Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 12 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

The last time we learned about the 1893 collapse of the stock market and how Cook suffered the loss of his Spokane & Montrose Streetcar Company.  He also lost the land offered as collateral on the $40,000 note in a sheriff’s sale in 1895 (Superior Court case #8425).  Most of Cook’s dreams for the future development of the Montrose/Manito neighborhood and park were swallowed up with the loss of the land.  However, records indicate Cook made every effort to retain possession of their elegant home by selling much of the property adjacent to the home.  Sadly, their efforts were futile.  In July of 1897, the house was lost to the Provident Trust Company in another sheriff’s sale.  The Montrose Park Addition’s thriving future was not to materialize until almost a decade later.  By this time, Cook was well into other endeavors.

Francis Cook was 42 years old when the Panic of 1893 hit.  During his lifetime, he was dogged in his efforts to achieve success.  Laura Cook later wrote of her husband, “The greater the task, the more it seemed to appeal to Mr. Cook.”  His accomplishments were a better measure of his successes than his financial struggles would reveal. Although bringing life to the future Manito Park and surrounding area is perhaps his most popular legacy, it would not be Cook’s only accomplishment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 11 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

In 1892 Cook converted the little wood-burning trolley to electricity, which was purchased from Washington Water Power.  It continued to shuttle people to and from his Montrose Park building sites, but there was little profit for Cook.  He struggled to sell the building sites and meet his expenses.  There were only a few dirt roads and no water service.  Consequently, the new Montrose Park area remained mostly undeveloped.  Mirror Lake and the pavilion, built at the time of Spokane’s first fair in 1886, were the main attractions. With the expectation of a promising future, the Cooks borrowed $40,000 on a three-year promissory note from Northwestern and Pacific Hypotheebank on July 19, 1892.  As collateral for the note, the Cooks offered 460 acres of land, including the area on which most of Manito Park and Manito Boulevard lies today, extending from about 17th to 37th Avenue.  No doubt, this note helped finance further development, and the construction of Cook’s beautiful home, with its lofty view of the city and Mt. Spokane in the distance.  This nine-bedroom home was the first significant residence on the Manito Plateau.

Unfortunately, the Cooks could not foresee the economic panic that was to occur the following year, resulting in the worst depression since the 1870s.  On June 27, 1893, silver hit an all-time low of 77 cents per ounce.  With the resulting shutdown of many mines throughout the country and a collapse of the stock market, the nation entered into a four-year depression.  Many of Spokane’s tycoons lost their fortunes.

Next time we’ll hear what happened to Cook during this downturn of 1893 and beyond.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 10 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

Last time we read about the newly established motorized public transportation line Mr. Cook and his business partners established between downtown Spokane and the Montrose Addition (now Manito Park) in 1888.

A descriptive account of the early Spokane & Montrose line appeared in a Spokesman Review article dated May 10, 1936.  This article contains recollections typical of the early streetcar lines:

It was the hardest working line Spokane ever operated.  The engine was operated by an engineer and fireman and the two passenger coaches were in charge of a conductor.  Peter Mertz, former chief of police, was its first conductor.  In leaving the top of the hill, the tram went down nose first but on the return trip, the two coaches were backed up.  During the winter in some of the heavy snows, Mr. Mertz states that It took the crew all day to get the little train down and back in one trip.

The tram had no schedule and ran whenever it could negotiate its trips.  It had a loud whistle and its engine sent forth such a flood of sparks that anybody could spot its whereabouts on the line.  And many of its passenger carried souvenir holes in their clothing burned by the sparks.

A tale is told of a lady passenger who rode frequently on the train in the “rush” hours of the  morning.  If a passenger didn’t manage to get a seat inside and was obliged to stand on the platform, he or she spent her time fighting off the sparks.  This is what happened to the lady.  Disembarking at Riverside, she entered a department store and was making a purchase when she smelled smoke and suggested to the clerk that the store must be on fire.

