Spokane Story

“Spokane Story: A Colorful Early History of the Capital City of the Inland Empire” by Lucile Foster Fargo offers readers an evocative journey through the formative years of Spokane, Washington. Published in 1957 by Northwestern Press in Minneapolis, this work seeks to straddle the realms of history and storytelling, presenting a narrative that is neither entirely factual history nor pure fiction. Fargo accepts the challenging task of depicting Spokane’s cultural and developmental evolution from its fur trade beginnings to its emergence as a municipal entity in the early twentieth century.

Fargo’s unique approach to this history involves focusing on the lives of characteristic individuals who embody the spirit and transformation of Spokane. These are not always the most famous or influential figures on a national scale, but rather those who provide a balanced view of the city’s growth and whose stories have become interwoven with local lore. Some of these individuals have been the subjects of detailed biographies, contributing to the rich tapestry of anecdotes and facts that Fargo weaves together.

The book is the product of extensive research, drawing from a wide array of sources including pioneer reminiscences, diaries, city and county histories, commercial pamphlets, and scholarly articles from publications like the Pacific Northwest Quarterly and the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Newspapers such as The Spokesman-Review and The Spokane Chronicle, along with contributions from the author’s personal connections during her seventeen years living in Spokane, enrich Fargo’s narrative. The Spokane Public Library’s Northwest Collection and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, are among the key resources thanked for their invaluable assistance.

Fargo aims to present this rich history with a “light touch,” targeting readers interested in the Inland Empire and Spokane’s development without the demand of navigating more dense academic works. Her affection for the region’s sunshine, lore, and laughter is evident, and she extends an invitation to readers to share in this appreciation. “Spokane Story” is more than a history book; it is a heartfelt tribute to a community and its people, told with warmth and an insightful perspective.

Spokane Story: A Colorful Early History of the Capital City of the Inland Empire

Table of Contents

Big Business on the Little Spokane, p. 3
Tshimakain, p. 23
Spokane Garry, p. 51
Bunchgrass Realm: High, Wide, and Handsome, p. 69
Sod-Busters, p. 85
Father of Spokane, p. 97
She Danced the First Waltz, p. 115
Education Looks Up, p. 127
A Whistle Blows in the County Seat
In the Days of the Jackass, p. 150
According to His Code, p. 164
And Gay Delights, p. 177
“Electric Service Since 1889,” p. 193
Tabernacle and Soap Box, p. 211
“That Woman!” p. 224
She Huffed and She Puffed, p. 243
Ready, Go! p. 258
Bibliography, p. 261
Index, p. 271


Fargo, Lucile Foster, Spokane story: a colorful early history of the capital city of the Inland Empire, Minneapolis : Northwestern Press, 1957.


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