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US 395, Part 27: Spokane (BR 90/Old US 10/Old US 2/Old US 395; Old US 195)

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Go to: Part 26 | Main 395 page | Part 28

Unlike most contrasting alignments where I choose to do the older one first, I've chosen to do old US 395 through Spokane last because it hooks up directly with its modern routing at the end.

[The three US 95 spurs, 1926.] As initially signed (shown here in this 1926 planning map), US 395 was part of three US 95 spurs, US 95 being a comparatively insignificant highway in those days between Weiser, ID and the Canadian border. Of the three, US 395 was the only route that went to the border; US 195 ran between Sandpoint, ID and Lewiston, ID for a total of 186 miles; and US 295, the shortest of the spurs, ran between Dodge, WA and Colfax, WA for a total course of only 45. US 295 was the obvious target for destruction due to its small length and existing only within Washington state; it was decommissioned in 1968 and replaced by WA 26 from Colfax to Dusty, and then WA 127 from Dusty to Dodge. US 195 was also ripe for dismemberment as its routing between Spokane, WA and Sandpoint, ID was co-routed with the much longer US 2 (US 2 having taken over most of Alternate US 10 by this time; see Part 25 for the history of US 10 ALT and a map showing ALT US 10 routed with US 195). Fortunately, the fact it had a small stub in Idaho along its routing south of Spokane saved it from complete elimination; instead, it was cut down in 1969 to Spokane, but kept its southern terminus in Lewiston for a modern length of (amusingly) 95 miles. It maintains a spur, a former alignment of US 95, in Uniontown, WA -- although only 2 miles long, it is a legitimately recognized spur and is signed US 195 SPUR to the present day.

Interestingly, as did the bike route in Carson City and Part 11, the bike routes in Spokane in general tell the tale about the old alignments. In fact, bike route 195 is still routed on part of the old US 195 alignment, farther north than actual US 195 goes! We will use the bike routes frequently as clues to the former routings involved. There is some evidence to suggest that fr a very brief period after Interstate 90 was constructed US 195 was carried along the freeway (as I-90/US 2/US 195/US 395), but this persisted only a year or two at most (if at all) until US 195 was eviscerated.


[Spokane metro map, 1966] US 395's earliest routing in Spokane does not start until the next Part. Once extended in 1934-8, its routing went roughly like this: [US 10 junction, 1938] up north more or less along present-day Geiger Blvd, joining then-US 10 (original junction shown in the 1938 left inset, later becoming US 10A, now US 2) to become modern Sunset Blvd, and crossing into the city over the stupendous High Bridge and the Hangman Creek. The routing along which US 395 approached US 10/US 10A/US 2 had at least two phases, both of which we will examine; we will also spend some time photographing the landmark High Bridge which is still well-preserved today.

Once over the river gorge, the routing joined with US 195 and proceeded into downtown along what is now W 3rd Ave; around 1951 3rd became EB only and W 2nd was added as the WB alignment. Now co-signed with both routes, US 395 and US 195 (and now US 2) then headed north on Division St, an alignment which we will explore shortly. Again, note that this was not its very earliest routing in Spokane, but we'll save that for the next Part. The thumbnail inset at right shows this routing in Spokane, from 1966 before the completion of I-90; click the inset for a 109K complete view of the Spokane metropolitan area. All of old US 395's routing that was co-signed with US 10 (and subsequently US 2) is now Business Route 90.

As for US 10, it originally diverged north on modern Sherman St to Sprague Avenue, and left the city EB. There is some controversy over when US 10 ultimately moved to Sprague Avenue completely but after 2nd and 3rd Avenues were converted to one-way streets in 1951, a new connector, Sprague Way, was built to handle the transitions to and from Sprague Avenue and the old routing was definitely decommissioned. With the construction of the Spokane Valley Fwy ca. 1958, US 10 was shifted south to the freeway. This is also shown in the full map view. Present-day BR 90 continues to approximate the old route, including along Sprague Avenue, becoming E Appleway Ave before finally intersecting I-90 on the east end of the valley.


Now, getting back to our old alignment fork. We rewind back to Exit 272 and take the WA 902 exit to this point and hang a left.

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Immediately afterwards, we turn right onto what is now presently signed Geiger Blvd.

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At the turn-off for Fairchild AFB and Spokane International Airport, we come to the first of our forks for this section, the original 1930s routing of US 395 up to then-US 10 (which, as you know, later became ALT US 10 and is now US 2). This routing persisted until around 1945 when the later Sunset Highway interchange was built, which we'll look at in the second fork. For right now, we turn left onto modern Hayford Rd.

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Fork 1: Old US 395 via Airway Heights (Hayford Rd, US 2)

Turning left onto Hayford Rd.

