Wednesday, November 28, 2018

By Kris Krell

Spokane’s History With Street Cars aka Trolleys

Did you know that Spokane had numerous trolleys running routes in Spokane in the 1880s?  Did you think public transportation would have been an issue way back then?  Did you know that Spokane had buses in the 1920s?

A Streetcar or Trolley runs on rails but the power comes from onboard electric motors and the trolley pole sticking out of the top of the streetcar attached to power line above. 

Spokane’s trolley era began April 15, 1888, and ended August 31, 1936.  The heyday of Spokane’s trolleys was around 1910 when at least 150 trolley cars clanked down city streets—Washington Water Power’s (WWP) trolley line’s ridership was recorded as 24 million riders in 1910!

Real estate developers were the first to develop trolleys in Spokane.  Developers wanted people to buy houses outside of the downtown area, but the buyers needed to know that they could get to work using public transportation.  This was true for both working-class neighborhoods because everyone could ride a trolley to work, as well as upper-class neighborhoods because their servants, maids, cooks needed to use public transportation to get to work.  

There were several types of trolley all wanting to beat out the other competition:  

·      April 15, 1888 Spokane’s first streetcar by Spokane Street Railway was horse-drawn were the first developed; their route was Riverside Avenue to Brown’s Addition.  Cons:  messy streets from the horses.
·      June 1888– Spokane’s first cable car line (not a streetcar or trolley)—Spokane Cable Car Company--had one route heading toward Fort Wright, and another route heading up toward a new South Hill development called Cable Addition.  This company built the first Monroe Street Bridge for its cable line.  Cons:  Very expensive.  Streets had to be dug up to lay cable.  When the cable went out, every car stopped.
·      November 1888– Spokane’s first steam-powered line by Spokane and Montrose began operation on the South Hill. The streetcars were called Steam Dummies.  The Montrose reference was to an undeveloped potential park to be called Montrose Park but was eventually developed and became Manito Park.  Cons:  Noisy, frightened horses, blew soot over pedestrians, had to build up a head of steam before could move trolley.
·      1889– The first electric trolley line begins in the East Central area.  
·      1889– The horse-drawn lines immediately begin changing over to electricity.
·      1891– The remaining horse-drawn lines complete conversion to electricity.
·      1892– The steam-powered lines convert to electricity.
·      1894– The last cable car line ceases operation; its route is taken over by electric trolley

Competition between the companies was fierce.  WWP—in 1899--bought up all of the smaller trolley lines except one.  By 1910, WWP and the Spokane and Montrose each had 12 lines all around the area.  People could ride the Trolley to work, to baseball games, to vaudeville shows, to Natatorium Park.   Often high school students when riding a streetcar would rock the cars to get them off the tracks!  Then everyone had to wait until someone could come and put the car back on the tracks.
The price to ride any trolley was five cents which back then was a large amount of money. An ad for the new electric streetcars read:    
"Imagine speeding down the street at the amazing speed of ten miles per hour. Gliding up hills effortlessly and traveling in style to all the corners of Spokane Falls for only a nickel." 
These days we may not think that ten miles per hour is very fast, but when that ad was written it was pretty fast! 
By 1915, the trolley era was already declining.  Cars were more common.  By the 1920s buses were becoming the new public transportation—they were faster and cheaper. Spokane’s trolley lines consolidated in 1922 renamed to Spokane United Railways; by 1933, they saw the future in buses and began to convert; the conversion to buses was completed in three years.  
On August 23, 1936, all of the trolleys were burned in a huge bonfire!

Sources: Spokane History Timeline, Trolleys, Streetcars and Steam Dummies – 1888, Spokesman Review article, “Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley…Spokane’s Electric Trolley’s Helped Shape the City and Became Its Lifeline At the Turn of Century, May 21, 1995

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How Sacred Heart Hospital Got Its Name

By Kris Krell

How Sacred Heart Hospital Got Its Name

On July 2, 1886, the newly built hospital was awaiting the blessing of its cornerstones. Community members and a group of Catholic priests and sisters had gathered for the blessing.  Also in attendance were Mother Joseph, Sister Joseph of Arimathea as well as Aegidius Junger, the Bishop of Nisqually. While the Bishop was giving the blessing, he asked Mother Joseph for the name of the hospital.  Mother Joseph was speechless--the superior of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal had not provided the hospital’s name. Assistant priest, Aloysius Ragaru, SJ, said, “Sacred Heart Hospital.”  Ragaru either remembered that July 2 was the day of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, or that Mother Joseph’s full name was Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart.  

