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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: Oil-crazy South Hill residents, spurred by geologist, seek lease with city

Some Spokane South Hill residents, spurred by the promises of an optimistic geologist, sought a leasing deal with the city to drill for oil on parkland on this date 100 years ago.  (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Some Spokane residents were still in the grip of oil fever.

They were convinced that a vast “oil basin” lay beneath Spokane’s South Hill, extending west to Garden Springs.

A geologist told them that it was “much like that of the big Texas oil fields.”

For that reason they planned to approach the city’s Park Board and request the lease of a few acres in city park land near Garden Springs. Then they would drill for oil, which they claimed was 1,700 feet below.

They offered a deal to the city. In exchange for the lease, they would give the city 12.5% of all of the oil.

From the arson beat: Six insurance companies refused to pay a dime on the fire policies held by Anna Corbin, widow of D.C. Corbin.

They said that Anna Corbin’s confession – in which she said that she and her caretaker had plotted the fire at her own home in order to split the insurance money – had invalidated all insurance claims.

She and the caretaker were both awaiting trial for arson, and both pleaded not guilty. Yet the insurance companies said it did not matter if the court accepted “a plea of duress” from Anna Corbin. They were not going to pay up in any case.

The insurance adjusters said they had performed an emergency repair on the Corbin home to protect it from the weather, and they would charge Anna Corbin for that as well.