100 years ago in Spokane: Janitor chronicles Great Fire of 1889, other city events in diary
Sat., Aug. 13, 2016
From our archives, 100 years ago
J.A. Myers, a janitor at Spokane’s Masonic Temple, kept a diary every day for 32 and a half years – and it was full of personal details and civic history.
“My diary tells me that I landed in Spokane at 6:30 a.m. the morning of February 14, 1885. Here I read, ‘No snow in Spokane Falls at 3 p.m. Taking a view of the falls at 1 p.m. Stopping at California House (an early Spokane hotel). Nice and clear here at Spokane Falls. At Presbyterian Church at night.”
He found work at a flour mill.
Then came his diary entry for Aug. 4, 1889: “Fire broke out at 6:45 p.m. opposite the N.P. depot and burned all of the business part of the city from railroad tracks to river, from Lincoln Street to Washington. Loss in the millions. Saved the mill by hard fighting.”
Then the next day: “The city looked desolate this a.m. … Walked through burned district.”
Then on the day after that: “Through burned district at 4 p.m. People felt in better spirits than they did yesterday and the city will be rebuilt. Loss will reach 6 or 7 millions. At 7 p.m. very smoky through the ruins of the burned district. The property owners will build grander than ever.”
Myers said he kept a diary after meeting a man in Idaho who “for years kept a diary and he was always referring back to it to settle arguments.” The idea, he said, “struck me as a thing worthwhile.”
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