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100 years ago in the Inland Northwest: U.S. Senate gives OK to study Columbia Basin irrigation

On this day 100 years ago, the U.S. Senate agreed by voice vote to study the Columbia Basin irrigation project at a cost of $100,000. There was still debate over where the irrigation water for the project would come from.  (S-R archives)
On this day 100 years ago, the U.S. Senate agreed by voice vote to study the Columbia Basin irrigation project at a cost of $100,000. There was still debate over where the irrigation water for the project would come from. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill appropriating $100,000 for a new survey of the proposed Columbia Basin irrigation project. The House of Representatives was expected to soon follow suit, said U.S. Rep. J. Stanley Webster of Spokane.

This was considered a huge victory for the region, which had been pushing this project for years.

Yet this was by no means a final victory. It allocated money only to investigate and survey the project, not to build it.

In fact, there was still an ongoing dispute about from where these vast amounts of irrigation water would come. On one hand, some were advocating for building a giant dam at the Grand Coulee. Others, including powerful Spokane interests, wanted to bring the water from the Pend Oreille River through a vast series of canals and tunnels.

The Senate appropriation passed on a voice vote with no objections.

From the strike beat: Striking railroad shop workers in Spokane, 1,600 strong, were “growing restive,” reported the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

Three of the four railroads with Spokane shops were filling jobs with nonunion workers. The strikers said they planned to “tighten up the picket lines and launch an aggressive campaign to persuade nonunion workers to quit their posts.”

One nonunion worker said the persuasion was not too subtle. He said he got a phone call from an anonymous union man who told him to quit his job or “we’ll be down there to get you.”

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