Wednesday, March 6, 2019

By Kris Krell

Spokane’s Elevator Girls: A New Innovation!

When I was a kid in junior high school in the mid 1960s in Sandy, Utah, during summer vacations, my sisters and I (my parents too) read a lot of books and watched a lot of old movies!  My mom, dad, my sisters and I would go the downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, library on a Sunday afternoon and check out lots of books to last for a couple of weeks—at least my mom, dad, sister, Karen, and I did.  My younger sister, Karla, wasn’t much of a reader back then!  Reading time was split with watching old movies during the afternoons.  In the occasional movie, a minor character was an elevator operator.  

Surprisingly, at least to me, was that elevators came to be in 1857!  A New York City department store was the first to install an elevator.  Elisha Graves Otis founded Otis Elevator in 1853. Already in existence were steam and hydraulic elevators.  Otis’ claim to fame, though, was that his elevator could also go up and down like the others, but his elevator would stop and not fall to the ground on the way down! 

Business was slow the first few years—the citizenry wasn’t so sure of the safety of such an invention, so he set up a presentation for the public in New York Crystal Palace, a splendid exhibition hall that had been built for the 1853 World’s Fair.  

In Otis’ presentation, while standing on the raised elevator platform, he cut the only rope suspending that platform. The platform dropped an inch or so, then came to a stop!  His innovative safety brake stopped the platform from crashing to the ground!   His presentation a success, business grew and by 1873, 2,000 elevators were in operation, and the company had expanded to Europe and Russia.  Many commissions for elevators came in--taller buildings were built, businesses and high-rise homes commanded huge prices for the “view”.  Our world—work and personal—lives were changed forever with the creation of the elevator.  

Elevators created the need for operators—using the hand-controlled brake lever required training, skill, and precision to line the elevator car up with the floor the passengers were stepping out onto.  The need for safety was a major concern.  There were once tens of thousands of elevator operators—the majority of them black, according to the John C Abell article noted in the Sources below.  In 1917, an elevator operator union was organized—the first of its kind!

Prior to World War I, elevators in hotels and businesses in Spokane were operated by men or boys.  With the outbreak of WWI, the young men manning the Davenport Hotel elevators were being called to military service;  they weren’t staying on the job long enough to become completely trained in the Davenport’s service ideals.

So, Louis Davenport hired a team of five elevator operators--they were girls!  The newspaper at the time wrote that the elevator girls were the first in the United States to be hired by a hotel.

Louis Davenport said “our experiments have convinced us that young women can not only do this work as well as the boys, but they are better able, as a rule, to assist in creating that home-like atmosphere we are so eager to maintain in all of our departments.” Imagine that!

The female elevators wore uniforms that were reminiscent of British officers’ uniforms—a dark navy blouse with a replica of a Sam Browne belt with shoulder strap.  (According to my review, a Sam Brown belt was a wide leather belt usually worn by British or Canadian military or police uniform. General Sir Sam Browne had lost his left arm in a war so it was difficult for him to draw his sword.  He created the right shoulder strap for his sword. You can still purchase these types of belts online!). Their cap fit snugly to the head and were similar to Belgian army caps.

Davenport also said that “the elevator girls innovation was the beginning of a new wartime plan at the hotel—contemplating recruiting girls in many departments now worked solely by men.” Davenport speculated that 100 more girls would be hired during the war years.

This is my last post for the Spotlight on the Spokane Region Blog.  Thanks for reading!

Sources: Spokesman Review article, 100 years ago in Spokane: With men sent to fight World War I, Davenport Hotel hires first ‘girl elevator operators’ in the U.S., December 20, 2017; article March 23, 1857: Mr Otis Gives You A Lift, John C Abell, March 23, 2010

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Manito Park Zoo

By Kris Krell

Manito Park Zoo

Spring is on the way! The calendar tells me it is!  It’s March 1 on Friday!   I know it’s hard to believe with the weather we have been having.  Normally, our winters are usually over by mid-February—sometimes a small dusting of snow would happen on an early morning in late February or early March, but that bit of snow would be gone within a few hours.  I am ready for this cold, snowy weather to be over, and I’m sure that most of the people in the Spokane area are ready for it to be over too! 

Springtime makes me think about parks!  We walk our two dogs at the many pretty parks in Spokane and the Valley.  We’re ready to get out and walk through our beautiful parks again!

For years, when I’ve driven by Manito Park on Grand Boulevard, I’ve noticed the trough in the parking strip beside the street.  I’ve never stopped to see if the marker gives any facts about why the trough is there, but I’ve searched online for information to no avail.  

Last week, researching for that post, I found the answer!  The concrete trough in the parking strip is the actual horse trough installed in 1907 for the stagecoach horse teams traveling up the Grand Boulevard hill to water their horses! That makes total sense now as I always wondered what is a water trough doing on Grand Boulevard!  Until last week, I didn’t know that stagecoaches had ridden through Spokane!

