By Jill Evans, Administrator of the Stumptown Historical Society
By 1910, after five years as an incorporated town, Whitefish had 1479 people, a business district primarily along Central Avenue and Second Street, a water system, a light and power plant, telephones, some wooden sidewalks and a couple of crosswalks, some graded streets, some filled gullies. Sewers were under discussion, though not yet approved.
The parking problem on Central Avenue had been discussed. “How can hitching of horses on Central Avenue be discourages?” Progress, improvement, beautification were the style, for the first time citizens were sure that their town had a future, and they were in the mood to build for permanency. By March, 1911, the council would have adopted a resolution making Whitefish “a city of the third class,” i.e. over 1,000 population.
The year 1910 is worth special attention. In that year Whitefish, in a sense, became “modern,” or at least established the directions in which future development and a glorious future, and a willingness to work for what lay ahead. Lawns were planted and trees brought in from the woods and from “outside.” H.T. Mayfield became mayor and a very active mayor he was.
Because this is, then, a critical year, week-by-week notes from the files of the Whitefish Pilot seem in order. They give both the major events of the year and the “flavor” of the period.
A non-advertiser known to have been in operation at this time was the Club Bo9wling Alleys, Deeringer and Coffey, proprietors. The Whitefish Steam Laundry, George Midzutani proprietor, was about to start operation, but had not yet opened.
Headlines, items, and stories from the Whitefish Pilots of 1910 follow, together with further information on such stories as the forest fires of 1910, Carrie Nation’s visit to Whitefish, and the general interest in Halley’s comet.
“lst National Bank to Erect New Building-Stability of Town Firmly Established-Biggest Roost Whitefish Ever Had-Substantial 2-storey Brick ‘Building-Architect Riffo of Kalispell.”
The Somers Lumber Company lets contracts for 8 to 9 million feet of logs before spring.
There is a complete new heating plant for the roundhouse.
Two companies are making plans for electric railway lines. One is the Whitefish and Polson Electric Railway Company. (For over two years, this company proceeded to survey, plan, finance, even hire workers for an interurban service between Polson and Whitefish. There was considerable excitement about it, as it was considered a big step forward for Whitefish to be the north terminal of such a line. But the reader knows what happened nationwide to electric interurbans! The second company never got very far even with its plans.)
J.H. McCabe prominent businessman and long-time citizen of Whitefish moved to Spokane. He had already sold his store to Jaqueth and Johns.
Enginemen will no longer have seniority rights outside their own divisions.
Destructive land and snow slides owing to warm weather and rains are occurring along the Great Northern. There is much resulting loss of property and demoralized traffic over the entire system. Two slides at Highgate (near the Summit) resulted in deaths. In the first, four men are buried in the snow, and only two get out alive. The second slide kills a third man. There are also serious slides at Paola and Highland.
Whitefish loses both its popular band director, A.P. Sheridan, and its fine violinist, Dennis Kelley. Both move away.
E.M. Hutchinson, Whitefish representative in the last legislature in Helena, is to run for the Senate.
At the Chamber of Commerce meeting, urgent need for sewers tables the lesser need for a library.
Mrs. Jemima Duncan announces that she plans to build a new brick building on Second Street.
Conductor Ollie Fisher is “blown from his train at Midvale.” He is in the hospital, but is doing all right.
Brakeman McKenzie has to jump from a coal chute during the blizzard at Browning. He was pulling some cars on the chute. He was bruised badly, but fortunately not killed.
L.W. Hill, GN President, announces plans for establishing experimental farms.
See more of their story in the Whitefish museum, located in the Train Depot.
Note: The quoted material is taken from Stump Town to Ski Town, by Betty Schafer and Mable Engelter, written in 1972 and reprinted by the Stumptown Historical Society in 2003. It is available for sale in the Whitefish Museum located in the Train Depot.