February 1, 2014 in City

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

By The Spokesman-Review

From our archives, 100 years ago

Mother Nature, said a Sunday feature story, “gave no particular attention to the needs of future railroad builders” in Spokane.

That’s why two railroads – the Oregon-Washington Railway and Navigation Co. and the Milwaukee Road – were spending a stunning $6.7 million “for the purpose of getting into and out of Spokane.”

Both railways had to deal with “gigantic gorges and vast basalt and lava ramparts on either side.” They had gone together to build a new “union” depot at Main Avenue and Stevens Street, and were scheduled to begin using their new tracks by summer of 1914.

The work was on a truly immense scale. They had purchased dynamite “not by the box nor the ton” but by the carload.

“The two roads have been literally shot into Spokane,” the story said.

When the railroads didn’t have to cut through solid rock, they had to venture out “into thin air” by bringing massive amounts of fill, tons of steel girders and huge quantities of concrete. In one spot, west of the Monroe Street Bridge, 1.25 million cubic yards of dirt were being brought in.

A reporter on the scene noted that “small avalanches of boulders” were constantly bounding down the hill, causing him to nervously calculate “what effect 1,000 pounds of seemingly indiscriminate stone will have on various ounces of brain and skull.”

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