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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

Wed., Sept. 15, 2010

From our archives, 75 years ago

Streetcars clanged down Riverside Avenue for the last time in 1935.

Spokane United Railways was quickly replacing its fleet of streetcars with buses. So when the Lidgerwood “owl car” (late night streetcar) rolled down Riverside at Howard Street early in the morning of Sept. 15, 1935, it marked the end of an era.

Streetcars had rumbled down Riverside every day since 1888 – with the only possible exception being the day after the Great Fire of 1889. Yet on Sept. 15, the East Sprague, East Fifth and Lidgerwood streetcar routes all converted to buses.

Buses were considered more modern and more versatile, since they did not require a track or overhead electric wires.

It would take another year before all streetcars were entirely phased out in Spokane. But with the conversion of those three routes, The Spokesman-Review estimated that “73 percent of the patrons of the United Railways will ride on rubber instead of rails.”

From the Depression beat: In four months, more than $2 million was expended – mostly in paychecks – in the 44 Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the mountains and forests that made up the CCC’s Fort Wright district, headquartered in Spokane.

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