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100 years ago in Spokane: Pioneer said to have planted county’s first apple trees dies at 76

The stately peaked roof of the Granite Block is seen on the southwest corner of Stevens Street and Riverside Avenue around 1900. (Photo courtesy of the Spokane Public / COURTESY PHOTO)
The stately peaked roof of the Granite Block is seen on the southwest corner of Stevens Street and Riverside Avenue around 1900. (Photo courtesy of the Spokane Public / COURTESY PHOTO)

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane was mourning the death of James Monaghan, 76, one of the city’s best-loved pioneers.

Monaghan was born in Ireland, immigrated to America at age 17 and came to this region in 1858. He operated a ferry on the Deschutes River near The Dalles and worked on the first steamboats to ply the Columbia.

After that, he operated a ferry on the Spokane River about 21 miles downstream from present-day Spokane. He ran it until 1865, when he built a bridge and sold it to Joseph LaPray. Monaghan is said to have planted the first apple trees in Spokane County.

He went on to establish a trading business in Colville and hold many public offices there. He worked with the U.S. Army in surveying the Columbia River near Bridgeport; one stretch of the river was named Monaghan Rapids.

He operated a post at Fort Spokane, then moved to Spokane in 1886 and was part of the corporation that began building the Spokane Falls & Northern Railway. He made a fortune, but lost it in the Financial Panic of 1893.

He built a second fortune in banking and real estate, helped draft the city’s new charter in 1891 and was chosen city commissioner.

He and his wife, Margaret, had six children, one of whom, John Robert Monaghan, died a hero’s death as a U.S. Navy ensign in Samoa. A statue still stands in Ensign Monaghan’s honor at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue.


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