John Speller's Web Pages Northern Pacific Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - US Railroads
Northern Pacific Railway
The Northern Pacific Railway was chartered by Congress on 2 July 1864 to build a railroad from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound. Because of the aftermath of the Civil War, groundbreaking did not take place until 15 February 1870. Then, largely because of the financial backing of Jay Cooke, the line began to progress rapidly. By the end of 1871 it had built some 230 miles of track from Minnesota to the North Dakota border. In 1873, however, there was a financial panic during which the Philadelphia banking firm of Jay Cooke & Company closed its doors, and the Northern Pacific Railway was forced into bankruptcy. Following reorganization in 1877 construction resumed and the gold spike was finally driven by former President Ulysses S. Grant at Gold Creek on 8 September 1883. A video of Northern Pacific Railway's Overland Express arriving in Helena, Montana, in the summer of 1897 may be seen here. Another video of the Northern Pacific's fast mail near Portland, Oregon on 25 October 1897 can be seen here. Footage shot around Seattle more than half a century later in the 1950s can be seen here.

The Northern Pacific Railway was merged into the Burlington Northern Railway on 2 March 1970, and subsequently became part of the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway 31 December 1996. The Northern Pacific Railway's crack express was the "North Coast Limited" which operated between Chicago and Seattle in cooperation with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Indeed, on 3 March 1970 the Northern Pacific and several other companies merged with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad to form the Burlington Northern Railway, then the largest privately-owned railroad in the world.

The Northern Pacific was famous for its Ying-and-Yang logo. This was said to have been the brainchild of Edwin Harrison McHenry, the Chief Engineer, and Charles S. Fee, the General Manager, who took a fancy to the symbol on the Korean flag at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
Map showing the principal locations served by the Northern Pacific Railway
Northern Pacific woodburning 4-4-0 locomotive No. 220 at Missoula, Montana in 1884
Northern Pacific 4-4-0 No. 5 hauling a special decorated for a July 4 celebration, at the depot in Pasco, Washington, in around 1890
Postcard view of the "North Coast Limited" leaving Missoula, Montana
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