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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago today: WWP and city at loggerheads over streetcars

The Sept. 14, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle.  (S-R archives)
The Sept. 14, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Armed police officers confronted a Washington Water Power Co. crew and forced workers to stop tearing out tracks on the North Division streetcar line.

This was a further escalation in the nasty dispute between the city and Spokane’s streetcar companies.

WWP crews were tearing out the tracks after the company said it could no longer operate the line profitably because the city was licensing jitneys (private vans and buses) to run on the same routes.

Police intervened after the city declared that WWP had no permit for the wrecking operations. The city commissioners vowed they would go to court to force WWP not only to stop tearing out the tracks, but also to restore streetcar service on the line.

Meanwhile, merchants on the North Division and Lidgerwood streetcar routes were begging both the city and WWP to settle their dispute and get the streetcars running again.

From the murder beat: A witness in the Louis Adams murder trial said he saw Adams and Joe Gracio arguing on the loading dock of a Spokane produce warehouse.

“They were both angry and were talking in loud tones, but were speaking in Italian and I could not understand what it was all about,” said the witness. “ Both men walked out on the platform. They walked along, gesticulating and speaking in angry tones until finally Gracio stopped. Adams walked ahead and then turned and fired.”

The dispute was a long-simmering one, apparently stemming from a time when they were neighbors in one of the Spokane’s Italian neighborhoods.

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