President Abraham Lincoln signs an Act of Congress creating Northern Pacific
Railroad and authorizing construction of the first of the northern
transcontinental railroad and telegraph lines between Lake Superior and Puget
Sound, July 2. Act provides for right of way and land grant. First Board
meeting is held, September 1. Josiah Perham is elected President, December 7.
John Gregory Smith succeeds Perham, January 5. Congress extends the time
required for commencing and completing construction.
Subsidiary Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad (incorporated in 1857 as
Nebraska and Lake Superior) begins construction. General George Washington
Cass, Jr., and William G. Fargo are elected to Board. Edwin F. Johnson is named
Chief Engineer, begins surveys of line.
Operations begin between St. Paul and Wyoming, Minn., December 23. Congress
again extends time to begin construction.
Congress consents to give NP authority to "Issue its bonds and secure the
same by mortgage." Jay Cooke becomes NP's fiscal agent.
Groundbreaking ceremonies are held at Thompson Junction, Minn., the junction of
Northern Pacific and Lake Superior and Mississippi lines 25 miles west of
Duluth, on February 15. Jay Cooke and Co. begin selling Northern Pacific 7-30
gold bonds, July 1. Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad opens, August 23.
Grading and track laying are begun at both ends of system in June. Lake
Superior and Mississippi drives last spike on 155 mile line between St. Paul
and Duluth. First locomotives (Minnetonka, Itaska, Ottertail and St. Cloud) and
rolling stock purchased.
NP completes 230 miles of line between Lake Superior and Mississippi Junction
and Moorhead, Minn., on the Red River, plus 25 miles of line on North Pacific
Coast. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock orders out 600 troops to protect
survey parties in hostile Indian country. Brainerd, Minn., shops are
Freight contract is signed with Hudson's Bay Company. Chief Engineer reports
completion of 164 miles of main line into Dakota Territory and 45 additional
miles on coastal line. Colonization offices are opened in Europe. Frederick
Billings is named Managing Director of Land Department. President Smith warns
U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant that hostile Indians are impeding construction.
General George Cass succeeds Smith as President, Nowember 1. Lake Superior and
Tacoma, Washington Territory, is named as Northern Pacificís western terminus,
July 14. Northern Pacific line is completed to the Missouri River, June 4. Jay
Cooke's firm collapses September 18; Northern Pacific slides into bankruptcy.
Coastal line from Kalama to Tacoma, 110 miles, is completed, first train
reaches Tacoma December 16.
Charles Barstow Wright is elected President as General Cass resigns to become
receiver of the company, June 30. Northern Pacific sold at auction to committee
of bondholders, April 23. Reorganization plan, formulated by Frederick
Billings, is put into effect. General Custer is assigned to Fort Rice, Dakota
Territory, and provides protection for Northern Pacific survey and construction
Operations begin between Seattle and Black River (Tukwilla) Washington
Territory, January 8.
Northern Pacific employs mining engineer to open company's coal fields in
Washington Territory; beginning of Geology Division. Shops are established at
Edison, near Tacoma, Washington Territory.
Subsidiary Little Falls and Dakota Railroad incorporated January 29. Frederick
Billings succeeds to presidency, May 24. Contract is let for building first 100
miles of line west of Missouri river. Foreign immigration program in Europe
Operations begin between Wyoming and Taylor Falls, Minn., November 8. Northern
Pacific Express Co. begins operations in Minnesota and Dakota. Broad program of
branch line construction instituted.
Henry Villard raises millions with famous blind pool to create Oregon and Transcontinental
Company and secretly gains control of the Northern Pacific. Frederick Billings
resigns presidency, June 9. A. H. Barney becomes president from June 9 to
September 15. Henry Villard is elected to the presidency, September 15. Line
reaches Sandpoint, Idaho Territory, from the western end and Horton, Montana
Territory, from eastern. One hundred and ten miles of branch line are
Northern Pacific Beneficial Association is founded under General Herman Haupt,
August 19. Bridge over Missouri River at Bismarck, Dakota Territory, opens
October 21. Operations begin between Wadena Junction and Fergus Falls, Minn.,
October 10. Three hundred and sixty miles of main line and 368 miles of branch
line are completed, bringing totals to 1,347 and 731 miles, respectively. First
dining car is purchased.