Here’s a brief history of Sacred Heart Hospital from 1886 to 1900:

·      April 30, 1886, Mother Joseph left Vancouver, Washington, for Spokane, WA.
·      May, 14, 1886, Sisters in Montreal, Canada, agree to build a hospital.
·      July 2, 1886, Blessing of the Cornerstone and naming of hospital.
·      January 15, 1887, First patient is admitted
·      January 27, 1887, Sacred Heart Hospital officially opens.
·      February 14, 1887, The county awards the Sisters a contract to care for the poor.   
        Contract rate is $1 per day.
·      1888, 579 total patients seen.
·      1889, Additional wing opens.
·      1893, The first operating table arrives, quickly followed by two more additions to 
        accommodate three operations per day.
·      1892, Electric lights replace oil lamps.
·      1893, First obstetrical patient delivers a baby at Sacred Heart.
·      1898, Nurses Training School opens—first in Spokane and second in the state.
·      1899, Doctors pay $375 for the first X-ray machine.  
·      1900, First class of nurses graduate from the School of Nursing.

Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart and four companion sisters were sent from the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal to Ft. Vancouver, Washington Territory where they arrived on December 8, 1856.  They were sent to Spokane to serve the unmet needs especially among the poor. Thus began the legacy of the Sisters of Providence in establishing health care, educational and social ministries for people in the Northwestern and coastal regions of the United States and Canada.

Mother Joseph, at the request of Fr. Joseph Cataldo, SJ, designed and supervised the 1886 construction of a “refuge for the homeless, poor and dying,” the area’s first hospital, built in the frontier town of Spokane Falls.  At the time, Sacred Heart Hospital was a 31-bed facility built along the Spokane River where the Spokane Convention Center stands today.  

Mother Joseph established 29 hospitals (this includes Spokane Sacred Heart Hospital), schools, orphanages, and care centers to care for the sick, poor, aged, homeless, and children. 

By 1910, the hospital had grown so quickly that a new hospital was needed.  Horse-drawn wagons carried the hospital’s contents and patients to their new South Hill site—which remains the current site today.  The South Hill at the time was said to be “out of town.” The new hospital had 240 rooms and could handle 1000 patients, it also had a maternity ward and nursery—women are now birthing in hospitals instead of at home.

Sources:  Donna Potter Phillips, Providence Health Care Heartbeat Magazine Summer 2016, Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

DNA eWorkshop

Just a quick reminder, for any EWGS members that are interested, Family History Fanatics is conducting an online DNA eWorkshop: After the Test the evenings of Nov 29, Dec 6, and Dec 13. Participants will learn about what they can do with their DNA results after the test and how to start using this powerful genealogical tool.  Six hours of interactive instruction for the early bird price is $24.99 through November 18th and $29.99 thereafter. More details and registration can be found at Feel free to let any of your friends or family know about this workshop.

Andrew & Devon Noel Lee
Family History Fanatics
Humble, TX | 346-704-1433

Spokane's Treasure: The Looff Carrousel

By Kris Krell

Spokane’s Treasure:  The Looff Carrousel

Continued from last week…

So how did the Looff Carousel find its home in Spokane, Washington?  

Washington Water Power Company (WWP), wanted to promote trolleys so they opened Twickenham Park in 1893 (later to become Natatorium Park) with their partner Spokane Street Railway.  The Ingersoll Amusement Company, who operated the park for owners WWP, commissioned the carrousel in 1907 with no money down.   Looff also designed and built the famous Coney Island carousel.  Ingersoll and Looff had a deal for WWP to buy the carousel for the park.  

Looff built the carousel in his Rhode Island workshop, but before it was completed, WWP had to revoke the deal as The Ingersoll Amusement Company had gone bankrupt because of the Panic of 1907, and WWP was burdened with debt because of the Ingersol bankruptcy,  Neither could afford the $20,000 cost of building and shipping of the carousel, so Looff shipped it to Spokane in pieces in 1909, and gave it to his daughter, Emma Vogel, and her husband, Louis Vogel, as a wedding gift.  The carousel sat in crates in the railway yards for months.  

Looff’s daughter, Emma, had recently moved to Spokane with her husband, a banker.  Charles Looff told WWP that he would cancel the $20,000 debt and release the carousel if WWP would make the Vogels the park’s concessionaires.  WWP liked this arrangement, and the park opened July 18, 1909, with the Looff Carrousel as the Park’s newest attraction.  The Vogels purchased Natatorium Park in 1929.  