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NB Hayford Rd, heading more or less due north towards US 2 and the eastern side of Airway Heights.

Recall from Part 26 that around this same time US 395 proceeded nearly due north out of Cheney, which the map inset on this page also shows. Most of this route is lost, and what remains has been overrun by I-90, but S Hayford Rd south of here on the other side of the freeway is part of this old routing along with some other short minor and dirt roads south of that leading back to WA 904.

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Even this surviving routing has undergone later realignment, as there is an obvious jog east along the road.

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Approaching US 2 (old US 10 and US 10A). Old US 395 just skirts the eastern side of Airway Heights, named for its close proximity to both Spokane International Airport and Fairchild Air Force Base, with a population of 4,500 [2000]. For its part, Fairchild AFB takes its name from the late Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, a native of Bellingham. It was established in 1942 and houses the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, dubbed "the tanker hub of the Northwest," which flies KC-135R Stratotankers and the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter. At one time Fairchild AFB was a major nuclear weapons depot, carrying some 85 nuclear gravity bombs until they were gradually removed from the base in the 1990s.

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Junction US 2, which was having its sidewalks torn up that day. We turn right and east towards Spokane.

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EB US 2 (old US 10/US 395 [old US 10A/US 395, old US 2/US 395]).

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We don't have long to linger on US 2, as less than a mile later we encounter signage for Business Route 90, which is what we will be following into downtown Spokane.

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Exit Business 90. US 2 continues down as a freeway to Interstate 90, which you saw in Part 26. We exit US 2 ...

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... flagged by a bike route sign (notice the tiny shield! how CUTE!) which we will talk about in a moment ...

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... and turn left to become the old Sunset Highway alignment.

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EB Sunset Highway.

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Garbage in, ... well, you know.

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Coming down the hill into Spokane, we see something merging with us from the right. Let's rewind back to the beginning of that "something."

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Fork 2: Old US 10/US 395 via Geiger Blvd

The modern alignment of Geiger Blvd between WA 902 and BR 90 is not the original US 10/US 395; most of that is under the Interstate and this later realignment built as frontage road for the freeway. However, it approximates the look and feel of the old road and provides a nice approach into the true old alignment, so we'll use it.

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Junction and transformation into Business Route 90, as indicated by the washed-out Interstate 90 banner and signage (just a badly washed-out blue, not white). Note how the Interstate shield is not a cutout.

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Another brush with the bike routes, and yes, these bike routes are not only numbered, but they have Interstate and US route shields too! These will be exceptionally helpful to us here also, as they are again routed on the old surface street alignments of our proband highways; with the exception of the formerly co-routed portions of US 10/US 395, which is shown as BikeRt I-90, all the previous US highways have their old non-freeway alignments now maintained with a corresponding "US bike route." This will be particularly relevant for US 195, too.

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Our road surface abruptly gets a little older now that we're on the true old alignment.

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Passing underneath modern US 2.

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Coming up to the old Sunset Highway that we descended on in Fork 1. The routes merge at this point; old US 2 is brought in by the bridge dead ahead and we curve to merge with it. This small interchange was the US 2/US 10/US 395 intersection until 1967.

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Still signed as the Sunset Hwy.

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Looking back at the old US 2 junction, this time facing WB. Old US 10 and old US 395 exit to the left, signed as TO I-90 (to "Gieger Field" [sic]), and old US 2 ("old old" US 10, US 10 ALT) continued west.

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Note the bike route signs on the right in the previous photograph, enlarged here. The bike routes agree with our surmised prior alignments, which is gratifying.

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Just for proof this is old US 2, note the old signage in the background of the junction, enlarged here.

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Continuing EB on Geiger Blvd. BikeRt US 2 comes along with us.

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Past the merge in the last picture, Geiger Blvd becomes Sunset Blvd and continues the Sunset Hwy alignment. Sunset Highway was built sometime in the 1930s between the old US 10 junction (later ALT US 10 and now US 2) we just passed and the High Bridge to replace the old and very narrow route that first existed in that area.

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Speed limit 25, except arterials 30, speed limit 40. Makes perfect sense. I think I'll just drive 25.

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[US 2/US 395 expressway, 1960, 128K.] Descending into Spokane from Sunset Hill. Compare this with the postcard view at right from 1960 of the US 2/US 395 expressway, in my archives; click the thumbnail for a 128K high-resolution view.

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Into the Hangman Creek gorge for the High Bridge crossing.

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Still hanging onto our BikeRt I-90/BikeRt US 2 designations.

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Coming around to the High Bridge. Now you can see where we were in Part 26; the Hangman Creek crossing of modern I-90/US 2/US 395 is the lower bridge in the background, and a railway bridge runs on the highest of the three perches.

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I liked the digital sign in Cheney better.

