Strange laws from 1903-1910 were still on books in 1958

June 6, 2012 

These are good for a chuckle. Makes you wonder what other laws we have accumulated since then that still are on the books.

Many 'Horse and Buggy' ordinances still on the books

Published on June 9, 1958
By Barry Hartman, Herald staff writer

In the "good old days" of 1903-1910, when folks used to keep up with the Joneses by buying a bigger looking horse, Kennewick was a town of few people, few streets, few buildings and few cars — but it had laws to burn.

Here's some of the laws of 1903-10 which should bring back a lot of memories to many:

It was unlawful for any horses, mules, cattle, swine and goats to run at large about the city's streets. It was required that they be accompanied by a human.

For those strange horseless carriage bugs, the City Council voted to chop down their speed within the city limits to 10-miles-per-hour. This was reduced to six-miles-per-hour whenever coming to a street crossing or making a turn. There were no restrictions on horses.

Pedestrian safety was considered vitally important to the City Council then. Therefore, it said, every auto, besides being required to have at least one white light in front and one red light in back, was to have a horn or some kind of noise maker. The ordinance prescribed that this was to be sounded before passing any street crossing. (Now we're more modernized. Everybody carries insurance.)

This one's still law even though it was put on the books July 6, 1909. And the chances are good that you'll still wind up in jail if you break it. Said the ordinance: "It is unlawful to graze cattle on the streets of Kennewick." (This law has taken on a rock 'n' roll luster today. It now includes one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eaters.)

This one is still on the books too. "It is unlawful to hitch a horse or other animal to a shade or any ornamental tree." Now they have torn down all the shade trees and substituted parking meters.

Children under 16 years of age were ordered to be off the streets and alleyways after 7 p.m. unless they were accompanied by a parent. (And to think they didn't even have television then.)

For one dollar, which was the purchase price of a dog license, a Kennewick resident took his dog's name off the record as being a public nuisance. (Even though he probably barked ten times as loud as the unlicensed mutt trying to get some sleep across the alley.)

Here's another that's still pulling time on the books. An ordinance drawn up June 4, 1907 proclaimed that no railroad car or locomotive could block a crossing longer than ten minutes.

It's not only still against Kennewick laws for anybody under 21 years of age to smoke, but the ordinance also prescribes that minors aren't even supposed to have cigarettes in their possession or any material for making them. (Now we just say, "Anybody who hasn't 30 cents to put into a vending machine can't smoke."

More laws meant more work for some people so the City Council, in one ordinance, voted to raise the City Clerk and City Attorney's salaries to $50 per month and the City Health Officer and the City Treasurer to $25 per month. (These were long before the days that coffee breaks were invented.)

And the laws also included the person who had tendencies of hoarding intoxicating beverages. Said the ordinance: "It is unlawful for any person to have in his possession at any one time over two quarts of alcoholic beverage other than beer or more than 12 quarts of beer. (Now, all we can do is plead with people not to drink that much at any one time.)

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