Before asphalt roads and automobiles, local travel was very different than today. Light rail, often electrified interurban lines, connected many of the cities and towns of the Inland Northwest.
The Interurban Depot in Cheney was constructed in 1907, as a branch of the Washington Water Power’s interurban electric railroad system. The building was one of many outlying interurban depots that all connected to the hub in Spokane. The reason for its construction was due to the increase in travel between the two cities population and the pain staking planning one had to take if travel between two cities was going to take place. The electric railway increased and boosted the local economy due to its ability to not only transport passengers from Spokane to enjoy the many treats Cheney had to offer, but also provided the ability to transport freight.
The original layout of the depot building contained office space, a freight room for storing materials, and a waiting room for passengers to board the trolleys. The building also contained a basement level, within that space was a fruit storage area for perishable freight items that were either waiting pick up or delivery. Outside the depot were wood loading decks and platforms surrounding the building on three sides, thus providing more economic value and prosperity to the city of Cheney.
What happened to the electric railways and trolley rides? With the increase accessibility and rising dominance of the automobile in the 1920s, the interurban system was abandoned in 1922. The rail line paved over and the trolley cars sold or dismantled. With the abandonment of the interurban system, it gave rise to the passenger bus (transit system) route that began to use the Interurban Depot until 1939.
The building has seen its share of different owners and business ventures, with the current occupants being El Rodeo, a Mexican cuisine restaurant that attracts people of all ages. A big hit in a town full of college students.