The Carrousel featured 54 beautifully unique carved and painted horses, two “chariot-benches”, a giraffe, a goat, a tiger--which according to Bette Largent, the artist in charge of restoring and maintaining the carrousel--is very rare.  Largent calls the tiger “sneaky” because the head is looking down.  As of 2009, there were only three of these “sneakys” remaining.  The Carrousel also had a state-of-the-art German “band organ” by Ruth and Sons, with 300 pipes, manufactured in Waldkirch, Germany and imported by Looff around 1900.  The organ is similar to a player piano as it played music automatically using folded book music.  Every year a new music book arrived with the most current tunes.

A March 14, 2016, article, “Collector donates an early Looff horse to Spokane’s Carrousel”, by The Spokesman Review, discusses Jack, a horse who was most likely carved in 1886—which would make Jack about 20 years older than Spokane’s 1909 Carrousel.  

Jack is a fixed-in-place prancing horse built for the inside ring of a carousel.  They know that Jack is an early carving by Looff because of the carving of the front leg muscles.  Jack was on at least three other carousels at Coney Island and Feltman’s Pavilion in New York’s entertainment destination.  As of this newspaper article above, Jack was valued at between $7,500 and $8,500.  

The outside ring of horses are called “jumpers” and most everybody wanted an outside horse.  When technology was developed to make the animals on the inside ring move up and down, that development was made to attract riders to the inside ring.

The Spokesman Review, The Man Who Saved the Carrousel, April 18, 1996, 
The Spokeman Review, Collector Donates an early Loooff horse to Spokane’s Carrousel, March 14, 2016, 
The Spokesman Review, Artist’s touch keeps 100-year old Carrousel looking young, March 20, 2009, 
The Spokesman Review, Horsing around, July 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Spokane's Treasure: The Looff Carrousel

By Kris Krell

Spokane’s Treasure:  The Looff Carrousel

When I was in college—first two years at SFCC in Spokane and last two years at Eastern Washington State College in Cheney—I worked at Fabricland fabric store in the Spokane Valley.  After Expo ’74, one of my Fabricland coworkers was a high school student who had the privilege of being chosen as a volunteer helping to restore the Looff Carousel for the new Riverfront Park.  It was quite an exciting time for her!  

The Looff Carousel is one of the few original intact carousels built by carver and carousel inventor Charles Looff; he emigrated from Denmark to Brooklyn (Other reports say that he was from Schleswig-Holstein now part of Germany.) at the age of 18 years  old.  From the 1800s to the 1960s, the United States had between 4,000 and 5,000 carousels.  In 2016, only 152 wood carousels including the Looff Carousel remained.

When my coworker helped restore the Looff Carousel, it had been in storage since 1968—when Natatorium Park permanently closed its doors due to the decline in amusement park visitors.  With the hopes of Spokane hosting Expo ’74, Spokane decided to reinvent the downtown riverfront.  It was the dream of Spokane Parks Director William S. Fearn to include the Carousel in the plans—not for Expo but for the new Riverfront Park that would be developed after Expo ’74.  

Bill Oliver, a Natatorium Park handyman and electrician, inherited the Carrousel from Lloyd Vogel, son of Emma and Louis Vogel.  Bill offered the Carrousel to Spokane County for $40,000, well below its estimated value of $100,000, but they said they could buy a new one for that amount.  (As of April 1996, it was reported that the Carousel was worth well over $1 million.)  Spokane City Council, though, grabbed at the offer and required that a certain portion of the cost be raised through donations.

The city received an $80,000 anonymous donation, and the 10-sided building was built to house the future Carousel.  During the fair, the building was used as a Bavarian beer garden.

On May 8, 1975, the restored Looff Carrousel was reopened to crowds of thousands.  Since 1975, an average of 275,000 to 300,000 riders each year have visited Riverfront Park for a ride on the Looff Carrousel.

Many carousels were lost to fires, floods, and collectors wanting to have the carved figures which are now considered American folk art.  Before the economic downturn of 2008, the outside ring horses were each horse valued at $35,000.

Riverfront Park, as of 2009, reported that they use about 50,000 plastic rings each year even though visitors are not to take them home as souvenirs.

In 2009, The Looff Carrousel turned 100.  On September 19, 1977, the Carrousel was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

                     To Be Continued Next Week…

The Spokesman Review, The Man Who Saved the Carrousel, April 18, 1996, 
The Spokeman Review, Collector Donates an early Looff horse to Spokane’s Carrousel, March 14, 2016, 
The Spokesman Review, Artist’s touch keeps 100-year old Carrousel looking young, March 20, 2009, 
The Spokesman Review, Horsing around, July 12, 2009