Northern Pacific Railway companyVariant names
The Northern Pacific Railway Company was the successor of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and was established in 1896. The company operated railway lines between the Great Lakes and Washington State until it merged to form the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970.
From the description of Northern Pacific Railway Company photographs, circa 1900s-1920s. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 367951939
The Northern Pacific Railroad Company was chartered in 1864 to build a railroad from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound. Land grants for rights-of-way in Washington State were deeded to the railroad by Pierce, King, and Thurston counties in 1971. The company was reorganized and its name was changed to Northern Pacific Railway Company in 1996.
From the description of Northern Pacific Railway Company records, 1864-1957. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 28412722
The first survey for a northern route to the Pacific was conducted by the War Department in 1853. The Northern Pacific Railroad Company was organized in 1864 with Josiah Perman as president. Construction began at Carlton, Minnesota, in February 1870, with an initial operation of 125 miles. That same year, construction began at Kalama, Washington Territory, near Portland, Oregon, and that line was extended to New Tacoma, Washington Territory, by 1873. The company was reorganized in the wake of financial troubles in 1875. The western and eastern lines joined at Gold Creek, Montana, in 1883. The real completion date was 1888 when the tunnel through Stampede Pass, Washington, was opened, replacing a switchback line over that pass. The company was reorganized for a second time in 1896 as the Northern Pacific Railway Company.
The company’s lines were organized into divisions. According to the 1881 annual report, the divisions were as follows:
Wisconsin Division: Brainerd, Minnesota to Dulluth, Minnesota
Minnesota Division: Minnesota/North Dakota border to Great Lakes
Dakota Division: Bismarck, North Dakota to North Dakota/Minnesota border
Missouri Division: Bismarck, North Dakota to Miles City, Montana
Yellowstone Division: Miles City, Montana to Livingston, Montana
Rocky Mountain Division: Livingston, Montana to Missoula, Montana
Clark’s Fork Division: Missoula, Montana to Montana/Idaho border
Pend D’Oreille Division: Montana/Idaho border to Ainsworth, Washington
Cascade Division: Ainsworth, Washington to Tacoma, Washington
Pacific Division: Tacoma, Washington to Portland, Oregon
The geographic boundaries of divisions changed over time. They were originally based on the distance an engine could go before it needed service and fuel, a distance that became greater with changes in engine technology.
Under its charter, the Northern Pacific could not build branch lines to feed into the main line. In order to meet its needs for feeder lines and other cooperative transportation ventures, the main company formed separate corporations to construct connecting lines. These small rail and other transportation lines were then sold to the parent company, which under its charter was able to acquire previously constructed lines.
The Astoria and Columbia River Railroad Company was incorporated on April 4, 1895. It operated between Seaside and Goble, Oregon, from May 1898 to March 1911. Its predecessor was the Seashore Railroad Company. By 1909 it was an operating subsidiary of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway Company until the two companies merged in 1911.
The Camp Creek Railway Company was incorporated June 8, 1911, and built from Manhattan to Anceny, Montana. It opened its line in 1912, and sold to the NPRR in June 1914.
The Central Washington Railroad Company operated a line from Cheney to Coulee City, Washington.
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company was incorporated on February 14, 1855. It operated main lines from Chicago, IL, to St. Paul, Minnesota, and to St. Louis, MO, and Cody, Wyoming. Like the Northern Pacific, it created and absorbed numerous branch and predecessor lines. Also like the NPRR, it became a part of the Burlington Northern Railroad Company in 1970.
The Clearwater Short Line Railway Company was incorporated on November 9, 1898, and sold to the Northern Pacific Railway Company on June 23, 1914. Its main lines were from Riparia, Washington, to Grangeville, Stites, and Headquarters, Idaho.
The Coeur d’Alene Railway and Navigation Company was incorporated on July 6, 1886, and was leased to the NPRR in 1888. Its main line ran from Cataldo, Idaho to the Montana state line near Mullan, Idaho. It was sold in foreclosure to the NPRR on January 26, 1897.
