The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot (Amtrak Station)

The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot, now the Amtrak Station, was the site of 2 events in the dramatic labor history of Spokane.


In April of 1894, "under the flare of gasoline torches," unemployed workers from all over the Inland Northwest gathered, prepared to travel to Washington, D.C. to protest the policies of Congress and President Grover Cleveland. "Going to Washington to See Grover" and "On to Washington," they chanted. "In Spokane, several thousand men and a sprinkling of women were preparing to join Jacob Coxey and other protesters" at the nation's capital.


The second event occurred the same week in April 1894 when 65 members of Coxey's Army were sealed in boxcars for 18 hours and began calling out for food and water. The unemployed men had been arrested in Yakima and were being sent to Seattle for trial through Spokane. The train made a stop at the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. Their cries for food and water attracted nearly 3,000 worker sympathizers, both men and women. Additional deputies were called in to squelch the crowd as the police chief and city officials grappled with the situation.


Started in Ohio and led by Jacob Coxey an Ohio businessman, Coxey's Army, or Coxeyites as they were called, organized to march on Washington, D.C. They were dismayed because 1894 was the second year of a four-year depression and the worst economic depression in the nation's history up to that time. Across the nation more than two-and-a-half million unemployed men walked the streets in search of work in the terrible winter of 1893-1894. Although the official name of the group was the "Commonweal in Christ," all over the country men came together forming their own local groups calling themselves Coxey's Army, the Commonweal Army, Commonwealers, and in Montana, Hogan's Band or Hogan's Army. These groups from all over the country planned to come together and join Jacob Coxey in Washington.


Across the nation, Spokane gained the reputation for worker solidarity. The Coxey march was the first large popular protest march on the nation's capital. In popular culture, Coxey's Army was the inspiration for the book the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Author L. Frank Baum was among the people observing the march.

Images

Baltimore Newspaper, April 18, 1894

Baltimore Newspaper, April 18, 1894

Source: Baltimore Morning Hearld, Apr 18, 1894 View File Details Page

Northern Pacific Railroad Depot in 1920

Northern Pacific Railroad Depot in 1920

Photo Courtesy of Washington State's Railroad Historical Society View File Details Page

Coxey Commonwealth Leave Camp in Pennsylvania, Spring 1894

Coxey Commonwealth Leave Camp in Pennsylvania, Spring 1894

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress View File Details Page

"More money! Less Misery! Good Roads!" Sterograph of Coxey's Army approaching Washington, D.C.

"More money! Less Misery! Good Roads!" Sterograph of Coxey's Army approaching Washington, D.C.

Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division View File Details Page

Spokane Weekly Review, April 26, 1894

Spokane Weekly Review, April 26, 1894

Source: Spokane Weekly Review, Apr 26, 1894 View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Renee Cebula, “The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot (Amtrak Station),” Spokane Historical, accessed May 30, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/239.
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