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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: Railway Mail Terminal

The facility on Havermale Island prior to Expo '74 was indicative of the push to move mail by rail in the early 20th century, even as would-be thieves targeted trains. 

Then and Now: Tracks to Union Station

Robert E. Strahorn earned his nickname "the sphinx" because unlike other railroad boosters of his day, the man said little of his plans. Strahorn organized the construction of the Union Station, which opened Sept. 14, 1914. 

Then and Now: John Deere building

The location of the downtown John Deere warehouse in Spokane, built in 1910, was tied to the railroads in the city's urban center. The arrival of the World's Fair in 1974 led to the realignment of those railroads, and the John Deere building was used for storage and staging during Expo '74. 

Then and Now: Echo Roller Mill

Samuel G. Havermale, for whom the island in Riverfront Park is named, built the first roller mill in Washington Territory in 1883. It was torn down in 1927 to make way for the railroad.

Then and Now: Transcontinental railroads

Since the 1890s, Spokane was often touted as a hub for four transcontinental railroads, the implication being that it was a good place to do business and ship goods across the U.S. continent.

Then and Now: Union Pacific rail yard

Now the site of the Kendall Yards mixed use development, the area northwest of downtown Spokane and the river was once home to the Union Pacific rail yard. The railroad moved out of the area in 1955, but development of new housing, retail and commercial businesses did not proceed in earnest until after the economic downturn of 2008.

Then and Now: Old City Hall

Built in 1912, Old City Hall was actually the second permanent home for city offices after a building in Riverfront Park was sold to the railroads for $352,000. When it opened, Mayor W.J. Hindley promised that the structure at the corner of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Wall Street would be a temporary home for city offices until a more grand structure could be built. City operations remained headquartered there for another 70 years.

Then and Now: North Coast Limited

In the late 1800s and the early 20th century, railroad entrepreneurs competed to create a seamless system, connecting every region by rail. The biggest challenge was connecting the Northwest to large Midwest cities.

Then and Now: The Milwaukee Road freight office

In 1909, The Milwaukee Road became the third transcontinental railroad to connect through Spokane to Seattle. Expansion of its electric routes in the West cost the railroad company dearly and led to multiple bankruptcies, including its final such filing in 1977.

100 years ago in Spokane: Labor endorses government ownership of railroads

Government control of railroads was popular in some quarters, including Spokane’s Central Labor Council. The government had assumed control of the rail lines for national security reasons during the war, and suspicion about private railroad companies was fairly widespread at the time.

Getting There: The curious case of Benjamin Burr

Critics have skewered the unimaginative name of the University District Gateway Bridge. And let’s be honest, “Centennial Trail” does nothing to describe the 61 miles of paved trail that follows the Spokane River’s path from Nine Mile Falls northwest of Spokane to Coeur d’Alene. Then there’s Ben Burr, that mysterious name that’s attached to a trail, a boulevard and a road, not to mention a very quaint park. But who was Ben Burr?

Then and Now: Union Station

Historian Robert Hyslop, in his book “Spokane Building Blocks,” explains why Spokane’s Union Station, shown under construction in 1913, was called a station and not a depot. There had already been a Union Depot in Spokane serving the OR&N, the Union Pacific and the Great Northern in Spokane’s earliest days. In addition, people thought the word “depot” was old-fashioned and “station” was more stylish.

Then and Now: Washington Street Bridge

Early bridges across the various channels of the Spokane River were made of wood, then steel and, eventually, concrete or stone. And when the Great Northern Railroad depot opened on Havermale Island in 1902, with its iconic Clocktower, access from downtown was only via the Howard Street bridge. So a new steel-supported bridge was hastily built, aligned with Washington Street, that dead-ended at the depot to get passengers to the trains.