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Monday, July 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 Years Ago Today: Railway inspector injured in derailment in Northport; Spokane agrees dynamite Fourth of July

The Fourth of July was going to be saluted in downtown Spokane in spectacular fashion – with dynamite, The Spokesman-Review reported on June, 21, 1919. (Jonathan Brunt / Spokesman-Review archives)
The Fourth of July was going to be saluted in downtown Spokane in spectacular fashion – with dynamite, The Spokesman-Review reported on June, 21, 1919. (Jonathan Brunt / Spokesman-Review archives)

E.H. Lewis, of Spokane, was on a northern driving trip when he arrived at the Northport ferry. The ferry, he discovered, was not operating.

So he improvised. Lewis spied the Great Northern Railway bridge and decided to drive across it. He found some old planks in which he could drive his car up onto the south approach.

He presumably looked both ways to make sure no trains were coming, because he was able, in fact, to drive his bumpy way across the bridge.

However, he failed to remove the planks from the rails.

When the next rail vehicle came down the tracks – a small gasoline “speeder” operated by a railway inspector – it hit the planks, derailed and threw the inspector into the ditch.

The inspector suffered unspecified injuries and the Great Northern filed a complaint against Lewis for trespass. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

From the Fourth beat: The Fourth of July was going to be saluted in downtown Spokane in spectacular fashion – with dynamite.

The Fourth of July celebration committee had purchased $50 worth of dynamite “to be discharged in some safe spot in the downtown section by an expert in the handling of explosives.”

From the hero beat: Several men worked together to save a boy who fell into the Spokane River.

Lawrence Bates, 12, fell into the water from a log between Wall and Post streets. The log was within the boom of the Phoenix mill.

Capt. W.A. Grace, the assistant state fire marshal, dived into the river – 18-feet deep – and pulled the boy to the surface after crawling along the muddy bottom until finding the boy.

Meanwhile, the city’s new health officer, Dr. Ralph Hendricks, happened upon the scene and worked to get water from the boy’s lungs. He and W.D. Sharpneck, a truckman with the city’s fire department, brought the boy back to conscientiousness. The boy was back at home and was able to explain how he had fallen in.

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