Dutch Jake's Saloon

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Newcomers to this northwest of ours are often confused by the historical, social pattern that ixisted during the area's pioneer founding day. That confused picture can usually be cleared up, if it is remembered that for the white man, until the early 1880s the Spokane area was principally male populated area.

It follows that the early day Spokane county should have its count of pioneers who took to themselves Indian wives. "Squaw men" were common along the Spokane River ansd in the big bend of the Columbia. The resulting offspring of half and quarter breeds, was accepted as a natural part of the country's conversion from a wilderness.

It was the white fur traders and mountain men that first made popular the Spokane House of the Northwest Fur Company fuilt in the early 1800s and located a few miles downriver from the Indian fishing camp at Spokane Falls. Each fall the regions's white fur trappers and mountain men began gathering in winter camps near the Spokane House. The spot soon became a haven for those hardy nomad males in search of some comfort and companionship during the long winter months. The Spokane tribe Indian maidens were also noted for their attractive looks and forms, along with the visiting Indian girls form the neighboring Nez Perce and Flathead tribes.

Growth of Spokane Falls itself, from the recording of its squatter's claim in the summer of 1873 until its legal incorporating in 1881, was all a continuation of tis wintering appeal of the roving male populace. With the discovery of gold in the Coeurd'Alenes and in the Kootenai, as well as the mineral discoveries in the Colville region, the influx of miners, prospectors, ranch hands, lumberjacks and freight drivers, caused the population of Spokane county to zoom. It zoomed on the basis of a dozen or more males to every new arriving female, including in the count, the census of saloon girls, dance hall hussies and prosititutes migrating with the rush.

It is not surprising therefore, that with the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad into Spokane in 1881, the town quickly tood on the status of a young city. Streets and avenues were surveyed and residential additions plotted. Howard Street became the main thoroughfare with Pop Glover's General Store at the corner of Front and Howard, near the river, the town center.

New business buildings sprange up. As might be expected, saloons, gambling halls, and other types of night life catering establishments, soon dotted the town's main streets.

Shortly after, the best known individual in Spokane County was a portly built, heavily mustached, guttural voiced, jolly young German saloon and gambling hall owner, known to most every drifting cowhand, farmworker, lumberfack, miner and soldier trailing through the northwest frontier, as "Dutch Jake". He came to Spokane as a wealthy man after his big heartedness had led to the grubstaking of Noah Kellog the discoverer of the famous Bunker Hill Mine near Kellog. Jake's share was $200,000. Jake invested this in building a huge saloon. The new four story building was to house Jake's dream venture of a recreation center and gambling casino that in furnishing and operation would challenge any such establishment in the west. With the building venture, Jake began to capitalize on is own popularity and eccentric reputation. Dutch Jake's main motto was, "No matter what happens, just keep going".

When the great fire of 1889 destroyed his dream, he erected a large circus tent, and was back in business in days and earned enough to rebuild the original building.

Dutch Jake was the biggest hearted Dutchman in the world some said, and he was as honest as the day is long.

Copyright © 1972 by Jay J. Kalez