First service to Livingston, Montana Territory, begins January 15. Temporary
line over Bozeman Pass opens, March 9. Land purchased for Como Shops in Minn.,
March 17. Operations begin between Lisbon and LaMoure, Dakota Territory, August
25. Last Spike is driven as main line is completed in grand celebration at Gold
Creek, Montana Territory, September 8. First transcontinental train arrives
Portland, Ore., September 11. Mullan Tunnel completed between Helena and
Missoula, Mont., November 1. Through passenger service is begun with Pacific
Express (westbound) and Atlantic Express (eastbound).
Henry Villard ousted as President effective January 4, remains on Northern
Pacific Board, Robert Harris becomes President. Bozeman Tunnel between
Livingston and Bozeman, Montana Territory completed, January 16. Operations
begin between Rush City and Grantsburg, Minn., January 24. Snake River Bridge
opens, April 20. First train from Livingston to Gardiner, Montana Territory run
to Yellowstone Park, June 29. Transfer boat Tacoma delivered for Kalama,
Washington Territory to Oregon transfer service, July 21. First transfer of
train by steam boat at Kalama, Washington Territory, October 9. Stampede Pass
chosen as route across Cascade Mountains, November 21.
Construction begun on east portal of Stampede Tunnel at Martin, Washington
Territory, February 13. Future subsidiary Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern
Railroad incorporated, April 28. Operations begin between Duluth, Minn., and
West Superior, Wis., July 6. Operations begin between New Rockford and
Minnewaukan, Dakota Territory, August 6. Operations begin between Jamestown and
LaMoure, Dakota Territory, December 14. Construction is completed to eastern
extremity of the Northern Pacific system, Ashland, Wis.
Northern Pacific and Union Pacific jointly organize Montana Union Railway, June
28. Utah and Northern tracks standard gauged for Northern Pacific trains,
August 1. Operations begin between Marshall and Belmont, Washington Territory,
October 5. Spokane Falls and Idaho Railroad opens to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Territory, October 24. Operations begin between Ellensburg and Cle Elum,
Washington Territory, December 20. Roslyn Branch opens, December 21.
Last spike driven on Stampede Pass switchback, June 1. Operations begin between
Winnipeg Junction and Pembria, Dakota Territory, October 7. Operations begin
between Fairview and Grand Bend, Dakota Territory, October 19. Operations begin
between Drummond and Philipsburg, Montana Territory, November 20.
East and west crews break through in Stampede Tunnel, May 3. First train runs
through Stampede Tunnel, May 27. Operations begin between Woodinville and Falls
City, Washington Territory, on Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, May 19.
Columbia River Bridge opens at Pasco, Washington Territory, April 13.
Operations begin between Logan and Pipestone, Montana Territory, June 14.
Operations begin between Woodinville and Snohomish, Washington Territory, on Seattle,
Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, July 3. Thomas Fletcher Oakes succeeds Harris
as president, September 20. First train between Spokane Falls and Medical Lake,
Washington Territory, November 27. Introduction of the use of copper wire and
quadruplex circuits in telegraph service.
The Northern Pacific receives F-1 Class steam engine No. 460, Baldwin
Locomotive Works' 10,000th locomotive, April 15. Operations begin between
Crocker and Wingate, Wash., May 6. Operations begin between Little Falls and Staples,
Minn., November 24.
Subsidiary Tacoma, Olympia and Grays Harbor Railroad incorporated, May 7.
Subsidiary United Railroads of Washington incorporated, August 2. Operations
begin between Belmont and Farmington, Wash., December 10. Right-of-Way and
Lease Department is created and industrial development begins.
Operations begin between Gate and Lacey, Wash., August 10.
Operations begin between Montesano and Ocosta, Wash., June 6. Subsidiary
Washington and Columbia River Railway incorporated, September 23.
Adoption of the Monad as trademark. Oakes becomes receiver as the Northern
Pacific slips into second bankruptcy, Brayton C. Ives becomes president,
Fire at Sprague, Wash., destroys Northern Pacific shops and town, August 3.
