The Velox Naval Depot

Spokane’s Naval Supplier--Three Hundred Miles From The Shore.

Washington was an important location for the Navy during World War Two, with both its Pacific ports and its expensive rail network. The Velox Naval Supply Depot was a massive complex, designed to both store and move supplies to the coast when needed, and was placed so far inland to help protect it from potential attacks.

During the Second World War, Spokane, 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean, became a major naval supply point.

As the United States entered World War Two and began ramping up its military industry, it needed distribution centers for the supplies. The Velox Naval Supply Depot in what is now Spokane Valley was one such location. One of only two inland naval supply depots, the other being in Utah, Velox was chosen for several factors. Being over three hundred miles inland and on the opposite side of the Cascade Mountains, it was naturally defended against potential Japanese attacks. The location in the Spokane Valley area was remarkably flat with only ten feet variation in height across the yard, and it had access to the Northern Pacific and the Spokane International railroads.

Construction began on May 16th, 1942. The site was designed and constructed by the architectural firm Whitehouse & Price, who also oversaw the construction of the Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho. In June of 1942 Captain J. E. MacDonald, who was in command of the facility for two years, arrived on location with his entire staff of four naval officers and thirteen civilians, four men and nine women. As construction continued into the winter, there were no heating facilities finished and the few residents had to use improvised heat sources including an old threshing machine and a locomotive. Though the construction would continue for over a year, on January 1st, 1943 a formal commissioning took place with the mayor of Spokane, and the presidents of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

After construction was finished and Velox was in full service it was the 5th largest naval supply depot in the United States, employing over 2700 workers. Roughly 35% of its employees were women, many of them WAVES or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, including noted Spokane Valley Historian Ensign Florence Otto, later Florence Boutwell, who was the depot accounting officer. It supplied bases along the pacific coasts and even those out in the ocean itself with boxes filled with enough supplies to feed a thousand sailors for sixty days. not including food and each shipment weighed approximately 3,500 tons.

After the war, Velox continued to be in service up through the Korean War before being closed down in 1958. It was then sold to Washington Water Power Company, now called Avista, and converted into the Spokane Business and Industrial Park before being sold again to Crown West Realty, who still owns it now.