Malden was once one of the largest and fastest growing communities in the region. As the headquarters for the Columbia Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, Malden's growth was based upon the success of the railroad. With the exception of some area farmers and ranchers, Malden was relatively unsettled before 1909. That was the year the CM & St. P had a depot and roundhouse constructed to serve as a divisional headquarters.
The area was named Malden, after a railroads executive's hometown in Massachusetts. Shortly after the depot was completed the town of Malden was incorporated, and at only .67 square miles, it is one of the smallest municipal boundaries in the state of Washington. Regardless, Malden experienced tremendous population growth for two decades--going from essentially zero to over 1000 by 1920.A succession of lodging places were constructed including the Malden Hotel and the Empire Hotel. A newspaper, the Malden Register, was founded. At its height Malden had multiple grocery stores, a hardware store, restaurants and saloons. Many of the residents worked at the CM & St. P roundhouse, which in 1909 boasted "the largest turntable in the world."
Malden's boom years proved to be short-lived. The railroad moved its operations out of Malden in the 1920s, and the population began to plummet. By 1930, there remained only 375 residents. In the 1970s, Malden's train depot was demolished and all of the CM & St. P tracks were removed as the defunct company abandoned its lines. In 2010, the population was 203. The stores and hotels and are long since closed, though a local post office remains open.
Today part of the old railroad is now a portion of the John Wayne Trail, a popular destination for mountain bikers and hikers.
As of the census[ of 2010, there were 203 people, 90 households, and 57 families residing in the town. The population density was 303.0 inhabitants per square mile. There were 118 housing units at an average density of 176.1 per square mile (68.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 92.1% White, 2.0% Native American, 1.0% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.
There were 90 households of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.7% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.91.The median age in the town was 50.8 years. 23.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.7% were from 25 to 44; 28.2% were from 45 to 64; and 25.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 50.7% male and 49.3% female.
This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Malden has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.Malden is in the semi-arid virtual desert area of Washington south of Spokane. The summers are long and hot each year well over 100. The nights get cool/cold (which could account for the lower 'average' temperature). The winter months will often drop to the low 10's with a week or two dropping below 0.