Reorganized to become Northern Pacific Railway, March 16. Seattle, Lake Shore
and Eastern Railroad sold to Northern Pacific at foreclosure sale, June 19.
Edward D. Adams becomes president as Northern Pacific begins to come out of
receivership, July 1 to July 21. Edwin W. Winter takes over presidency, July
21. John Pierpont Morgan and Company become financial agents; Morgan heads
voting trust; James Jerome Hill, founder of the rival Great Northern Railway,
gains tentative interest in the Northern Pacific.
Coeur d'Alene Railway and Navigation bought at foreclosure sale January 26,
narrow gauge line helps access mines in the Idaho Panhandle. The Northern
Pacific accepts first X Class 2-8-0 steam engine, No. 13, on February 9.
Charles Sanger Mellen becomes president September 1.
Line between Meeker and Black River, Wash., completed, April 21.
North Coast Limited is introduced, April 29. Subsidiary Minnesota and
International Railway incorporated, July 17. Operations begin between Crookston
to Carthage Junction, Minn., September 6. Brainerd and Northern Minnesota and
the St. Paul and Duluth (old Lake Superior and Mississippi) absorbed.
Voting trust is dissolved. Northern Pacific and Great Northern purchase control
of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy to assure access to the rail hub of Chicago.
Edward Henry Harriman seeks to buy control of the Northern Pacific; Morgan and
Hill stop the raid but give Harriman seat on Nothern Pacific Board (Northern
Pacific stock is quoted at $1,000 at height of battle, a Wall Street record).
Northern Securities Company is incorporated to pool ownership of the Northern
Pacific, Great Northern, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy.
United States Supreme Court, by five to four decision, rules Northern
Securities Co. violates Sherman antitrust laws. The Northern Pacific absorbs
Duluth Transfer Railroad, May 26. Operations begin between Kalama and
Vancouver, Wash., March 1. Monte Cristo Railway absorbed, July 31. Howard
Elliott becomes president, October 23.
The Northern Pacific and Harriman's Union Pacific undertake construction of
Camas Prairie Railroad, May 25. Northern Pacific and Great Northern begin
construction of Portland and Seattle Railway (later Spokane, Portland and
Seattle), August 22. Operations begin between Edgerly and Streeter, N.D.,
King Street Station opens in Seattle, Wash., May 10. First Mallets purchased in
the form of 16 Z Class 2-6-6-2 steam engines, December 7.
Washington and Columbia River Railway absorbed, June 18. Fargo Division
extended eastward to Dilworth, Minn., October 10.
Operations begin between Granger and Grandview, Wash., October 17. Operations
begin between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., November 17. Operations
begin between Craigmont and Grangeville, Ida., December 22. Spokane Portland
and Seattle Railway is completed.
Operations begin between St. Regis and Paradise, Montana on February 6,
supplanting the Evaro Hill line. Operations begin from Pinehurst to Trout Creek,
Mont., April 26. Introduction of the Great Big Baked Potato.
Subsidiary Walla Walla Valley Railway incorporated, April 30. A Northern
Pacific train saves 75 people from a forest fire at Wallace, Ida., August 20.
Operations begin between Puyallup River and Lake Kapowsin, Wash., October 30.
Tacoma Union Station, Tacoma, Wash., opens, May 1. Chicago, Milwaukee and St.
Paul Railway opens service to Washington, competing with the Northern Pacific
and Great Northern, May 29. North Coast Limited service extended from
St. Paul, Minn., to Chicago, Ill., via Chicago and Northwestern, December 17.
Operations between Manhattan and Anceny, Montana, begin January 23.
Jule M. Hannaford becomes president, August 27.
Auburn, Wash., yard opens, April 10.
North Yakima and Valley Railroad absorbed, June 14. The Northern Pacific and
the Great Northern begin construction of St. Paul General Office Building,
largest in the city, then and now.
Double track between Lester and New Stampede, and Martin and Easton, Wash.,
opens on Stampede Pass, February 20. Operations begin between Tacoma and
Tenino, Wash., via Point Defiance Line Change, December 15.
Operations begin between Harrah and White Swan, Wash., November 4.
