DescriptionIn front of you is the Thomas R. Adkison Theme Stream. Expo 74 planners created this feature to emphasize the roaring falls on the far side of Havermale Island. It was also meant to rejoin the southern channel of the Spokane River to the middle channel. After many decades, it became a true island again. Ironically, it became a peninsula because of the water that tumbles in front of you and flows through the gorge of the Spokane River.
For nineteenth-century pioneers like James Glover, falling water could be harnessed to grind flour and saw logs. These were the fundamental industrial activities in a region still rich in timber and already rich in grain and they would draw people to the village of Spokane Falls.
The mill business, though lucrative, was also volatile. Owners made their profits then quickly sold out and moved on. As this doggrel from The Spokesman-Review put it:
"There was Simon, who built him a mill,
And dressed dudish sufficient to kill
On the banks of this stream
Ah it seems like a dream.
He's departed, but it's with us still."
But mills were also literally volatile. Flour and sawdust were both explosive and flammable. This spot was the site of the Spokane Mill Co., which survived the Great Fire of 1889 only to partially burn in 1892. To trap logs coming down the Spokane River, the mill companies filled the southern channel with earth.
Harnessing the river defined Spokane as a community before, during and after the mining and railroad booms. In 1897, The Spokesman-Review asked its readers to celebrate the Spokane River in verse, and even the most satirical poems lauded the manifest and majestic power of the falls.
As years of European-American settlement passed into decades, the edge of the river became encrusted by businesses that depended on its power and water. Spokane was enriched by its namesake river, but only sometimes remembered it.