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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Eastern Washington: ‘Auto bums’ from the ‘gimmie’ club were concerning tourism officials

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

The region’s tourist authorities were worried about a surprising new problem: “Auto bums.”

“Our greatest problem is the automobile ‘bum,’ ” a Walla Walla tourism official said. “He belongs to the ‘gimmie’ club and travels through the Yakima and Walla Walla valleys in the summertime enjoying the free camp sites. He is a detriment and should be discouraged. … As a rule, these automobile bums will start out from Seattle in a $150 secondhand car and will bring their families with them, working here and there. They move back to Seattle in the fall and tell their friends what a fine time they had, which encourages several hundred more to come the next year.”

Tourism officials, gathered at the Davenport Hotel, voted to begin charging 50 cents per night, to make the camps self-supporting and to discourage the long-term “auto bums.”

From the mining beat: L.W. Hutton, Spokane mining magnate, predicted a revival of the region’s slumping mining economy in 1922.

He predicted the area’s lead mines would open back up, probably in the spring. Hutton’s views carried considerable weight, since he was a director of the Hecla and Hercules mines in the Coeur d’Alene mining district.

He said that the Butte mines were scheduled to open in a week, and this “will stimulate other sections of the Pacific Northwest.”

He admitted that 1921 was a year of “heavy losses and difficult times.”

Also on the date

(From Associated Press)

1789: America held its first presidential election as voters chose electors who, a month later, selected George Washington to be the nation’s first chief executive.

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