December 5, 2011 in City

Then and Now photos: The Clocktower

Former railroad depot fixture stands as monument to bygone era

March 18, 1930: The Great Northern Railroad depot Clocktower stands guard over the rail yard.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The iconic Riverfront Park Clocktower was completed in 1902 as the centerpiece of the Great Northern Railroad depot. For decades it cast its shadow over Spokanites rushing to board trains, and it watched thousands of freight cars rumble past. But by the early 1970s, as songwriter Steve Goodman was singing about “the disappearing railroad blues,” plans were made to demolish the aging depot and remove the rails to make way for Expo ’74. The elegant tower, which stands 155 feet tall and has a hand-wound, four-sided clock, was spared. Burlington Northern donated the land and the tower, which, according to a brass plaque on its side, “stands as a monument to the railroad industry and its role in the development of Spokane and the Pacific Northwest.”

On the Web: Find more historical photos with present-day comparisons at

Jesse Tinsley

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