But, popularity is fickle, and when the baseball craze hit the nation, it did not miss the northwest. Baseball replaced dancing as the "in" thing. Every town had a team and the local citizens enthusiastically supported their team.
Roads were still very crude and some trips were still made by boat, but wagons, boats, and early cars carried the cheering spectators to every game in the county. The newspapers carried detailed, play-by-play accounts of each game and for a while baseball became the excuse for social contact.
By its very nature, Soap Lake was destined to become a cosmopolitan town. People came from all over the world for the cure or to settle the new and promising land.
People who go to that much trouble to find something are generally adventuresome folk, and a lot of adventuresome folk thrown together in one place usually made for some wild times. Soap Lake had its share.
When it was first trying to be a real town, not just a buckaroo camp, the city officials became disgruntled with the buckaroos who continued to herd wild horses on the old trail through the middle of town. The old cayuse trail had to be moved, they said, because there was a town here now. The feud was not settled until after the town built a stockade and impounded stray horses and charged $l per head for their release.
Before they gave in to the march of civilization, the buckaroos sneaked into town by night and destroyed the corral several times in hopes of changing the minds of the town’s citizens.
Guns were finally outlawed in town because of the danger to swimmers caused by fun-seekers who sat on the shore and took pot shots at low flying birds over the water. The pistol packers were unhappy at being deprived of their evening entertainment, and argued that the birds were nuisances anyway.
Bathing suits were a problem, or rather the lack of them was a problem to some people. Staid townspeople kept a diligent watch, and the newspaper admonished people to "be more careful" about remembering to don a suit before taking a dip.
Prohibition brought Soap Lake its share of traffic in illegal liquor. The first telephone operator in town recalls what would have been a shoot-out in the telephone office, had not the wronged party neglected to carry his gun that day.
It seems that two men who had previously been involved in a business deal met there by chance. The seller had sold a truckload of five gallon drums of bootleg whiskey; but, the buyer had received a truckload of five gallon drums of water for his money. They had to settle their differences elsewhere when the operator called the sheriff.
And of course, there were the usual battles over lost love. One of these ended with the jilted lover standing on Main Street and blasting a shotgun through the house of his rival. The rival managed to dodge the pellets that flew through the front wall and out the back, but he had to receive medical treatment for wounds sustained from flying splinters.
Of the town characters in our history, E. Paul Janes left perhaps the most noticeable mark. He worked in real estate and may have been the only person to have to leave, rather than come to, Soap Lake for his health.
He had an office in Seattle, one in Ephrata, and one in Soap Lake in the building on Main Avenue which now houses The “Inn at Soap Lake” (formerly Thorson’s Soap Lake Products). It still has its unique rock quonset hut look.
He was a great promoter of the area; but unfortunately, the land he sold often was sight unseen and not quite as it was represented. He also sold stock in new companies he intended to start but never quite got around to starting them. The many lawsuits on record against him were settled out of court.
He seemed to have an affinity for buildings made of the round water-worn stones abounding in this area and built many of them which are still standing in Soap Lake today. The "rock castle" behind the post office was built in 1914 as his residence at a cost of $60,000.00.
Newspaper accounts of the fabulous house boasted that $2,000.00 of that cost went toward beveled glass for the built-in china cabinets. He did not enjoy the home for long, however. While on a business trip to the east coast he received an urgent telegram from an associate here, and left immediately for Europe, never to return.