Daniel Chase Corbin, (1832-1918) was a mining and railroad magnet that helped bring growth and prosperity to Spokane and the inland northwest. Corbin was never a civic leader or known as a philanthropist. He was not popular with his community due to aloof demeanor. Regardless of these facts, his contribution to early Spokane Washington was unquestionable.
D.C. Corbin was born in Newport New Hampshire in 1832, the second of two sons. His older brother went on to graduate law school where Daniel Corbin did not go on to higher education. He left home at the age of 19 and headed west looking for opportunity to make his fortune. Corbin would ultimately have business ventures in banking, mining, real estate, agriculture and railroads. Most of what he did made him money.
In 1862 D.C. Corbin married Louisa M. Jackson and in 1863 they had their first child, a son named Austin Corbin II. Then they had a daughter, Louise who was born in 1966, followed by their second daughter, Mary in 1872.
Louisa Corbin's health deteriorated after the birth of their second daughter. Eventually she would be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and required a wheelchair.
During the 1870s, the mother and children resided in Europe while Daniel Corbin pursued his business affairs in Colorado, Montana and ultimately Spokane.
1885, Corbin became aware of opportunities in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District located in Idaho's Silver Valley. In 1886 he made arrangements with the Northern Pacific Railroad to run a line from Silver Valley to then Spokane Falls.
He began construction of two railroad lines and a steamship operation. The Spokane Falls & Idaho was a feeder for the Northern Pacific that ran from Spokane Falls to Coeur d'Alene. The Coeur d'Alene Railway & Navigation Company was a narrow gauge railroad that ran up the Coeur d'Alene River into the Silver Valley. They were connected by steamship.
The Railways and steamships were used to transport ore, goods, and passengers; funneling wealth from Idaho's "Silver Valley" into Spokane. In 1888, Corbin sold his Coeur d'Alene line to the Northern Pacific.
In 1889 Corbin moved and began a new railroad. The Spokane International Railway ran up through the northern Idaho panhandle and would ultimately connect with the Canadian Pacific at Eastport, Idaho.
D.C. Corbin's railroads and other ventures enabling great wealth to pour into Spokane Though Corbin was always very secretiveness about earnings he was often pointed out as Spokane's richest man.
Corbin's son Austin returned from Europe to his father and would be involved with his businesses. His daughters Louise and Mary would stay in Europe, Louise marrying an English lord. Mary had a brief and stormy marriage to Spokane's acclaimed architect Kirtland Cutter and then went on to marry a wealthy but untitled Englishman. Corbin and son Austin built mansions designed by Kirtland Cutter and they still stand today.
Corbin's wife Louisa died in England in 1900. Immediately upon her death, the three children sued their father for half of his estate, claiming as justification their mother's share under Washington community property law. Corbin countered that he was actually a resident of New York.
In 1907 Corbin married his Swedish housekeeper, Anna Louise Larson, She many years his junior. Corbin was ostracized by Spokane society, and even his relationship with Austin cooled. Upon his death in 1918, he left Anna his house and bonds, but no outright cash.
Written by:Todd Hays