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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Man killed by massive slide under railroad track

From our archives,

100 years ago

A 74-year-old man was buried in a massive slide of mud and rocks on Cedar Street, just west of the Monroe Street Bridge.

A huge section of railway fill high above the Spokane River gave way suddenly and roared down the river bank. The body of John Gleason was found the next day after railroad workers spent hours digging through the mud and rubble in the river. He appeared to have died from suffocation.

The tracks of the Oregon-Washington Railway and Navigation line were “left suspended in the air” after the fill collapsed.

Fortunately, a train was not on the tracks at the time of the slide. Passengers on the arriving trains were “relayed to the Union Station in taxicabs” and the Milwaukee Road’s trains were rerouted. Railway officials were improvising a plan to acquire new fill and shore up the tracks.

From the young soldier beat: Two 14-year-old Coeur d’Alene boys, Leon La Fountain and Romania Harolson, decided they wanted to join the Canadian army and fight in the European war. So they decided to make their way over the Canadian border. But first they needed provisions for the trip. They broke into a summer cottage and a hardware store and supplied themselves with “a generous supply of bologna sausages, firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.”

However, local juvenile officials learned of their scheme and alerted border officials. When the two boys reached the border, they were detained and sent back to Coeur d’Alene, probably to face charges on the break-ins.

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