Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A frightening situation was developing on the railroad lines west of Spokane. Heavy snowpack and avalanches were causing trains to be delayed through the Cascades, and in some cases trapped. A Northern Pacific passenger train was hit by a great mass of snow, rock, bushes and ice near Lester. The debris forced the train to stop, causing panicked sleeping-car passengers to “rush from the cars in their night clothes.”

They can’t be blamed for panicking. Three years earlier, an avalanche swept a passenger train into a ravine near Stevens Pass, killing 96 people. 

This time, the train remained on the track and nobody was hurt. After three hours of shoveling, the train was able to continue. However, almost all of the trains heading to Spokane from the west were either slowed to a crawl behind giant snowplows or stopped at various stations until conditions improved. 

Every freight train was at a stop because the railroads’ first priority was to get their passenger trains to safety. Compounding the problem was rising water in rivers, threatening the railroad bridges.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1938: The March of Dimes campaign to fight polio was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who himself had been afflicted with the crippling disease.

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