I thought the only zoo in Spokane was the Walk In The Wild Zoo in the Spokane Valley.  Much to my amazement, I discovered last summer while looking for ideas to write about for the EWGS Blog, that Manito Park also had a zoo!

Montrose Park, 95 acres of land, was donated to the City of Spokane on May 19, 1904.  Montrose Park was renamed to Manito Park.  Manito, according to Manito Park’s brochure,  “A Walking Tour of Manito Park” is a Native American word meaning “a supernatural force that pervades nature.”

The Manito Park Zoo was the main centerpiece of the park from 1905 to 1933—created out of about a third of the donated land or 30 acres. The goal of the zoo was to display animals that were not native to the Spokane area believing that would generate more interest in the zoo.  

Some of the animals on display were:  crow, owl, elk, deer, buffalo, kangaroo, muskrat, beaver, monkeys, coyote, emu, ostrich, pheasant, fox, racoon, bobcat, cougar, pigeons, ducks, a golden eagle, and brown, black, grizzly, and polar bears as well as ducks, geese, and other birds.  Another area near Rose Hill were small cages that kept skunk, coyote, bobcat.   

The rock building that today houses The Park Bench CafĂ©, was the Peanut Shack during the zoo’s time.  Zoo visitors could buy food and drink for themselves as well as peanuts for the monkeys.  

As the news of the Manito Zoo spread, Tacoma, Washington, gave the zoo a mature bull elk—Old Preach.  So that Old Preach wasn’t friendless, a roommate was provided in a young billy goat called Billy. Billy the goat chewed tobacco “like a thresher hand”, and Old Preach picked up the habit.  Old Preach frequently tried to mooch tobacco from visitors.  A pair of grizzly bears came from Yellowstone National Park, Glacier Park provided six elk, three bucks, and three does. Kansas sent four buffalo.  In 1913, the first baby elk was born—his mother was from Yellowstone.  His name was PowWow the First.  In 1916, the first baby buffalo was born.  The polar bears came by way of  a discharged soldier from Tacoma who had brought home with him two baby polar bear cubs.  They soon were too large for him to handle; his parents put them up for sale, and Manito Park bought them for the zoo.

Funny animal antics aside, there were also some devastating incidents between certain animals on several hot summer days over several years. I’ll leave it up to you to look those incidents up if you have an interest.  

Part of the cause of the demise of the zoo was also that the zoo was in a wealthy part of Spokane, the stench and noise of the zoo caused concern among the neighborhood, and sometimes there were animal escapes.

The Zoo struggled for a few years, and in 1933, the decision was made to finally close the zoo.  The major reason was because of the 1929 financial crash and its effect on the Spokane economy that caused financial difficulties with the zoo.  Homes were found for a majority of the animals.  On January 8, 1933, the zoo officially closed.

Sources:  Spokane History Timeline; The Spokesman-Review, Demise of Spokane’s Manito zoo marked by shots of a .30-.30 rifle, June 24, 2018, City of Spokane, Manito Park; Manito Park's brochure, "A Walking Tour of Manito Park

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The History of Transportation Through Spokane

By Kris Krell

History of Transportation Through Spokane

In the early days of Spokane, the only transportation available to the settlers 
were horses, wagons, or foot to travel around the region.

From 1851 to 1864, in the Spokane Valley, a new mode of transportation was available. Antoine Plante, a French- Canadian man and a Hudson Bay Company trapper, built a ferry across the Spokane River just east of where Millwood is today.  The ferry was named Plante’s ferry, was 40 feet long and was pulled across the river by pulleys and cables.  At the time, the ferry was the only way across the river; it transported people, wagons, and animals.  The military were frequent users of the ferry.  The ferry quit  operations when the Spokane Bridge was built in 1866 just upstream from the ferry.

Between 1859 and 1862, the 611 mile trail--Mullan Military Road--was built and was the most important road through Spokane.  The road travelled between Fort Benton in Montana and Fort Walla Wall southwest of Spokane.  The US Government commissioned Captain John Mullan to build the road.  The road crossed the Palouse and nearby scablands, crossed Plante’s Ferry, and into present-day North Idaho.

Wells Fargo and other stagecoach lines were introduced to the Spokane area is 1866. The stagecoaches brought in passengers, as well as mail from the east and the west. One of the main routes was between Spokane Falls to Colfax.  This main route quit running with the arrival of the railroads but most of the shorter routes ran through the 1920s.  

On June 25, 1881, Spokan Falls saw its first train—the Northern Pacific Railroad.  This line travelled over the Rockies from the east and then down to the Columbia River gorge. 

