Spokane History Timeline

The Spokane Central Steam Plant - 1907

The Spokane Central Steam Plant was built in 1907, a hundred years ago. Merchants Central Heating Company built it, but then it went out of business, and was sold to the Washington Water Power Company (WWP). The Steam Plant was built to heat and supply power to homes and businesses around the downtown area. It supplied power by steam pressure into a turbine engine and it supplied heat by putting enormous pipes underground that would go from house to house, building to building, for the hot steam to run through.

Building the Steam Plant



The Steam Plant was built from bottom to top because the twin smokestacks sit 15 feet below street level. It was located next to the railroad for easy delivery of coal and later oil. It is most recognized by the twin smokestacks that tower 225 feet. It is located between Post St. and Lincoln St.


Steam Plant Boiler

The Steam Plant used many different fuels during its period of operation. The fuels the company used were coal, oil, wood, natural gas, and electricity. The two major problems it had were oil spills and leaky pipes. The oil spills were very dangerous because the Steam Plant was built right above the aquifer and almost got contaminated. There was no contamination but people still think the oil is down there. The problem with the leaking was, it would cost a lot of money to fix.

The last fuel they used was electricity, which was too expensive, and put the steam plant out of business.




Photos used with permission from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/ Eastern Washington State Historical Society.
L94-23.8 = building steam plant
L94-23.25 = boiler

copyright (c) 2007, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Report created May, 2007.
Revised: August 25, 2007; 10/4/2009
Last Modified on August 1, 2011