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Then and Now: John Deere building

Farming innovator John Deere, born in Vermont in 1804, settled in Illinois and invented a modern plow in 1837 that pulled easily through the prairie soils of the Midwest. After Deere died in 1886, his plows and other implements were being sold in Spokane at Rasher and Kingman, a local wagon and farm implement dealer, in the 1890s.

The John Deere Plow Co. of Kansas City, as it was named in 1889, built a Spokane warehouse that opened in 1910 at 102 W. International Way, near the path of today’s North River Drive.

The building was on Spokane International Railway property on the north bank of the Spokane River. The SI opened a passenger depot nearby in 1906 but moved its train service to Union Station when it opened in 1914.

The SI, built by businessman Daniel Corbin, ran eastward into Idaho and then northward to connect with the Canadian Pacific near Eastport, Idaho. The CP used the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, called the Soo Line, to move freight from Minneapolis to Seattle in competition with the Great Northern, Northern Pacific and others. The SI trains west of Spokane ran on the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific.

Corbin sold the railroad in 1916 to the CP.

In the late 1950s, the SI became part of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Most downtown railroad buildings and tracks were removed for Expo ’74. The Deere company donated their now-empty building to the city, and the 64-year-old, five-story warehouse was used for storage, a staging area for performers and as offices during the fair.

After the fair, the building reverted to the UP, but the city continued to use it. The “Spokane Story,” a history lesson carnival ride, was built there. The ride, installed in the Pavilion, opened in 1978 and closed in 1980.

The old warehouse, now owned by the Union Pacific, was torn down in 1983. Pacific Securities Co. bought a 15-acre parcel from the railroad that included the Deere property around 1990.

Baney Corp. bought 1.3 acres in 1998 and built an Oxford Suites hotel, which opened in 2001.