Another line--the Transcontinental Railroad, connected the Eastern United States lines with California.  This line was completed in Montana in 1883.  This railroad line created a nationwide network that transformed the population and the economy of the Western United States.  Spokane Falls saw its first Transcontinental Railroad train in September 1883.  The train made it possible for the region to ship their lumber, grains, goods, and ore to the rest of the country.  

TheNorthern Pacific Railroad (1881), the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co. (1889), and the Great Northern Railway (1892) relied on Spokane’s railroad terminal.

There were also shorter or feeder lines.  These linked with other transcontinental lines. Some connected Spokane to mining towns throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 1887, Daniel Chase Corbin built the Spokane International Railway; this line ran between Spokane and Kingsgate, British Columbia.  The Union Pacific Railroad bought out this line in the 1950s and was renamed the Spokane International Railroad, and is still in business—an important connection between southern British Columbia and the Northwestern States.

The Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway was another railroad line through Spokane. It was built in 1905 by James Jerome Hill, a Canadian, who also built the Great Northern Railroad. Hill was nicknamed, the “Empire Builder.”  This line was a joint venture between the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway.  It ran along the north bank of the Columbia River.  

By 1970, the Northern Pacific Railway merged with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and the Great Northern Railway to become Burlington Northern Railroad.   

Source: Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wikipedia

Friday, February 15, 2019

Eastern Washington genealogocal Society Spring Seminar

Sunny McClellan Morton
Coming to the EWGS Spring Seminar on Saturday April 6. 2019
8441 N Indian Trail Road, Spokane WA. 99208
Doors open 8:00 a.m., Registration at 8:30 a.m., Seminar begins: 9:00 a.m.
Sunny is an internationally known, award winning writer and speaker for the genealogy industry

Finding Historical Records on the Giant Genealogy Websites
Meet PERSI and Discover Treasures in Genealogy Periodicals
Exploring Church Records
Finding your way on

Deadline to register March 20, 2019
Member $35 – Non Member $40 - Pay at the door $40
Box lunch by Christ Kitchen -$12-must be preordered
Or you may bring own lunch

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How the Spokesman-Review Newspaper Began

By Kris Krell  

How the Spokesman-Review Newspaper Began

Do you remember when Spokane had the afternoon newspaper, The Spokane Chronicle (publication ended in 1992), and the morning paper, The Spokesman-Review?  When my mom, dad, sister and I moved to Spokane in the summer of 1969, both papers were in existence.  We subscribed to the Spokesman-Review newspaper.  Until researching today, I didn’t realize back in 1969 that the Chronicle leaned Democratic, and the Spokesman-Review leaned Republican.  

Spokane’s newspapers—The Chronicle and The Spokesman-Review--have a long complicated history and many name changes.  As I researched for this blog post, at times keeping the two newspapers apart was confusing.  To make this post less confusing, this blog post is only about the history of The Spokesman-Review!

In May of 1883, the first edition of the Spokane Falls Review was published.  Frank Dallman, editor, had grown up in a Midwestern newspaper family, had moved to California to run a newspaper, but had thought Spokane would be a good market for a newspaper.  Dallman favored a Republican leaning newspaper; Spokane already had a Democratic leaning paper—The Chronicle had been publishing since 1891.  

Spokane Fall’s city leaders thought that Spokane could support two papers and were happy to endorse a Republican leaning paper.  The population of Spokane Falls in 1883 was around 1,500 residents.  Dallman set up shop, purchased a printing press, and started publication.  By 1887, Dallman had sold out to the two partners that he had acquired over the past four years.

Eventually, two papers could not be support two daily newspapers.  The Review (Chronicle) talked to the Spokesman about consolidating the two newspapers in 1893.  The agreement was made, and four partners changed the name to The Spokane Review.

The financial panic of 1893 in Washington State began in January 1893.  The panic hit Spokane hard, and three of the four partners were devastated financially. In 1894, partner Cowles bought out the other three partners, and he renamed the paper The Spokesman-Review.

Here’s a listing of all the name changes (which doesn’t look too bad in this list, but if The Chronicle’s name changes were also included, it would be a mess—the two papers had very similar names!):

·      May of 1883: publication of the first weekly edition of the Spokane Falls Review,
·      June of 1884: Spokane Falls Review became a daily paper named Spokane Falls Evening Review, 
·      1885: Spokane Falls Evening Review became a morning newspaper named The Morning Review
·      1890: The Morning Review became the Spokesman
·      1893: The Spokesman became The Spokane Review
·      1894: the Spokane Review became The Spokesman-Review

From the publication of the first edition of the Spokane Falls Review to the name change to the Spokesman-Review only eleven years had passed.  1894 circulation was around 4,000; 1900, above 10,000.  

According to Wikipedia, The Spokesman-Review has the third highest readership among daily newspapers in Washington State.  It is also one of the few remaining family-owned newspapers in the United States.

Sources:  The Spokesman-Review, Bumpy beginning, but quite a ride, May 19, 2007, Wikipedia