By Dick Jensen
Tornado Creek Publications
Paperback, 150 pages,
218 photos and illustrations, index
Spokane set in Stone presents a good dose of local history through a unique perspective: historical monuments. This guidebook invites the reader to take a virtual field trip to some of the most interesting, culturally rich historical markers in and around Spokane.
As a child on long car trips, I often would see "historical marker ahead" signs scattered along the roadway and wonder what happened there, who it happened to, and why. As an adult, I've stopped by to satisfy my childhood curiosity, but have often found it to be a tedious task to stand and read the inscriptions. Author Dick Jensen and his team provide the reader with a catalog of historical monuments that includes a picture and a painstakingly recorded transcription of the text etched into the stones.
The guide is categorized by location; north, south, east, and west side monuments along with additional monuments within Spokane city limits, riverfront park monuments, and Gonzaga University Campus monuments. Each chapter includes an easy-to-read map hand-drawn by the author to each area with each monument numbered and located.
The guidebook can easily be flipped through to find a picture that interests the reader, or it can be read cover to cover. Jensen's notes provide the reader with additional information regarding when monuments were erected and who was responsible for putting them up. He also provides explanations for missing markers, such as fire.
The transcriptions of the etchings on the monuments provide the reader with an easy to read guide to important local historical markers. I found it helpful while reading the transcriptions to be able to glance over at the picture to get a better sense of the significance of each monument, such as the Spanish American War Cannon (p. 50), the Tsutakawa Pagoda monument (p. 75), and the “From the Earth” monument, put in place to remind people of their dependence on earth’s natural resources.
Some of my favorite discoveries are not to be missed. They include the unusual “Place where Ghosts of Salmon Jump” (p. 99), the impressive listing of names at the law enforcement officers memorial (p. 33), the harrowing tale of PFC Joe E. Mann and how he gave his life for others, or the story of Mary Archard Latham. She was an incredible woman who was the first female physician in Spokane (and possibly Washington) specializing in diseases affecting women and children and helping found the Spokane Humane Society and Spokane Public Library. Yet she was honored on her headstone only as Edward Latham’s wife (p. 45).
Historical markers are important monuments to our society; they are the tangible reminders of what we value and find significant as a people. This guide serves as a practical tool both for folks unable to physically visit one of these sites and for the history buff that looks forward to a visit. Everyone in the area will benefit from learning about the people and events that have shaped our area by reading Spokane Set in Stone.
By Katie Scifres, March 4, 2010