Industrial Falls Test
On the heels of the settler era, the falls increasingly became a source of industry and power rather than a thing of natural beauty. They disappeared beneath girders and sawmills as people used its energy to grow wealthy.
The years between Washington statehood in 1889 and the Great Depression witnessed a rapid transformation of the falls as industry, bridges and railroads crisscrossed what is now Riverfront Park.
As you stand below the Great Northern tower, read and look at how Riverfront Park was once a center for commerce and industry.
It was the power of the river and the closeness of farms and forests that led to the first stage of these changes. Mills had already appeared along the Spokane River even before James Glover purchased the core of modern Spokane. But it was mills that led to Spokane's first boom as the water was diverted to grind flour and turn saw blades. The downriver corner of Havermale Island, where you stand, was packed with flour mill and sawmills by 1889.
But as a guidebook put it that same year, "Spokane Falls is rapidly becoming the center of an extensive railroad system" and the center of that rail system in Spokane was Havermale Island. In addition to the Great Northern railroad depot, whose tower rises above you, the island was soon covered in warehouses and railyards.
But, as the islands were covered in buildings, the falls disappeared from view among the dams, the mills, the bridges, the brick walls and the steel rails. As Spokane boomed, the falls faltered.