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Then and Now photos: Hazelwood Farms

Mon., Feb. 4, 2013

West Plains dairy was subdivided, sold off in early 20th century

Spokane’s Hazelwood Farms was a leading Northwest dairy business when its founders, David and George Brown and John L. Smith, decided to subdivide and sell off their land holdings on Spokane’s West Plains in 1906. Harry Neely and C.F. Young, of Neely & Young, well-known for selling large tracts of Opportunity and Greenacres, handled the business. To make the land arable, more than $150,000 was spent to pump millions of gallons of water from Silver Lake through 36-inch wooden pipe and ditches. Buyers could purchase land in five- to 100-acre parcels. Smith said he “expects to transform this wheat land into some of the most profitable alfalfa fields and apple orchards in the west.” Advertisements were placed in Chicago newspapers to entice city folks who yearned for their own spread out west. A 1908 news report said 1,500 out of 2,500 irrigated acres had been sold and that orchards would be planted soon. Some buyers said the claims were too good to be true. Chicago resident George Mezger exacted the promise that Hazelwood Farms would plant and maintain an orchard on the property for five years when he bought five acres, sight unseen, in 1909. When Mezger arrived in 1914, the trees were sickly and the home site was a low spot that flooded yearly. The Mezgers demanded their money back, but lost in court. The Hazelwood Farms land is roughly bounded by Hayford Road, Highway 2 and West Medical Lake Road. Some of the land is in the city of Airway Heights, which incorporated in 1955, and under Fairchild Air Force Base, which was established in 1942. – Jesse Tinsley

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