News for an Empire

While the Review stepped ahead, the rival Chronicle also was strengthening its position in the community. Major E. A. Routhe, officer in the Union forces in the Civil War and formerly political correspondent of the Chicago Inter Ocean, became editor and the names of Routhe and Cowley appeared at the masthead. With the issue of September 21, 1886, the Chronicle became an evening daily, permanently, as it proved.

In this same year, the Northwest Tribune moved from Cheney to Spokane Falls and the daily News appeared as a campaign paper.

The periodic starting of new papers in Spokane Falls and the expansion of the older journals reflected growth in the town itself and throughout the surrounding empire. It is an interesting coincidence that in the same year the Cayuse Indians murdered the pioneer Inland Empire wheatgrower, Whitman, Cyrus Hall McCormick erected his great Chicago factory to manufacture his reaping machines on a large scale. The McCormick reaper and other products of inventive skill made it possible to develop the Inland Empire as a substantial wheat-producing district. At harvest time in 1886 the wheat crop of Washington Territory, mainly east of the Cascades, was placed at 5,800,000 bushels. Wheat meant wealth, population, newspaper readers, and customers for newspaper advertisers. But the same kind of mechanical genius that produced farming tools was also hard at work on newspaper production problems: on ways and means of achieving the swifter transmission of news, on building larger and faster presses, on the construction of better typesetting machines, on the improvement and cheapening of paper making processes. The development of natural resources, of which wheat is only one example, paced the evolution of machinery that would produce more and better newspapers at a faster clip for the enlightenment of wheat farmers and others.

Building railroads in the Inland Empire was just one phase of the swift-rolling, integrated process of expansion which involved the man at the plow handles, the man at the type cases, the man at the throttle of his engine.

In 1885 the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern built westward from Spokane Falls to Davenport, stimulating settlement in the Big Bend wheat country. In 1886, the O. R. & N. extended a line from Colfax to Farmington in the name of the Columbia and Palouse. The Spokane and Palouse later acquired by the Northern Pacific was steadily pushing construction to take in new points in the Palouse district.

These railways would supplement the river boats and barges in moving the Inland Empire’s wheat to tidewater and world markets. Also, the laying of rails broadened the area in which a Spokane Falls newspaper could give speedy delivery.

Early in 1887 D. C. Corbin built fifteen miles of railroad from a point on the Northern Pacific Railway to Coeur d’Alene Lake. This connected with a line of steamboats to the Old Mission, from which point a narrow-gauge line ran to the mines. That meant that a lot of hard-rock miners would get their world news sooner than they had been getting it.

The telephone was one of the inventions that helped newspapers enormously in expanding their services. By extending the range of the human voice it made it easier for a Spokane newspaper to give adequate service to a territory “large as New England.” It was appropriate, therefore, that a journalist who learned to set type on the Spirit of the West in Walla Walla was the man behind important telephone developments in Spokane Falls and the Inland Empire. That journalist was Charles B. Hopkins, founder of the Palouse Gazette, with E. L. (or L. B.) Kellogg, of the Sprague Herald, and, in 1882, owner of the Spokane Falls Chronicle.