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Looking behind as we prepare to cross, we see Sunset Blvd is signed as "TO US 2."

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The High Bridge itself. Don't ask how this shot was taken; it will probably invalidate my medical insurance. Hangman Creek is also sometimes called Latah Creek, and for that reason the bridge is unimaginately also referred to as the Latah Creek Bridge. Built in 1911, it was part of US 10 during the first designation of Federal highways in 1926. Its seven arches span 1,070' at a height of approximately 135'.

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Looking at the superstructure. Like the Monroe Street bridge we will see in Part 28, the High Bridge/Latah Creek Bridge is due for renovation; a $19 million project is in the works, part of which is evidenced by the steel superstructure spikes driven in for extrinsic support. This Spokane Online Journal of Business article asserts this was to have been completed by September 2005, but since this picture was taken in October ...

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An even better view is afforded us from the sides of the creek gorge; here the Creek itself can be seen clearly, as well as all three crossings (the modern Interstate crossing being the most distant and the High Bridge closest, with the railway bridge highest). This is probably my favourite view of Spokane, next to the Falls (in Part 28). Latah means "fish" in Spokan, so the derivation of that name is obvious; the Hangman title refers to a local massacre in which a total of at least twenty-seven Palouse Indians were hanged in retaliation for the defeat of Army forces under Colonel Edward Steptoe near Fort Colville in the spring of 1858. Steptoe's mission was not openly hostile, but the Indians took no chances and caused heavy losses to his regiment; by that summer, 600 additional troops under the command of Colonel George Wright came in for revenge in what would become the Coeur d'Alene War. Wright prevailed in multiple skirmishes with the Coeur d'Alene, Spokan and Palouse Indians and captured many of the Palouse Indians' horses, slaughtering nearly seven hundred of them in a grisly two-day spasm of butchery. While the Spokan and Coeur d'Alene Indians capitulated, the Palouse held out and a Palouse chief named Qualchan came into the camp in September to negotiate with Wright, not knowing that Wright held his father hostage. Qualchan was seized and hanged when Wright found out his role in the battles, as well as the fact he had been involved in attacks in Yakima; as more of the Palouse were identified, Wright duly had them hanged as enemy combatants as well until his bloodlust was satisfied -- including several Indians who may have had nothing to do with any of the hostilities at all -- and as for Qualchan's father, Wright shot him when he tried to escape. The local golf course is named for the hanged chief, and the creek is named for Wright's revenge in kind. In 1997, the county wanted to expunge the bloody history from the name of the Creek (hence the persistence of the old name Latah), but the US Board of Geographic Names refused and the name is still officially the Hangman Creek. This history page at EWU discusses many of the local Indian campaigns and treaties; Spokane Outdoors talks a little about the creek itself and how Wright prevailed.

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View off the bridge and some of the Interstate gantries.

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Another view of the gorge taken in a fashion I refuse to relate.

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Looking at the creek below.

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Northward towards the hills as we cross the bridge.

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Coming to the end of the High Street/Latah Creek Bridge.

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Junction of Inland Empire Way with Sunset Blvd. This is old US 195, built as part of the Spokane South Entrance project between 1934 and 1936 (the bridge here carrying a date of 1936); US 195 was routed along Inland Empire Way and entered Spokane through this junction until the construction of the 4-lane Inland Empire Hwy realignment to future I-90 in 1963. Between the 1963 realignment and the completion of I-90, the connector is a little unclear but probably followed a now obliterated alignment approximated by Lindeke St up to Sunset Blvd to join the highway. We continue ahead now as old US 2/old US 10/old US 195 and old US 395 (!).

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Entering town under the railway tracks. At this point, Sunset Blvd starts to split into 3rd Ave to carry the EB alignment and 2nd Ave to carry WB.

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Notice how US 195 is now marked on the bike route sign, now that the old routing has joined us.

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Downtown Spokane on EB 3rd Ave old US 2/old US 10/old US 195/old US 395.

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3rd and Monroe. The modern junction of 3rd Ave and Monroe St is approximately the location of US 395's oldest and original southern terminus during its orignal signage in 1926. More about that in Part 28.

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Continuing east through old Spokane.

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Advance signage for the real US 2/US 395 routing ahead on Division St.

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BikeRt "US 395" now starts to appear coming up on Division St as BikeRt "I-90" takes over the old US 10 routing. Yes, that's a very well-trained kitten in that girl's hood at lower right.

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Looking south down Browne St, carrying the southbound lanes of US 2 and US 395 back to I-90 just before Division St.

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Junction Division St and EB US 2/NB US 395. Note how BR 90, which continues on straight, still has Coeur d'Alene, ID as its "control city" as US 10 would have. We turn left to rejoin the modern routing.

Continue to Part 28

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