He sniffed and smelled the smoke also and was about to put in a fire alarm when he saw the smoke was rising from the top of the lady’s hat.  It was one of the little tram’s sparks that had snuggled in the beflowered crown and after smoldering for a time, was sending up little fumes of curling smoke.

Mr. Mertz admitted the other day that lots of people were afraid to ride in the train because its cars ran off the track frequently…Riding the tram was Sunday’s amusement venture in Spokane and according to Mr. Mertz, he used to collect as much as $50 a Sunday.  The fare was 10 cents.  His salary was $1.00 a day – “And I was glad to get it.”  Mr. Mertz reminisced.  Old-timers recall that it was a dull day that the tram didn’t instigate a runaway.  The puffing, spouting engine with its rain of sparks was the last thing a horse wanted to see.

Next time we will learn about the conversion of the trolley line to early electricity and the pitfalls of that transition.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 9 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

We previously read about the roles Mr. Cook and T.J. Dooley had in establishing the Montrose Addition which is now the Manito neighborhood.  Following the first Spokane county fair on Mr. Cook’s property, he and Mr. Dooley decided to apply for permission to get a public transportation line started in Spokane.

On December 20, 1887, the Spokane Falls City Council granted a franchise allowing the construction of the motor line.  The franchise was given to Cook, Dooley and two other men, Horatio Belt and E.A. Routhe, for a period of 30 years.  With a $25,000 loan made by the Provident Trust Company, construction began in the spring of 1888.  On November 6, 1888, the Spokane & Montrose Motor Railroad, powered by a wood-burning steam engine, began operations in Spokane’s first motor trolley.  (A horse-drawn trolley owned by H.C. Marshall and A.J. Ross, preceded Cook’s line.  This passenger trolley, pulled by two horses, made its first trip in April of 1888.  It operated on tracks from the intersection of Division Street and Riverside to the west side of Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition.)

Cook’s Spokane & Montrose line initially consisted of a square-shaped engine and two passenger coaches.  The route began between Front and Riverside, traveled south on Washington Street to Sixth Avenue, where it turned east to a rock cut on Bernard Street between Seventh and Eighth.  From there it proceeded to a point where the Rockwood gateposts now stand.  It then continued west on Sumner to the site of the present St. John’s Cathedral, then south on Grand to Montrose (Manito) Park, where the original line ended at about 19th.

Next time we’ll explore an early Spokesman Review article about this new motorized passenger line in Spokane.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 8 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past:

In 1880 Spokane’s population only numbered about 350 people, but within 10 years it reached over 22,000.  Spokane was becoming a booming city, and transportation – limited to horses – would undergo a major change.  As can be expected, Francis Cook, founder of Manito Park once again emerged as a leader as Spokane evolved toward the motorized public transportation.  His next enterprise was to have a major impact on the development of the South Hill and Manito Park.

In 1887 Cook’s farm on the South Hill underwent a drastic transition, greatly influencing the development of the Manito Park area.  In July of 1887, a lawyer by the name of T.J. Dooley arrived from Minnesota, where he had been engaged in real estate development.  Shortly after his arrival, he became excited about the potential of the town, especially of Cook’s property and its proximity to the town.  Two of the biggest attractions to the plateau were its lofty location with an expensive view and, being outside the city limits, city taxes would not apply.

Dooley acted quickly and on the 19th of November 1887, he and Cook formed a land development partnership.  Under the terms of this agreement, Dooley agreed to procure a franchise and funding for construction of a motorized residential streetcar line from the main section of town to Cook’s property, which Cook would build and operate.  Dooley would also play Cook’s land into a subdivision of residential lots, creating the Montrose Park Addition.  It was to include streets, alleys, boulevards (namely Grand and Manito) and parks.  In exchange for Dooley’s efforts,  Cook agreed to give him sole control over the sale of these lots, with Dooley receiving up to 20% for each lot sold.  The contract was extended for a period of three years.

Learn more about this blossoming new partnership in the next segment!