The Great Northern in Idaho - Old Town, ID
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 48° 11.139 W 117° 01.832
11U E 497730 N 5336935
Quick Description: In Rotary Park on the Right Bank of the Pend Oreille River in Old Town, ID are two kiosks containing no less than ten historical markers. This one tells a little of the story of the The Great Northern Railroad in Idaho.
Location: Idaho, United States
Date Posted: 3/25/2015 2:03:00 AM
Waymark Code: WMNJT2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member muddawber
Views: 2

Long Description:
The Great Northern in Idaho

James Hill's Railroad
You are at the crossroads of northern Idaho's railroad history. James J. Hill, a railroad industrialist who had successfully built railroads across Minnesota and Wisconsin set his sights on building a railroad to the Pacific Northwest. Hill's vision was to build a transcontinental railroad to join St. Paul, Minnesota with Seattle, Washington. Named the "The Empire builder", James Hill was a sharp-witted entrepreneur. The Great Northern Railroad was born in 1890; the year Hill launched his ambitious plan to lay 1,700 miles of track across the Rocky Mountains. Hill identified the shortest possible route naming it the "Hi-Line Route", which was built with no public money and with just a few land grants.

Construction Begins n Winter
Track construction began in 1891. Heavy winter snows in Montana forced crews to begin laying track on the western portion of the line in Sandpoint, Idaho. Working in two directions, track crews pushed northwards to Bonners Ferry, and westward to Albany Falls (railroad spelling), Idaho.

The Great Northern Railroad Arrives
With a joyous welcome, the Great Northern arrived in Albany Falls, Idaho on February 20, 1892. Immediately, the small struggling communities of LaClede, and Valencia, which is present day Priest River, flourished. The Great Northern replaced slow moving riverboats and freight wagons. Trains provided a profitable way to transport Idaho's enormous timber wealth to the nation's markets. But more importantly, train service gave remote mountain communities a sense of connection with America. During the early 20th century, trains were the modern airplanes of today. To attract travellers, Great Northern trains had romantic names. Passengers travelled in luxurious style on trains such as the: Oriental Limited, Western Star, and the Empire Builder, honouring its founder, James Hill.

The Last Train Fades Into History
For nearly eighty years, the Great Northern Railroad played a vital role in building America, and shaping the nation's Pacific Northwest. With the changing times, however, the once famous Great Northern steadily declined as air travel, cars and buses replaced passenger trains. During 1970, America's second transcontinental railroad faded into the history books when it became part of the Burlington Northern. Years later, the Burlington Northern merged with the Santa Fe Railroad, creating the BNSF. Today, BNSF trains still move freight along J.J. Hills's visionary "Hi-Line Route"—which remains one of America's premier railroad corridors.

Born in Ontario, Canada, James J. Hill had an aggressive competitive nature. As a young man he entered the steamboat business in 1870. Hill's experience in both the coal and steamboat business further honed the young businessman's competitive nature. Hill went on to become a successful railroad tycoon.

Imagine standing trackside in 1892 and hearing the echo of a distant train whistle for the first time. Hearing that whistle signaled the beginning of prosperity for remote communities on the Pend Oreille. But more importantly, train service opened the nation for the folks who for many years lived isolated in the wilderness.
From the History Marker

Photo goes Here

Marker Name: The Great Northern in Idaho

Marker Type: City

Marker Text:
See above

County: Bonner

City: Old Town

Date Dedicated: 2008

Group Responsible for Placement: The Rotarians

Web link(s) for additional information:

Marker Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
In your log, please say if you learned something new, and if you took any extra time to explore the area once you stopped at the historic marker waymark. If possible please post a photo of you OR your GPS at the marker location. Also if you know of any additional links not already mentioned about this bit of Idaho history please include that in your log.

Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Idaho Historical Markers
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
There are no logs for this waymark yet.