Then and Now

Spokane Middle Falls

For centuries the falls of Spokane attracted Indians for salmon fishing in May and June. When white settlers began gathering around the falls, creating a settlement at what is now Howard St. and Spokane Falls Blvd., it was for the power of the water, pushing wheels to mill wheat and saw lumber.


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Image One Courtesy of the Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

For centuries the falls of Spokane attracted Indians for salmon fishing in May and June. When white settlers began gathering around the falls, creating a settlement at what is now Howard St. and Spokane Falls Blvd., it was for the power of the water, pushing wheels to mill wheat and saw lumber. Later, generating electricity became the most important function of the falls. Through the 120 years since the above photo was taken, men have drastically changed the bed and banks of the river, blasting channels open and removing boulders and outcroppings that were in the way. Areas were filled in and smaller waterways were channeled into culverts. Manmade control over the river’s course created the foundations for plants like the Spokane Mill Company, a lumber mill took up much of west end of Riverfront Park. Spokane Mill Co. employed 300 men in 1890.


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