The Connell Northern Railway Company was incorporated on June 1, 1909. It operated between Connell and Adco, Washington, between in 1910 and 1914. It was sold to the NPRR on June 25, 1914.
The Drummond and Phillipsburg Railroad Company was incorporated on January 17, 1887 and sold to the Northern Pacific and Montana Railroad Company on September 7, 1888. It operated a line between Drummond and Phillipsburg, Montana. There was also an extension to Rumsey, Montana, that was abandoned in 1904.
The Dixon-Polson Line operated between Dixon and Polson, Montana.
The Gaylord and Ruby Valley Railway Company was incorporated on March 29, 1897 and sold to the NPRR on February 28, 1899. It started a line from Renovo, Montana, to Twin Bridges, Montana; construction was completed by the NPRR.
The Great Northern Railway Company was originally the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad Company (incorporated May 23, 1879); the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company (incorporated March 10, 1862), and the Minneapolis and St. Cloud Railroad Company (incorporated March 1, 1956). The first division of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Co. completed its first line from St. Paul to Minneapolis in 1862. The Great Northern Railway Company was formed on September 18, 1889 and involved the purchase or absorption of these and numerous other lines. Originally operating in Minnesota and the Midwest, the company completed its line from Duluth and St. Paul, Minnesota, to Everett and Seattle, Washington in 1893. It was the only line to build to the west coast without federal land grants.
The Green River and Northern Railroad Company was incorporated on September 22, 1890 and was sold to the NPRR on April 21, 1898. It was a branch line that joined the NPRR system at Palmer Junction in western Washington state.
The Kootenai Valley Railroad Company was incorporated on October 19, 1898. Its main line ran from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, to Porthill, Idaho, on the Canadian border. It was sold to and merged into the Great Northern Railway Company in 1913.
The Livingston-Gardner Branch operated from Livingston to Gardner, Montana.
The Missoula and Bitter Root Valley Railroad Company was incorporated on January 4, 1887. It operated a line from Missoula, Montana, to Grantsdale, Montana, 1888. That same year, it was incorporated into the Northern Pacific and Montana Railroad Company.
The Missouri River Railway Company was incorporated June 13, 1906, in North Dakota. It built track from Glendive to Sidney, Montana, and from Cannon Ball to Stanton, North Dakota. It was sold to the NPRR on June 20, 1914.
The Northern Pacific and Montana Railway Company was formed of the Drummond and Phillipsburg Railroad Company, the Helena and Northern Railroad Company, the Helena, Boulder Valley and Butte Railroad Company, and the Missoula and Bitter Root Valley Railroad Company in 1888. Its main lines ran from Logan, Montana to Butte and from De Smet, Montana, to the Idaho state line. There were also numerous branch lines.
The Northern Pacific and Puget Sound Shore Railroad Company was incorporated on August 23, 1884. Its main line operated between Meeker and Seattle, Washington, with branch lines to Kennydale and from Kirkland Junction to Kirkland. It was sold to the NPRR on April 21, 1898.
The Peninsular Branch operated between Shelton and Gordonville, Washington.
The Port Townsend and Southern Railroad was incorporated on September 28, 1887 and operated from 1890 to 1914. Its predecessor was the Olympia and Chehalis Valley Railroad Company. Its main lines from between Tenino and Olympia and between Port Townsend and Quilcene, Washington. The main line was sold to the NPRR in 1914; the line was then sold to Joshua Green in 1917.
The Puget Sound Shore Railroad was incorporated on August 19, 1882. It operated a line between Stuck Junction (south of Kent, Washington) to Seattle. It was sold to the Northern Pacific and Puget Sound Shore Railroad Company October 31, 1889, which was in turn sold to the NPRR on April 21, 1898.
The Rocky Fork and Cooke City Railway Company was incorporated on December 10, 1886. It operated a line from Laurel, Montana, to Red Lodge, Montana. It was sold to and merged into the NPRR on April 21, 1898.