Operations begin between Weikel and Tieton, Wash., January
11. Howard Elliott again becomes president, July 1. Flathead Valley Branch
opens, August 15.
Howard Elliott steps down from the presidency, February 29. Jule M. Hannaford
becomes president again, March 1 to December 1.
Charles Donnelly becomes president, December 1. Geologic survey of company
Puget Sound Division absorbed by Seattle and Tacoma Divisions, October 1.
1923 Automatic Block Signaling is completed on all of
main line between St. Paul and the Pacific Coast.
Fargo Division absorbs Minnesota Division, April 19. Operations begin between
Kamilche and Shelton, Wash., October 3.
The Northern Pacific and the Great Northern file application with Interstate
Commerce Commission for unification of systems on February 1. Last section of
Washington Branch abandoned, March 8. The Northern Pacific introduces 4-8-4
Northern steam engines.
The Northern Pacific introduces 2-8-8-4 Yellowstone steam engines, largest in
the world at that time.
System passenger districts consolidated from six to three, October 26.
The Northern Pacific and the Great Northern withdraw unification application
when the Interstate Commerce Commission bases approval on condition that the two
lines divest themselves of their interest in Chicago, Burlington and Quincy.
Northern Pacific Transport Company, highway subsidiary, begins operating in
Tacoma and Idaho Divisions absorb Pasco Division, December 18.
Timken's famed Four Aces, world's first roller bearing locomotive purchased,
becomes Northern Pacific 2626.
First A-2 Class 4-8-4 steam engine delivered, September 10. Air conditioning
begun on North Coast Limited.
Installation of first continuous welded rail in tunnels.
Line from Sunnyside Junction to Granger, Wash., removed April 9. Electro-Motive
Division NW-2 diesel No. 100 begins first diesel service in Seattle, December
Longest serving Northern Pacific President Charles Donnelly dies, September 4.
Charles Eugene Denney becomes president, September 28. Mechanized accounting
Diesel switchers Nos. 101 and 102 begin service in Northtown Yard, Minneapolis,
Minn., March 5. Electro-Motive Division FT diesel No. 103 begins test runs,
March 6. Gilmore and Pittsburg abandonment authorized, March 22.
Minnesota and International absorbed, October 22.
Electro-Motive Division FT diesels first run between Glendive, Mont., and
Mandan, N.D., February 23. First diesel shops are completed at Auburn, Wash.
Work is begun on new car building shops at Brainerd. First lightweight
passenger equipment ordered. Last of steam locomotive purchases are placed in
service. System-wide carrier telephone service inaugurated.
Electro-Motive Division F-3 diesel No. 754 begins test runs, November 2.
Newly dieselized North Coast Limited goes in service with all new
lightweight equipment. Company installs its first centralized traffic control,
a 55-mile section in Montana; begins using end-to-end and dispatcher-to-train
radio in Washington State. First Electro-Motive Division F-3 diesel No. 6500
run in passenger service, January 22.
Sand and Brown becomes paint scheme for structures, February 11. New Salem
Cut-Off opens, December 3.
Mullan Tunnel between Missoula and Helena, Mont., caves in
March 2. Traffic rerouted through Butte, Mont. Renumbering of diesel locomotive
fleet begins, December 2.
Charles Eugene Denney retires, December 31.
Board of directors elects Robert Stetson Macfarlane president,
January 1. Oil is discovered in Williston Basin; Texas Company brings in well
on Northern Pacific lands, July 13. Welded rail program is begun.
Electro-Motive Division FP-7 diesels Nos. 6000 and 6001 delivered to
Mississippi Street Shops in St. Paul, Minn., February 21. Last run of The
Alaskan, November 15. North Coast Limited goes on new fast schedule, and
second transcontinental name train, The Mainstreeter, is placed in
service, November 16. Oil Development Department is established.
First Electro-Motive Division F-9 diesel No. 7000 arrives at Mississippi Street
Shops in St. Paul, Minn., January 25. Vista-Dome coaches and sleepers are added
to North Coast Limited, August 16. Trailer-on-flat-car service is begun,
September 1. The Northern Pacific receives 1954 Progress Award of the
Federation for Railway Progress "in recognition of outstanding achievement
in progressive passenger service."
