100 years ago in Spokane: A hotel fire, radio fever and two army ‘birdmen’ made headlines

Clouds of smoke billowed from the roof of the Central Hotel as the tarmac surface caught fire.

Crowds gathered several stories below near Main Avenue and Washington Street. Sparks apparently started the blaze, but quick action by firefighters averted serious damage. The fire never spread beyond the roof.

From the radio rhythm: Radio fever was so high that the Spokane Daily Chronicle ran an ad praising the merits of “the West’s first radio show,” that is, a radio exhibit.

The show, to be held at Seattle’s Dreamland Pavilion, promised “a week of wondrous and mystifying radio stunts – seeing the strange movements of the radio automobile, guided without human contact”.

The organizers also promised “live messages from France and Germany, received by the US Navy station during the show”. Tickets were only 50 cents and the railroads offered reduced fares.

From the rhythm of aviation: Two army ‘birdmen’ visited Parkwater Airfield as part of a campaign to support the Citizens Training Camp at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma.

The two pilots, Lt. Ned Schramm and Lt. HC Minter, were given lunch by the Spokane Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee.

They came from their home ground in Sacramento, Calif., with stops in Portland and Walla Walla. They had planned to spend the night in Spokane, then drive around town at 9 a.m. before heading to Seattle.


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Sandy A. Greer