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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: AAA seeks to debunk ‘desert stunt’ of western travel

The American Automobile Association sought to dispel the “myth” of the rugged, lonely western drive, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 12, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The American Automobile Association sought to dispel the “myth” of the rugged, lonely western drive, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 12, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A Western official with the American Automobile Association debunked the notion, prevalent among drivers in the East and Midwest, that driving through the West was lonely and perilous.

“He has in mind his old high school geography, which branded all that country lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast as the Great American Desert,” wrote the AAA official. “Now what are the actual conditions? The tourist can follow any one of the central routes and have a bed to sleep in under a roof every night. He can sit down to a table and eat his three meals a day. He will find gasoline, a garage and automobile supplies at frequent intervals.”

In short, he said, the “desert stunt has been overworked.” He predicted a record amount of transcontinental auto tourism in 1919.

From the booze beat: Authorities discovered a huge cache of whiskey – 260 pints – concealed in a false cabinet in a Great Northern dining car.

Federal officers were tipped off about the secret stash and raided the car when it arrived in Spokane. The dining car conductor, cook and waiter were arrested.

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