Then and Now

Spokane street cars

Horses pulled the first Spokane streetcars, then steam engines and cables buried in the road propelled the cars. WIthin a few years of the streetcars’ debut, all were powered by electricity.


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Image One Photo Archive The Spokesman-Review Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

Horses pulled the first Spokane streetcars, then steam engines and cables buried in the road propelled the cars. WIthin a few years of the streetcars’ debut, all were powered by electricity.
The Spokane Street Railway began horse-drawn service in April of 1888. For a nickel a ride, people got from outlying neighborhoods to downtown workplaces and shopping areas. The Spokane and Montrose Motor Railroad was one of several companies that quickly followed. Most routes were laid out and sponsored by developers who wanted to sell lots in new neighborhoods. Francis Cook, born in 1851 in Marietta, Ohio, had moved to Spokane after running newspapers in the Tacoma area and serving in the Washington Territorial Legislature. The businessman started the Spokan Falls Times and purchased 700 acres on the South Hill. He built the narrow-gauge rail line for his Montrose Park Addition. His wood-powered steam engine could push two twenty-person cars slowly up the hill and stop at Montrose Park, which later evolved into Manito Park. But the Panic of 1893 wiped out Cook, who lost most of the land, the railroad and his own home. He moved his wife Laura, who bore him eleven children, to other land he owned in the Wandermere area, where he developed land and built the first road up Mount Spokane, which was eventually opened to the public. While the other streetcar companies were consolidated under Washington Water Power ownership, the Spokane and Montrose remained independent and was later owned by Jay. P Graves, who also invested in intercity electric trains to Coeur d’Alene, Moscow and Colfax, some of which were active as late as 1949. Cook died in 1920.


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