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  • To preserve and sustain the unique character of the Little Spokane River Valley, including it's open space and natural setting.
  • To maintain lower density zoning.
  • To protect the area's ecosystem including water quality, wetlands, priority habitat and wildlife, and dwindling native vegetation.
  • To encourage the development of area parks and natural areas.
  • To educate public officials of the concerns of the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley, and be pro-active when major issues are at the forefront.

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    Welcome to the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley

    The Way It Was: History Along Our Organization’s Namesake
    by Tina Wynecoop
    Scattered throughout the Little Spokane River’s middle reach reside people who have spent their lives along its banks. Among them they can recall the old timers, the several dairies, ranches, fur farms, logging, road building, a plane crash, the speakeasy, Chief Joseph’s campsite, a landscape nursery, stores, schools, business magnates, investors, mining quarries, railroads, politicians, waterwheels, potato and hay farms, parks, trails, a golf course, grist and log mills, inventors, fish, wildlife, a restaurant, skiing, ice skating, the grange, cemetery, orchards, a Native American village - and on and on -- summed up in four words: The Way It Was.

    For this article I invited Bart Haggin and Jim Pounder to sit around our kitchen table and reminisce -- and reminisce they did! Between them there are 100+ years of memories. They began the interview by talking about their trusty dogs. Jim remembered that Bart was "one of the good guys and that he went into town to school and that he had dogs named Queenie and Blaze." Bart recollected that Jim moved in across the road from his house (Little Spokane Drive) in 1940. Bart occasionally played at Jim’s house. He said that Jim had a dog named Prince. Jim attended Mead schools and said that everyone who went to Mead "scraped the mud off their shoes." In those days Mead students were outdoor kids who brought some of the valley’s rich soil along with them every time they entered the school doors.

    The Great Depression and WWII deeply impacted everybody in the region. Bart recited a little ditty from that time: "Waste not, want not, use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." He added, "It was a different world then. Everybody was community-minded, and everybody just showed up to help with jobs too large for one person to handle. This was a community where everyone pitched in and helped their neighbors up and down the river." And, he added, during wartime he shot all the [enemies]. Jim interjected: "Not all of them. I got some of them, too!"

    These young soldiers, armed with wooden guns, protected the neighborhood!

    Here are two subjects of many from their conversations which piqued my curiosity: local waterwheels and a jet plane crash.

    Water Wheels

    Jim said that his family irrigated their farmland with two waterwheels designed by a French engineer and put in place by inventor B.C.Riblet on what is now the Pounder property. Remnants of the structures are still visible.

    Waterwheel in Winter, 1939

    By happenstance this reporter found a photo album from the 1920’s at the MAC museum library which contains a photograph of another waterwheel along the Little Spokane. I was reminded, too, of the waterwheel I once kayaked past, which lay just downstream from Riverview Road/Little Spokane Drive, which I saw when I first moved to this area in 1976. The sound of the waterwheel’s paddles softly lifting the river water and then the water’s spilling was delightful and enchanting. This last week I went to each home in that area and asked if they had that wheel on their property, and, if so, could I hear its story and photograph it.

    Finally, I found the waterwheel’s owner, Dan Forsyth. His father, Aubrey Forsyth, designed and built the hydraulic system in the 1930’s for Dan’s aunt, Echo Fuson, while he was a student at Washington State College. The Ice Storm of 1997 and hundred-year flood episodes and ice flows took the waterwheel down. Fortunately Dan is sharing his photographs with the newsletter’s readers.This particular waterwheel was built to move fresh water out of the river into a naturally occurring low-water pond at the river’s edge -- a pond which grew stagnant during dry seasons. Fresh infusions of river water into the pond helped native fish survive and eliminated odors that emerged during warm weather. Like his father, Dan, who was born a mile upstream from his aunt's house, built a waterwheel on his own family’s property - its sound effects on that quietly meandering portion of the stream were a nice feature. Dan told of a still-functioning water ram constructed near the Fuson’s that long-time neighbor Roy Hotchkiss (owner of Spokane Indians Baseball team) built to pump water out of the river up to a reservoir to create a gravity-flow sprinkler system in order to irrigate the hillside fields he owned near Riverview Road/Little Spokane Drive. One family still relies on the pump’s piping capacity to water their lawn.

    Waterwheel/windmill near Dartford, 1920's

    Would pedestrians along the FLSRV trail be aware of these waterwheels (I’ve learned of at least five of them) which once dotted this part of the river without these shared remembrances?

    Plane Crash

    I did not find a written record of the 1950’s Navy jet trainer plane that crashed into a rocky hillside upslope from the Little Spokane River between Midway and Riverview Roads, The vivid memories of young boys and a twisted piece of metal suffice as proof that it happened.

    Early one morning c.1954 Jim was awakened from where he slept outside in the family’s sleeping porch, by the sound of a plane coming in low from the east over the little town of Colbert. It crashed near the Hotchkiss place. "The jolt felt just like an earthquake." The plane’s hydraulics had failed and the pilot bailed out somewhere near Hilltop Road not far from Highway 2. All that was left of the plane was a smoking hole and a few fragments. The military brass rolled in and had the crash site fenced off. Dan recalls hearing sirens and seeing all the airplanes buzzing around after the crash. He and Jim remember that the pilot suffered a leg injury and was found limping along the road. Dan stated, "I have a piece of the plane which I collected from the crash site -- all we were told was to show what we found to the person in charge and ask if it was something we could keep. I have that metal in a drawer somewhere."


    So, in this brief look back into the way it was we’ve just dipped our toes in the historical waters of the beautiful and richly interesting place that is our collective home ground. Jim and Bart concluded the interview at our kitchen table with, "There is a book here and the Bamontes should write it before everyone that remembers the way it was is gone." I’ll approach local historians Tony and Suzanne Bamonte with this excellent recommendation.

    *Special thanks to Jim and Bart and Dan. Future The Way it Was articles would be enriched by interviews with long-timers Mrs. Pat Green Peterson, Mrs. Pat Rowley Bidwell, Mrs. Niscette Hildebrandt Davis, Mrs. Kay Ringo, Mrs. Joanne Steele Ide, among others (and I just touched on the subjects brought up by the three men).

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