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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 Years Ago Today: Spokane, academics back alternative to Grand Coulee Dam

The Spokane Daily Chronicle declared in a huge front page headline that Professor O.L. Waller of Washington State College gave his “emphatic condemnation” of the proposed Grand Coulee irrigation project.

Why did the Chronicle make such a big issue of this? Mainly because Waller also “declared himself unequivocally in favor” of a competing plan, the “Pend Oreille gravity system.”

Spokane interests had lined up in favor of the Pend Oreille system, which would take water from the Pend Oreille River and distribute it to the arid Columbia Basin through hundreds of miles of canals and tunnels. The Pend Oreille canals and tunnels would go right through Spokane.

Waller, dean of engineering at Washington State College, declared that the Pend Oreille plan would be cheaper, because it was a gravity system and not a pump system. He also said it would be less dangerous.

“If the (Grand Coulee) pumping plan were adopted … the Columbia River dam would, in the big flood periods, stand as a menace,” the Chronicle said. “Breaking of the dam would pauperize 500,000 people, destroy $500 million in taxable property, kill irrigation in Washington, and probably bankrupt the state, he (Waller) warned.”

From the lawyer beat: A Superior Court judge fined both attorneys for contempt of court when they got in a shouting match during a liquor case.

“Don’t testify yourself, Meyer, let the witness testify,” the defense attorney said. “Don’t you know anything at all?”

The prosecutor rushed toward the defense attorney and yelled , “I am getting tired of your conduct, Groff! I won’t stand it anymore.”

He lowered his head, “appearing about to charge,” before the bailiff stepped between them. Judge Huneke sternly rebuked both men and fined them $10.

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