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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Residents wanted to believe the city was ripe for oil-drilling, but a skeptic countered their excitement

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

Was Spokane poised to become a rich oil-drilling region?

Or was the current oil fever nothing but a fraud?

A raucous crowd of more than 700 people gathered to hear a debate between two oil men.

On one hand was Aaron Hover, who declared that Spokane was sitting on vast oil deposits. On the other hand was H.C. Harris, who said it was all a fake.

The crowd “leaned strongly to oil,” and they applauded loudly when Hover told them exactly what they wanted to hear.

But the Spokane Daily Chronicle said that Harris scored the most points. He declared that laboratories had determined that the traces of oil supposedly found on the South Hill were actually a combination of kerosene and linseed oil. He said the oil was a “plant,” and called it “grocery store oil.”

He also alleged that Hover was unwilling to put any of his own money into the Spokane drilling operations.

Hover admitted that he had “gone broke” in Montana, and had no money to put in.

From the transit beat: The Spokane Traction Co., one of two streetcar companies in Spokane, gave a strong hint that it might be agreeable to consolidating its lines with The Washington Water Power Co.

The Spokane Traction Co. was arranging to transfer its holdings to a new holding company, which would enable a consolidation to take place more quickly.

Many in the city welcomed such a consolidation. Both streetcar companies were struggling, and consolidation appeared to be the most obvious way to improve the situation.

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