Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cemetery Properties in Spokane

By Kris Krell

Cemetery Properties in Spokane

Funerals are a part of everyday life for adults.  Our family members and friends die; we attend funerals.  In our genealogy work, we use Find a Grave to acquire pictures of the graves for our ancestors and sometimes obtain more information about birth and death dates, place of death, and so on.  We also use the Social Security Index to confirm death and birth dates for ancestors.  

Funerary (all things related to funerals or commemoration of the dead) customs are about the combination of beliefs and practices used by a society to remember and respect the dead in their honor. This funerary industry—a lucrative enterprise--is due to society believing that honoring the deceased was/is of greatest importance.  

Here’s a brief history of funerary properties throughout history and in Spokane:

The Puritans, in the 1600s, believed in in-ground burials in land that was a common community burial grounds.  This was the opposite of the popular and accepted European custom of burying the dead in churchyards.  This new Puritan burial practice was called the Rural Cemetery Movement.  This  movement was also further inspired in the 1800s by the romantic perceptions of nature, art, national identity, and melancholy theme of death.  Rural cemeteries in America were usually built on elevated view sites of the city outskirts.

When in-ground burials became more popular, Civil War reformers spoke out about their health and land issues.  They believed that land should be conserved, so they wanted to revive the practice of cremation.  Cremation movement was popular at the turn of the century, especially on the west coast. 

The next movement in the 20thcentury, was the perpetual-care lawn cemeteries and memorial parks.  Monuments and headstones became less popular in favor of vast lawns using the natural beauty of the area and open green spaces, horizontally flat grave markers that made maintenance easy.  Memorial parks were managed and designed by full-time professionals; whereas 19thcentury cemeteries were generally operated by voluntary associations which sold individual plots to be marked and maintained by private owners. With the memorial park, the plan was that every plot and grave received perpetual care.

As cemeteries evolved, the funeral home and casket businesses came into being.  With these new businesses in the late 1800s and 1900s, an undertaker prepared bodies for burial or cremation in a funeral home, funeral parlor, or mortuary.  Prior to this, bodies were prepared for burial by the family or a professional undertaker, and the burial took place within a few days of death.  

In Spokane, the following cemeteries (funerary properties) were designed and built in the perpetual-care lawn cemeteries and memorial parksmovement:

Greenwood Memorial Terrace         Built in 1888 on Government Way
Fairmount Memorial Park               Built in 1888 on W. Wellesley Ave.
Riverside Memorial Park                 Built in 1914 on Government Way
Holy Cross Cemetery                      Built in 1933 on N Wall Street
Spokane Memorial Gardens            Built in 1954 S Cheney-Spokane Road

Greenwood Cemetery (now Greenwood Memorial Park) was planned and funded by Anthony Cannon one of Spokane’s most celebrated early pioneers and other Spokane businesses. Greenwood allocated a portion of its cemetery for Jewish burials—the first and only cemetery in Spokane to do so.

Fairmount Cemetery (now Fairmount Memorial Park) was built by a priest, the Reverend J M Cataldo, S.J.  He developed the cemetery for $10,000, and it was built as a Roman Catholic Church.

Riverside Park Cemetery (now Riverside Memorial Park) across from Greenwood Cemetery was developed by Spokane mining millionaire, John A Finch and other wealthy Spokane businessmen in 1907, but not built until 1914.

Holy Cross Cemetery was developed as another Roman Catholic cemetery.

The first notice in Spokane that professionals were readying bodies for burial was listed in the 1888 City Directory; two undertakers were listed and located on Sprague Avenue  in downtown Spokane.  In 1889, Bicksler & Webster Co. located on W Riverside Avenue, advertised their business, 

”Everything requisite for first-class funerals at the shortest notice. 
 All calls attended immediately, day or night. Embalming a 

The next year, three undertakers were listed in city directories.  They were: Morrison Brothers on Riverside, 
Smith & Luce on Sprague, and 
Spokane Undertakers on Riverside.  

By 1892, Smith & Luce advertised themselves as “undertakers, embalmers, and florists.” 

