Great Northern Railway (U.S.)

The Great Northern Railway ( GN) was a railway company, headquartered in Saint Paul ( Minnesota), which operated in the border area between the United States and Canada west of Chicago and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway ( BNSF ) came up. Became famous for the Great Northern by their comfortable passenger trains Empire Builder.

Route network

The Great Northern covered seven U.S. states and had branch lines in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. The main line of GN ranged from the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minot, Havre and Shelby on the Marias Pass to Spokane and from there to Seattle and Portland. Important stitch routes led from Fargo, North Dakota to Winnipeg, from Shelby about Great Falls to Billings ( Montana) and Everett near Seattle north to Vancouver.


The GN was founded in May 1879 as the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway Co. (SPM & M) by the entrepreneur James J. Hill. Predecessor companies had already been operated since 1857 Streckenbau. Ten years after its founding, the SPM & M got its final name. At this point, the route already led to Havre and from there southwestward through Great Falls and Helena, capital of Montana, to Butte. From Havre, a new line was built westward, which crossed the Cascade Range to Stevens Pass and reached Seattle in 1893.

1900, the route over Stevens Pass through the Cascade tunnel was replaced. In 1909, the section between Tye and the operating station Cascade Station, including the tunnels, electrified with three-phase alternating current. The GN procured for their 4 first electric locomotives. In connection with the construction of the 12.5 km long, new Cascade Tunnel, the system was replaced by a 1927 AC system with a voltage of 11 kV and a mains frequency of 25 Hz. The electrical equipment was first then extended to Skykomish in the West, 1929 to Wenatchee in the east, so that finally 117 km long, were electrically operated. As of 1946, the largest electrical designs in North America came with the class W-1 on this route used. 1956, the electrical has ceased operations.

On 2 March 1970, the GN was merged with the three railway companies Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB & Q), Northern Pacific (NP) and Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP & S) for the Burlington Northern Railroad. This in turn merged in 1996 with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe ( ATSF ) to Burlington Northern Santa Fe ( BNSF ).