SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Salem in 1898

World Events
  • "Remember the Maine!" is the rallying call in the Hearst newspapers as America declares war with Spain over Cuba.
  • Henry James publishes "Turn of the Screw."
  • Marie Curie discovers radium.
In Salem
Our entrance into a war with Spain over their possessions in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands still effects national policy and world opinion. Here is a parade of local troops, perhaps the Oregon Second Company of Volunteers, proceeding west on State Street.
Paving the streets of Salem will not begin until 1907, so we hope these marchers had the advantage of a day without rain. Spectators have not ducked under the generous store awning, but mist diffuses the signs and store fronts. In the background (behind the flag) we see a streetcar, but beyond that the other landmarks are lost. We can just make out the old Marion County Courthouse rising a block away.
On a sunnier day, the troops lined up in front of the State House. They are dressed in full and hats, bedrolls over their shoulders and rifles held at their sides. Three company officers are standing in front of their troop.
One imagines this is their last formal photograph before they leave Salem. This is from the Cronise studio and reflects the outstanding artistic quality of Thomas Cronise photography.

When you visit
The State Street store on the corner (where Dr. Pearce's Favorite is advertised) was replaced by the Masonic Temple a few years later. Today, more than architecture has changed on State Street. Beginning in 1907, our downtown streets became paved. The streetcars disappeared in 1927, replaced buses. The automobile was firmly established by that time. Today, a horse would have a difficult time maneuvering in our downtown traffic. American troops, leaving for an overseas war no longer parade on State Street.

Other events
  • Charles A. Bishop, one of Salem's outstanding citizens and prominent businessmen, becomes mayor and will serve 4 years. His wife Fannie, is the daughter of Thomas Kay, local woolen mill owner of that time. Mr. Bishop was the owner of a successful men's clothing store. He was a founder and served as Vice President of the Pendleton Woolen Mill, still operating successfully. Their imposing home was at 765 Court Street, the former residence of the Murphy and Rose families.

  • The photograph above, taken this year, shows the facade of the Capitol Brewery at 174 Commercial Street. The brewery is located in a handsome, two-story stone building. Two wagons in the street are for ice delivery and transport of barrels. On the sidewalk are a group of men, perhaps employees, posing for the photographer. Perhaps a few are just passers-by, enjoying the moment. The Salem Convention Center occupies this site today.
  • The original Territorial Library, housed in the State House, is damaged when a storm blows off part of the roof. A stereoscopic view is found in the Oregon Historical Photographs Collections. These books and documents are now housed primarily in the State Law Library.
  • Among the many stern-wheelers using Salem's Willamette River piers, is the Altona. These steamboats transported flour from the Willamette Flouring Mill on Front Street. The boat dock just north was always busy as inland farm crops were loaded for export. By this year, steamboats at the foot of Trade Street were graced by affectionate names such as Ramona, Gypsy, and Ruth.
    Steamboats were also enjoying the attention of Salem citizens as they took excursions to Albany and Corvallis. In 1885, a gingerbread-decorated City of Salem entertained riders with music from the local Masonic Band. However, the Altona was part of a vanishing fleet. By 1898 Salem was moving east, away from the river as the railroad supplied the transportation need of the farm co-ops and fruit processors.
From the Capitol Journal:
About a hundred and fifty persons marched in the T. T. Geer ratification jubilee from the Willamette Hotel to Reed's Opera House. Several American flags floated in the breeze, but the effect was made somewhat ridiculous by the number of banners extolling Ko-Da, "It drives out rheumatism" and Mexican Worm Lozenges, "They are the best."
The newspaper complained that the habit of spitting on downtown sidewalks had become universal among residents of Salem. This was a filthy habit which no gentleman would be found guilty of. There were sections of Salem's business district, the paper said, completely covered with tobacco spit making it impossible for ladies to pass over those walks without having their skirts saturated.
In May, a memorial service for brave sailors who went down with the Maine in Havana harbor the previous February was held at the First Methodist Church. A large picture of the Maine, draped in crepe, was displayed above the altar.
(See Ben Maxwell's Salem, Oregon, edited by Scott McArthur, 2006.

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