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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: Camp Lewis becomes a city of 23,000 as troops train for war

From The Spokesman-Review archive, Sept. 27, 1917 (S-R archive)
From The Spokesman-Review archive, Sept. 27, 1917 (S-R archive)

Spokane correspondent Wilbur W. Hindley described the incredible scale of Camp Lewis, the army training base near Tacoma, which had suddenly mushroomed to a city of 23,000 trainees, including thousands from Spokane.

“Much of Camp Lewis has been hewn literally out of the forests,” said Hindley. “On either side, giant trees are felled, cut into logs and sawn into lumber on the grounds.”

He said it was impossible escape the pungent odors of “burning fir boughs, blended with the aroma of pipes, cigarettes, mothballs and beef stew.”

He said that approximately 1,500 buildings — barracks, warehouses, and headquarters — had been built in the space of just a few months, and plans called for 250 more.

In addition to the pervasive smells, the camp was full of raucous noise.

“A squad of embryo buglers was out this afternoon under the trees, and the era of frightfulness has begun at Camp Lewis,” wrote Hindley. “Fortunately, practice is not permitted during the hours set apart for sleep, but the trumpeters with their brazen atrocities will soon develop the necessary lip and even up the score by sending their fellows to bed with taps and routing them out at 6 in the morning with the reveille.”

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