The St. Paul and Duluth Railroad Company was incorporated June 28, 1877. It was sold to the NPRR on June 15, 1900.
The St. Paul and Northern Pacific Railway Company was sold to the NPRR on November 2, 1896.
The Seattle and International Railway Company was incorporated on June 30, 1896. Its main line ran from Seattle, Washington, to Sumas, on the Washington-British Columbia border, which it purchased as the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company. It operated from July 1896 to March 1901, when it was sold to the NPRR.
The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company was incorporated on April 28, 1885. Its two main lines ran from Seattle, Washington, to Sumas, on the Washington-British Columbia border, and from Spokane Falls to Davenport, Washington. It was sold in foreclosure in July 1896-the eastern portion to the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company, the western portion to the Seattle and International Railway Company. These were, in turn sold to the NPRR, in 1900 and 1901.
The Shields River Valley Railway Company was incorporated October 24, 1908 and built a line from Mission to Wilsall, Montana. It was sold to and merged into the NPRR on June 23, 1914.
The Spokane Falls and Idaho Railroad was formed on October 25, 1886. Its main line was from Hauser Junction, near the Washington-Idaho border, to Coeur d’Alene. It operated from 1886 to 1898, when it was sold to the NPRR.
The Spokane and Palouse Railway Company was incorporated in 1886. It operated a line from Marshall, Washington, to Genesee and Juliaetta, Idaho from 1886 to 1899. It was sold to the NPRR on February 21, 1899.
The Tacoma, Olympia and Grays Harbor Railroad Company was formed on May 7, 1890. Its main line ran between Lakeview and Ocosta, Washington, on Grays Harbor. It was sold to the United Railroads of Washington on August 2, 1890, which was in turn sold to the NPRR on April 21, 1898.
The Washington and Columbia River Railway Company was incorporated on August 4, 1892. Its main line ran from Pendleton, Oregon, to Dayton, Washington, through Wallula and Walla Walla, Washington. It operated from 1892 to 1907, when it was sold to the NPRR.
The Western Dakota Railway Company was formed on June 13, 1906. It was sold to the NPRR on June 20, 1914.
The Yakima and Pacific Coast Railroad Company was formed on May 1, 1890. It operated a line from Chehalis to South Bend, Washington. On February 13, 1892, it was sold to the United Railroads of Washington. This was sold to the NPRR on April 21, 1898.
The Northern Pacific carried passengers and freight throughout the western United States and was crucial part of the settlement and commerce of the area. In 1970, the Northern Pacific, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and the Great Northern merged to form Burlington Northern Railroad Company.
From the guide to the Northern Pacific Railway Company Records, 1870-1968, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)
The Northern Pacific charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Construction of the railroad began in 1870 with ground breaking ceremonies near Duluth, Minnesota. Headquartered first in Brainerd, Minnesota and later in St. Paul, Minnesota the railroad was given grants of land from the government that equaled close to 47,000,000 acres and spanned the distance from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound. In the early years the Northern Pacific was backed by the firm of Jay Cooke & Company until the financial panic of 1873 when the railroad went bankrupt and was reorganized.
In 1883 the railroad was completed at Gold Creek, Hellgate Canyon, Montana. Former president Ulysses S. Grant attended the ceremony and drove in the “golden spike” to commemorate the occasion. In 1893 a financial panic caused a second bankruptcy. By the early 1900s the railroad was again reorganized by James J. Hill, President of the Great Northern, and others. The railroad became part of the federal government transportation network during World War I and pioneered the first national park connection with the Yellowstone Park line. On March 2, 1970 the Northern Pacific was merged with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Great Northern, and Spokane, Portland and Seattle and their subsidiaries to become the Burlington Northern.
From the guide to the Northern Pacific Railway Company records., 1861-1970., (Minnesota Historical Society)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Yellowstone National Park|
|Emigration and immigration|
|Foreign workers, Mexican|
|Labor and laboring classes|
|Mines and mineral resources|
|Railroad construction workers|
|Railroad land grants|
|Railroads and state|
|Real estate development|