By 1902, Spokane city directories listed seven funerary establishments in classified ads under “cemeteries,” “funeral directors,” “undertakers,” and “coffin makers.”

By 1912, Spokane’s population had grown to 100,000.  This was the year that buildings were specifically built as funeral homers.  Architectural styles were distinctive, high aesthetic interiors and exteriors.  

The rural cemetery trend also allowed for the casket manufacturing industry.  By the end of the 20thcentury, caskets were no longer functional pine boxes but extravagant caskets whose interiors were upholstered, and made of wood such as mahogany, rosewood, or steel.  

In Spokane, the first advertisement for a casket-manufacturing business was 1896—The Spokane Coffin Factory on Post Street.  In 1905, the Inland Casket Company factory came in direct friendly competition with The Spokane Coffin Factory (renamed in 1903 to Spoken Casket Company.)  By 1978, both companies closed their doors due to being unable to compete with the Eastern United States mega-national casket manufacturers.  

Sources: Donna Potter Phillips, Spokane Register of Historic Places

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gingko Petrified Forest

By Kris Krell

Gingko Petrified Forest

Thirty four years ago, my then nine year old nephew along with his mom (my sister, Karen, three years older than me) and his dad, Fred, came for a visit.  They had been to Spokane before, but on this visit, Matt was old enough to help mom and dad plan the visit across Washington State; they planned to go to Seattle after visiting us.   
Matt had studied up on Washington State, and he was excited to tell us all about the state symbols, including the bird, the flag, the flower, and more.  This put us adults to shame since I couldn’t recite any of those facts, and I still don’t know any except for the flag.   
He was very excited to stop at the Gingko Petrified Forest on the way to Seattle.  I hadn’t heard of this forest, and to this day, I have never stopped in.  Every time Thom and I drive to Seattle, I see the sign for Gingko Petrified Forest, and I remember 9 year old Matt. I think 2019 will be the year for me to finally see the Gingko Petrified Forest!
The Gingko Petrified Forest State Park is also a registered National Natural Landmark.  The petrified trees were found in 1932.  Fifteen million years ago, these Gingko and sequoia trees were thriving, living trees. The now arid desert of Central and Eastern Washington, the Gingko Petrified Forest Interpretive Center informs visitors, was once a wet area dominated by swamps, shallow lakes and forests. The area, during the Miocene Period, was like a jungle!  The volcanic action in Southeastern Washington brought lava floods across the landscape.  From that action, the waterlogged trees became petrified.  Wikipedia also states that there are more than 50 varieties of trees—not just gingko and sequoia.
 According to the park’s website, the petrified tree remains are considered one of the most diverse fossil forests in North America.  There are some rare specimens of the Gingko trees in the “forest”.  If you visit the park, visit the Interpretive Center that has more than 30 varieties of petrified wood as well as a piece of ancient gum tree.  From the Interpretive Center, you can also view the Columbia River, Sentinel Gap and surrounding Ice Age flood-carved basalt.  Behind the Interpretive Center are also many petroglyphs carved in the basalt rocks from the Wanapum tribe of Indians that lived in the area.
In1927, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a “trailside museum.”  Walk along the Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail, a one-mile loop, two miles west of the Interpretive Center, and see more than 20 petrified logs in their original settings.  Also notice an exposed section of prehistoric Lake Vantage.  You will also find ice-rafted erratic rocks (rocks that were moved within glaciers) left from the Ice Age flood waters thousands of years ago.  Also, enjoy seeing golden eagles, sage thrashers, Say’s phoebes and many others.  Be sure to drive to the overlook to view more petrified trees.
When I started researching for this post, I looked up the Washington State Symbols—the Washington State gem is petrified wood!  Believe it or not, Washington State has 21 state symbols.
Sources:  Petrified Forest website, Washington State Legislature, Seattle Times article, Hard facts on Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, September 7, 2008, iceagefloods.blogspot, November 2013, Wikipedia.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Irish & Scots-Irish Research Seminar

Get registered today!!
Irish & Scots-Irish Research Seminar
March 20, 2019 1:00-8:30 pm 
1916 N. Lakewood Dr (Lake City Center) Coeur d' Alene, ID
Send registrations to Todd Neel or contact him at

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Second Largest Lock in the World!

