From the rail beat: The railroad statistics compiled by The Spokesman-Review were truly astonishing: Every week, 630 passenger trains entered the city.
This meant that every day 38 steam passenger trains arrived in Spokane, along with 52 electric-line passenger trains, which were mostly local lines coming from nearby towns.
Spokane was the “converging point of six transcontinental lines, 10 branch roads and two electric systems.” The paper concluded that the city was “one of the greatest railway centers on the American continent.”
This is pretty amazing to me considering they had this huge regional train station 100 years ago and now the only time you can catch a passenger train in Spokane is at 2:00 in the morning.
I remember about 50 years ago when there were 4 transcontinental railroads in Spokane, the Great Northern, Union Pacific, the Milwaukee, and the Northern Pacific. We also had the Spokane International and Spokane Portland and Seattle. The depots they used downtown where busy with trains almost all day. Grade crossings all around town blocked cars, fire trucks, and ambulances and few people complained because the trains meant jobs.
I talked to a gentleman in Latah a while back who told me the same thing. Plus he said the trains would stop in the outlying areas to pick up people to come into Spokane. There wasn't a regular station though near Latah, the train would just stop out in the middle of nowhere and people wanting to get to town would get on. You could never have that kind of arrangement these days, or blocking emergency vehicles for that long. There would be a huge outcry.