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

100 years ago today in Spokane: Fistfight erupts on train after logger curses flag

A fistfight broke out on a Spokane-bound train after a “husky lumberjack” cursed a would-be recruit’s flag. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The region’s fervent wartime patriotism was illustrated by the following story, which took place in the smoking compartment of a Great Northern passenger train, passing Glacier National Park on the way to Spokane:

A group of Montana cowboys were headed to Spokane to enlist when they were joined by a “husky logger.” They were all engaged in spirited conversation “mostly to deal with riding broncos and logs.”

One of the cowboys pulled some papers from his pocket, including a small American flag. The cowboy said, “My mother gave me this just before I started; isn’t it a beauty?”

The cowboys admired it, but the logger stood up and snarled, “To hell with the American flag.”

The flag owner immediately punched him so hard, the logger hurtled through the glass door of the car and landed bleeding in the aisle.

Some of the cowboys said, “Throw the blankety-blank-blank German spy off the train!”

Others said, “No, bring him in the smoker and we will make him kiss the flag.”

The logger said, “Not on your life,” which prompted another punch to the jaw.

“All right, boys, I’ll do it,” said the logger. The flag was placed before him, and he kissed it.

Except he didn’t take off his hat, and one of the cowboys said, “Take off your hat when you kiss Old Glory.”

The logger replied, “You go to hell,” which prompted another punch to the jaw.

The logger took his hat, kissed the flag again, and hurried off to a distant part of the train.

The logger, “who did not seem to be a foreigner,” prudently left the train at Whitefish, long before his ticketed destination. He was reported to be cut and bruised, but not badly hurt.