Document 2: Spokane Transportation

John R. Reavis, First Annual Report of the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Spokane for the Year 1891 (Spokane: W. D. Knight, 1892),
6-7, 10-12. Pacific Northwest Collections, University of Washington Libraries.

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Jobbing Trade

By reason of her geographical position and railroad connections Spokane is fitted as no other city is, or ever can be, to be the distributing center of all that country within a radius of 150 miles, and in some instances territory much farther away. There is no point 150 miles from Spokane that is not at least 225 miles from any other city of 10,000 population. We have about us a territory of 60,000 square miles in extent, to every point of which we are nearer than any other city, to every point of which we have better railroad connections and easier grades than any other city; to almost every point of which we have telephonic communication to the exclusion of every other city, and to every point of which we are more closely united by mutual interest, mutual sympathy, similarity of climate, similarity of pursuits, tastes and ambitions, than any other city. In this country is a unit with Spokane we claim to have the moral and commercial right to possess at least an equal opportunity with anybody else to do the business…

Within a radius of 150 miles of Spokane are the counties of Spokane, Whitman, Stevens, Lincoln, Douglas, Adams, Franklin, Okanogan, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Assotin, in the State of Washington; and in the State of Idaho, the counties of Nez Perce, Latah, Shoshone and Kootenai; the Colville Indian Reservation in the State of Washington and all that part of British Columbia lying along our border between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade Mountains on the west. If you will look at a map you will observe that Spokane is the only city, with one exception (that exception a city 500 miles distant) that can supply the region described by these counties and districts, without climbing a range of mountains…

Here, then, is a vast country of great and increasing prosperity lying at out doors. We have eight lines of railroad that radiate out in all directions through it, so that shipments made here in the morning can reach any point within its borders by nightfall. We have a telephone system connecting us with almost every shipping town and shipping station within its borders. Goods may be ordered, shipped and received, in most instances, within one day. Never was a city more intimately knit to its surrounding territory than Spokane, and never was one more free from a legitimate rival in trade, yet owning to an arbitrary and artificial adjustment of freight tariffs of the two transcontinental railroads that reach disadvantages our jobbers labor under wrongful disadvantages…

The matter of transportation lies at the very foundation of the prosperity and success of every commercial center. We cannot hope to have such a city here as the country about us demands, and as would be justified by every natural condition, if we are to continue to suffer from confessedly unjust discrimination in railroad freight charges. We have no water transportation with which to equalize the cost of carriage. We are compelled to look to the railroads and to the railroads alone. They get all our traffic and out contention is that they ought to apply the maxim “live and let live.” This organization has not been actuated by hostility to the railroads as such, in making this contest. It is simply a question of self-preservation, fair dealing and justice. We have stood between the railroads and hostile legislation. We recognize what they have done and are doing for the Pacific Northwest; be we do protest against, and I think I may say we shall oppose in every legal and honorable manner, the imposition of glaring and inexcusable discrimination.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest