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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Talks began on what would become the Grand Coulee Dam, and a lawyer almost choked (literally) in the courtroom

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 26, 2021

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

An audacious idea – a dam at Grand Coulee – made one of its first appearances in the news.

The Columbia Basin Survey Commission asked for an appropriation to drill into the bed of the Columbia River at Grand Coulee to ascertain whether it would make a suitable dam site.

The commission was pondering the idea of a dam there for irrigation purposes. The proposed dam could irrigate 1.4 million acres, according to early estimates (a figure that would later prove to be too high). Power generation was not mentioned.

The backers of the plan emphasized that they were still in the early stages. They were asking for between $50,000 and $75,000 for exploratory work only.

Few dreamed that this idea would someday change the face of the Northwest.

From the courtroom beat: Attorney C.W. Bushnell, formerly of Spokane, was in the midst of making a legal argument in the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser, Washington, when he suddenly stopped short and “wildly clutched his throat.”

He was unable to speak and appeared to be choking to death. He made signs indicating that someone should pound him on the back. Several volunteers jumped forward and “dealt him vigorous blows.”

Finally, the offending item popped out of his mouth: a set of choppers.

He had swallowed his false teeth.

After reinstalling his teeth and taking a drink of water, Bushnell continued with his argument.

On this day

(From Associated Press)

1756: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria.

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