New $5-million electronic freight classification yard art Pasco, Wash., first
in the Pacific Northwest, opens June 21. Stewardess-nurse service, another
Pacific Northwest "first," is inaugurated on North Coast Limited.
First Budd RDCs added to passenger fleet. The Northern Pacific and the Great
Northern institute new unification study. The Northern Pacific joins in
building Butte Pipeline as Williston Basin discoveries continue. Accounting
procedures are streamlined with installation of IBM 650 Data Processing system.
Open cut replaces Homestake Tunnel, August 8. Oil and gas revenues nearly
double that of 1955; shared wells grow to 166.
Noxon Line Change opens, October 16. New five-track diesel maintenance shop is
opened at Livingston, Mont. Two thousand mile direct-dial telephone network
goes into service between St. Paul and North Pacific Coast cities.
Timken's Four Aces, Northern Pacific 2626, is reduced to scrap as
dieselization program is completed in January. Last steam engine run W-3 Class
Mikado 1713, in Duluth, Minn., January 17. Pig Palace stock cars enter
service, February 18.
Slumbercoaches are added to North Coast Limited, December 1.
Train Nos. 5 and 6 between Seattle and Spokane, Wash., are discontinued, April
1. The Northern Pacific, along with the Burlington, Great Northern, and
Spokane, Portland and Seattle announce plan to merge, July 15.
Northern Pacific and Great Northern stockholders approve merger plan; the
Interstate Commerce Commission begins hearings on application to unify the
Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Burlington and Spokane Portland and Seattle.
First railroad to install IBM 1401 Magnetic Tape Data Processing system.
North Coast Limited derails at Granite Lake, Ida., killing engine crew,
March 2. North Coast Limited derails at Evaro, Mont., killing one
passenger, June 10. Merger hearings are concluded. Installation of citizens
band radio system to coordinate St. Paul general offices maintenance. Oil and
gas revenues near $8 million as shared wells grow to 766. Passenger revenue
reaches highest peace-time level since 1929.
Further improvement of electronic accounting with installation of IBM 1410
Magnetic Tape Data Processing system. Addition of 80 miles of continuous welded
rail boosts total on system above 400. Mileage under centralized traffic
control grows to more than 400 also. Microwave radio between Seattle and
Portland and intermediate points expands communications network. Net income of
$24,592,470, highest since 1943.
For its Centennial year, the Northern Pacific authorizes $35 million
improvement program, including more welded rail, centralized traffic control,
branch line dial service, 15 new 2500 horsepower diesel units, 900 freight
Athol Line Change opens, September 24.
Louis Wilson Menk becomes last Northern Pacific President, Robert. Stetson
Macfarlane becomes Chairman of the Board, September 22. Economy Buffet service
opens on Seattle, Wash., to Portland, Ore., November 3. General Electric U-25s
Last run of Trains No. 3 and 4 between St. Paul, Minn., and Jamestown, N.D.,
The Northern Pacific and the Great Northern announce Auburn, Wash., will be a
major facility on the merged roads, January 30. First unit coal train from
Colstrip to Billings, Mont., July 5. Corporate records donated to the Minnesota
Historical Society for posterity, December 2.
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Great Northern Railway, Northern
Pacific Railway and Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway merge into the
Burlington Northern Railroad, creating the largest rail system in the United
States, March 3.
Divisions and Mileage - 1949
|St. Paul, Minn.
Ashland, Wis., to Staples, Minn.
White Bear Lake to Duluth, Minn.
St. Paul to Staples, Minn.
St. Paul to White Bear Lake, Minn.
Staples to Dilworth, Minn.
Dilworth, Minn., to Jamestown, N.D.
Jamestown to Mandan, N.D.
Mandan, N.D., to Billings, Mont.
Billings to Livingston, Mont.
Livingston to Helena, Mont.
Helena to Paradise, Mont.
Logan to Garrison, Mont.
Paradise, Mont., to Yakima, Wash.
Gibbon to Parker, Wash.
Yakima to Auburn, Wash.
Seattle, Wash., to Portland, Ore.
Tacoma to Tenino, Wash.
Updated December 20, 2004.