In 1986 I was at the steam plant just before they shut down the last boiler and, along with a group of five or six of us- me, several dejected steamfitters, and Steve Blewett  (of WWP), we each, in turn, pulled the lanyard on a huge steam whistle, charged by that last boiler, as the dying bellow of that huge old machine just before they shut off the (by then gas) fire on the last boiler for good. It was great- the sound was so deep, loud and rich as to take your breath away and it bellowed and echoed all over town for twenty seconds after sounding the whistle. I am sure that everyone within a mile, at least, inside or out, heard the seven or eight times we fired that whistle and wondered what the heck was going on. At one time in Spokane's history that whistle was blew every day at noon and sent all of downtown on their lunch breaks. When I say "whistle"- this thing was three feet long and took two people to carry safely. It was beautiful- heavy brass and built like old stuff was- to last forever. It may be around there still. The steamfitters at the plant ran a steam line way across the room and out the window on the train deck, installed a 90º elbow, screwed on the whistle and valve, and gave it steam pressure. We had to stand on a ladder to reach the lanyard on the valve and it took all you had to pull it, unsteady as the ladder was. It wouldn't sound until we were almost hanging from the rope, forcefully letting off a huge cloud of steam with the raucous sound. I couldn't believe how it resonated and echoed off of various downtown buildings. And such a hearty organic sound. Like the old steamship whistles- real bass and very loud. A good memory except that I went in for hernia surgery at 8:00 am the very next morning! I was very happy to have this photo project to distract my thoughts that day. To learn more about the Steam Plant visit: http://www.steamplantspokane.com/history

spokane-commercial-photographer
spokane-commercial-photographer