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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago on the Palouse: 2 farmers electrocuted after power line falls onto telephone wire

Two farmers were electrocuted after wind dropped a high-tension Washington Water Power line onto the phone wires going into several Palouse farmhouses, The Spokesman-Review reported on Sept. 1, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Two farmers were electrocuted after wind dropped a high-tension Washington Water Power line onto the phone wires going into several Palouse farmhouses, The Spokesman-Review reported on Sept. 1, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A windstorm in the Palouse set in motion a series of events that resulted in tragedy for two farmers.

First, wind dropped a high-tension Washington Water Power line onto the phone wires going into several Palouse farmhouses.

The electricity flashed along the phone line into the home of Arthur A. Jack and started several indoor fires, which he was able to extinguish.

Jack then went outside to try to cut the phone line, using a pair of pliers. As soon as he touched the wire, he was “burned to a crisp as high as the elbow” and died instantly.

A neighboring farmer, Hans Korsboen, also had electricity flashing into his house. He went outside and tried to rip the phone wire out by hand, and was immediately electrocuted.

Farmers in other two other houses also received slight shocks when they disconnected their phones after they saw sparks darting from them. The sparks also set another house on fire, but it was extinguished before the house was badly damaged.

A correspondent sadly noted that the incident “is without parallel in this district.”

From the fair beat: The Interstate Fair opened in Spokane, and the midway featured an array of sideshow oddities, including the “lady fish, Hindu marvel, tattooed wonder, three-legged calf and the smallest mother in the world.”

One sideshow barker gave the following spiel: “Come one, come all, yer only chance to see the wonder of the age — Mickey, the strange girl who fears no reptiles, toads, lizards, frogs or mice.”

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