’t be afraid to dream big dreams. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Being the mayor of Medical Lake may not be the biggest dream for other people, but for me it was huge. Change at the right time keeps you sharp and engaged. My biggest advice: fall in love with your community, love your family, care about what’s happening around you, and be a part of it.”

As Medical Lake looks forward to the future, exciting events are on the horizon. Founder’s Day, organized by Re*Imagine Medical Lake, is set to take place on June 16 and 17. The festivities include a golf tournament, corn hole games, live music, a barbecue, and a spectacular fireworks display. Saturday’s event will also feature a vibrant parade and a dedicated kids zone hosted by Redemption Church. Adding to the town’s pride, this year’s Lilac Queen, Josephine Ortega, hails from Medical Lake.

Medical Lake, Washington, is a town with a storied past and an optimistic future. With Mayor Terri Cooper at the helm, the community is dedicated to preserving its natural beauty, fostering economic growth, and providing its residents with a high quality of life. As the hidden gem of Spokane County, Medical Lake is poised to shine brightly for years to come.

For more information about upcoming events and the town’s attractions, visit Re*Imagine Medical Lake’s website at