By Kris Krell

The Second Largest Navigational Lock in the World!  

I had a couple of ideas for the blog post today, but I wanted something more!  My ideas just weren’t grabbing me as what I wanted to write about.  

So I was googling around, and found this statement in a city brochure:  Ice Harbor Dam is the second largest navigational lock in the world.”  Wow!  Could this be?  How interesting that the Tri-Cities area would have such a large interesting place!  

So here's what I found out:

Ice Harbor Lock & Dam was named for an ice-free cove on the Snake River just upriver from where the dam is located today.  Steamboat captains used this cove as a shelter to wait out the winter so that ice dams wouldn’t damage the boat. The cove was about 10 miles from the junction of the Snake River and the Columbia River.  

Two Lewis and Clark Expedition journal entries, according to the Ice Harbor Dam Visitor’s Center, dated October 13, 1805, and October 15, 1805, mention how late in the season they were sailing, how bad the rapids were, and how turbulent the waters were as they arrived at what is now present day Tri-Cities area.

In 1945, Congress authorized four dams the be built on the lower Snake River; Ice Harbor Dam was one of the four.  The Dam is part of the Columbia River Basin system of dams.  Building began in 1956 and was opened and dedicated by Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson on May 9, 1962.  The dam provides hydropower generation, recreation, irrigation, and improved habitat for fish and wildlife.  

The Dam includes a powerhouse, the navigation lock, two fish ladders, a removable spillway weir (This is a horizontal barrier across the width of the river allowing water to flow freely over the top of the weir before spilling down to a lower level.), and a juvenile fish bypass facility.   It is located upstream from the McNary Lock and Dam and Lake Wallula.  Ice Harbor Dam is 2,822 feet long and 100 feet high.  It is a concrete gravity-type dam (A dam constructed of concrete and/or masonary, that relies on its own weight and internal strength for stability. There are sub-types as well) with an earthfil  embankment section at the north end.  The navigation lock is 86 feet by 675 feet.  The 10-bay spillway is 590 feet long and includes ten 50 foot tainter gates (Tainter gates are the normal metal doors that are on all dams that regulate water flow through the dam.  They are named after Wisconsin structural engineer Jeremiah Burnham Tainter.)  A lock is a system used for raising and lowering boats, ships and other watercraft between waters of different levels on rivers and canal waterways.

When the dam was completed, Lake Sacajawea was born and the safe-harbor cove was covered over.  Lake Sacajawea was named after the Shoshone Indian woman who travelled with the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the easiest route to the Pacific Ocean. 
On Lake Sacajawea, one can enjoy fun and relaxation!  Popular activities are:  hiking, boating, camping, swimming, water skiing, hunting, fishing.  Full-service campgrounds and picnic areas and remote undeveloped beaches are available. You can also watch migrating fish or watch boats move through the lock.  

In 2012, the lock was closed temporarily due to a persistent popping noise in the lock’s machinery.  It was determined that was no cause for alarm; the popping noise was caused by a slight movement in machinery components  and was fixed.

Now, as for the second largest navigation lock in the world being in Tri-Cities?  To complete my research due diligence, I googled, “what is the largest navigational lock in the world.”  According to, the world’s largest lock is Kieldrecht Lock in Antwerp Belgium, and it opened in 2016.  The second largest is Berendrecht Lock  also in Antwerp.  Both of these locks are 1,600 feet long and 223 feet high.  

So, Tri-Cities may no longer have one of the largest lock’s in the world, but it appears to me that Ice Harbor Dam and Lock  is a “go to place”for some fun, relaxation, and to gaze in awe at a very large dam and lock in our local area!  

Sources:  Wikipedia,, US Army Corp of Engineers,, Tri-City Herald newspaper article, Mystery Solved.  Ice Harbor Dam’s lock reopens to boats, March 25, 2017, and