Deer Park, WA
Today began very rainy but cleared off in the late morning. So we decided to head south into Spokane to check out some of the sights.
Spokane Falls is the name of the series of waterfalls and dams on the Spokane River in downtown Spokane. The falls consists of an Upper Falls and a Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is the site of the Upper Falls Dam, a diversion dam constructed in 1920 that directs the water into the Upper Falls intake of the Upper Falls Power Plant on the south channel of the Spokane River.
The Lower Falls is the site of a second diversion dam, the Monroe Street Dam. Completed in 1890, it was the first dam built on the Spokane River and is currently the longest-running hydroelectric generation facility in Washington State.
The area surrounding the falls was the site of Expo 74, a World’s Fair that ran during most of 1974. After the fair the area was turned into Riverfront Park. The park has many activities such as the Riverfront Park Carousel, an IMAX theatre, clock tower, skyride over the falls, a small amusement park for kids, a skating rink during the winter months, and the Spokane River Centennial Trail which passes through it.
One of the sites is a giant red wagon. The wagon, called “The Childhood Express”, is an interactive sculpture created for the Centennial Celebration of Children in 1989. It’s made of steel and reinforced concrete and will hold as many as 300 people. There is a set of stairs in the back and the handle doubles as a slide. It’s a pretty cool piece of playground equipment.
The Clocktower on Havermale Island was originally part of the Great Northern Railroad Depot. Construction began in 1901 and finished in 1902. The depot was an impressive brick building 3 stories tall, with the monumental Clocktower standing in at 155 feet. During 1972 and 1973 the Great Northern Railroad Depot was demolished as Spokane made preparations for Expo’ 74 but the Clocktower was preserved. This 110 year-old “giant grandfather clock” is wound by hand once a week. The clockworks are housed in a small room behind the 4 clock faces. Each week, a technician climbs 5 stories to reach the clockworks. It takes 99 turns of the crank to rewind the clock. At the top of every hour, the clocktower can be heard throughout the park. The sound of the electronic chimes is amplified through speakers in the top of the tower.
The park is filled with a variety of interesting sculptures. One is “The Joy of Running Together. This corten steel sculpture depicts runners of all kinds. It celebrates the Spokane tradition of Bloomsday, the largest timed road running race in the world. One of the runners looks vaguely familiar (picture inspired by Paul Weaver).
The park and city streets close by feature nice circle maps that help you navigate the city.
Just to the east of the park is the campus of Gonzaga University. Gonzaga University is a private Roman Catholic university founded in 1887 by the Society of Jesus. It is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and is named after the young Jesuit saint, Aloysius Gonzaga. The school has an enrollment of over 4,700 undergraduates and almost 3,000 graduate students.
The most famous graduate of Gonzaga is singer/actor Bing Crosby.
Crosby grew up in a house his parents built at 508 East Sharpe Street, now part of the campus right next to the main entrance. The house is the office of the Alumni Association.
Gonzaga University has a respected academic reputation, but if you don’t live in Washington but have heard of it, the reason is probably basketball. The school, whose official mascot is the Bulldog and whose players are nicknamed the Zags, is part of the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference. Basketball games are held in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The men’s basketball team, which did not make its first appearance in the NCAA tournament until 1995 (more than a decade after NBA Hall of Fame player and Gonzaga alum John Stockton graduated), made the regional finals of the NCAA tournament (“Elite Eight”) in 1999, re-appearing in the tournament every year since. The Ladies basketball made it to the sweet sixteen in 2010.
We’ll be in the area for another week so we plan to see more of the city and the area during that time. More on that later . . .