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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

Old Swan gin, opium dens and Tacoma gas…

The Washington State Library has posted copies of an 1880s Spokane newspaper on its growing "Historical Newspapers Online Project" website.

Three years of issues of the Spokane Falls Review, a four-page Saturday weekly which debuted in 1883, can be viewed along with other territorial newspapers at

Like most newspapers at the time, the Review was a mixture of inflated prose -- flowery stories, long ruminations on Spokane's certain destiny as jewel of the Pacific coast -- and bare-bones (often one-sentence) news dispatches: An alarming increase of opium smoking in New York, fighting between U.S. troops and Apache Indians in northern Mexico, and the seven-word news story "Tacoma is to be lit by gas."

Among the local news given extensive treatment: a well-digger dug up an old 6-pound canonball.

Sandwiched around the news are odd bits of filler: a list of all the countries, descriptions of big gold nuggets, and a history of historians, starting with Herodotus.

"Will Spokane celebrate?" one headline asked. The headline below it: "Well, yes, somewhat."

The frontier-town aspects of early Spokane are obvious in the ads. One shop advertises Old Swan Gin and an inventory of 60,000 cigars. Others tout their horse shoeing skills, wagons for sale, and a Spokane brewery's brand: California Beer. And a furniture-maker's ad ends with the startling picture of a hand waving from inside a coffin.

"Undertaking a specialty," the ad reads.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.