The Empire Builder was taken as the flagship of the Great Northern Railway on 11 June 1929 in operation. The Vorgängerzug was called Oriental Limited. The Empire Builder was named in honor of James J. Hill (1838-1916), an entrepreneur, railroad magnate, founder and president of the Great Northern Railway, which was also called " The Empire Builder ".
During the Second World War, the train drove on a different route that touched more cities, the ride but also slowed. As of February 23, 1947, the train has received a streamlined vehicle set and has now been pulled by diesel locomotives. Since 1951, he again offered the full, previously a reduced due to the war, deal. In addition, the train now led three cars with views compartments and in addition a complete observation car for passengers of the first class. Also there was a barber on board who offered his services in the pulpit car at the end of the train.
The concept, to outflank the train in Spokane, was from the beginning. Only in the years between 1971 and 1981, the connection was set to Portland. Prior to 1971, the train between Chicago and St. Paul wrong on the track of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad on the main route along the Mississippi River through Wisconsin. The tensile member from Spokane to Portland was originally driven by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway. After the takeover of the train by Amtrak the path of the train was moved to its present route over Milwaukee, which had previously been used by the Hiawatha.
The train was involved in two serious accidents:
The train operates daily flights from Portland, Seattle and Chicago. To the west it carries the train number 7 in the East No. 8 The Flügelzug to Portland consists of a course car group that is separate from the train in Spokane and beige represents him in the opposite direction there. The train operates double-decker seat ( coach class) and sleeper ( Sleeper ). The latter offer four different types of sleeping cabins. In addition, the train between Seattle and Chicago has a dining car, and between Portland and Chicago observation car with a bistro.
The duration for about 3600 km long route is just under two days. The train passes through three time zones. Here, the train makes use of the railway infrastructure from three suppliers:
- METRA between Chicago and Glenview
- Canadian Pacific Railway between Glenview and Minneapolis
- BNSF Railway between Minneapolis and Seattle / Portland.
From Chicago the train before it reached after approximately 27 hours driving time Shelby through the Midwest (Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota) and the vast expanses of the state of Montana. From there, a slow rise in the Rocky Mountains begins with a first stop (only in summer) in East Glacier Park. Shortly after leaving the station in East Glacier Park, the train over Marias Pass, with 1588 meters the highest point of the trip. The other route to West Glacier Park also forms the southern border of Glacier National Park. As a result, the train heads for the small town of White Fish, a popular holiday resort and the starting point for visits to Glacier National Park. The Empire Builder crosses northern Idaho now before it reaches in the state of Washington Spokane. There the train is split.
The main feature of including the dining car drives over the Cascade Range and the 12,537 -meter cascade tunnel to Everett and on to Seattle. The coaches group to Portland, together with the observation car travels a long distance along the Columbia River.