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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: More questions than answers after train riot

 (Spokesman-Review archives)

All 27 men arrested for what was termed a drunken riot on a train were released by Spokane military authorities – all except the Wobbly “leader.”

Eugene Delvoy was the only man still held, and that was because he had allegedly “cursed” the American flag while being held in the Spokane County Jail.

Delvoy was still facing unspecified charges, but the other men were turned loose after Major Clement Wilkins of Fort George Wright said he determined that “none of them appeared to be interested in the proposed agricultural strike which we are trying to avert.” In fact, it was not even clear if most of them were Wobblies. They had been fighting wildfires in Montana.

Major Wilkins said that the county and the Great Northern railroad had declined to prosecute the men for the “disturbance” on the train.

In fact, contradictory stories emerged about what happened on that train between Troy, Mont. and Spokane. Witnesses claimed that a railroad “special agent,” R.C. Courtright, drew a gun on a deputy sheriff from Montana during the melee.

This was an especially sensational charge, since Courtright and the deputy were both riding the train for the same reason: To quell any disturbance by the unruly Wobblies.

Great Northern officials had already confiscated Courtright’s “star.” However, Courtright denied that he had aided the Wobblies, He said he helped dampen the disturbance, just as he was supposed to. The railroad was investigating the incident.