Content provided by Those Classic Trains

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific

Part 2: the Puget Sound Extension

Branch Line Operations - - The Fall of the Puget Sound Extension - - Notes - - Check Timetable

Curiously, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, a relative weakling, is the best placed of all the Northwest competitors. The St Paul Road (as it was known at the turn of the century) is the only road to run all the way into Chicago: the Canadian Pacific travels a circuitous route via its Soo Line subsidiary while both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific end at Minneapolis / St. Paul and must work whatever through connections they can.

The CM&StP began as a Lakes regional serving the rich croplands and mineral deposits of the upper Midwest at a time when the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota were a thinly populated wilderness. By the turn of the Century, however, the growing railroad network northwest of Chicago was becoming overbuilt - indeed saturated. The railroad was in something of a triumph or perish situation.

Obviously, as a regional out of Chicago, the St Paul was only one-ended. They needed a second major focus to give them point-to-point traffic patterns and to provide a new outlet for their existing trade. From Minneapolis-St. Paul, they might have swung southwest and linked up with the Overland Route (which the did, later on, through a second line from Chicago) but the best bet seemed to be to strike across the upper Plains states for Seattle.

This was hardly a hasty decision (as some have speculated after the fact, considering the disappointing results of the effort). The St Paul Road had been exploring possible routes and traffic west of the Missouri River prior to completing track to that point in 1885. The decision to continue west came in 1905: a decision over 20 years in the making which appeared - at the time - to be financially sound.

The Puget Sound Extension was an ambitious project for a modest Midwestern Granger road. But, despite being not particularly well-to-do in the over built Lakes market and despite being the last road to tap what was already a fully developed route, the CM&StP took the plunge.

For purposes of construction, they created a daisy chain of subsidiaries stretching half way across the continent:

These were the construction entities doing the bulk of the building. Construction began early in 1906

December 26, 1908, the "Companies" of Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota were all deeded by sale to the CM&StP ry Company of Washington. On January 2, 1909, this road changed it's name again to the Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railway company. Under this name, remaining construction of the main line was concluded.

The Puget Sound Extension proved, in actual practice, to be ruinously expensive. The original plans had called for a total price of $60,000,000. The final tab came to nearly $90,000,000. When you add in the costs for the electrification (started soon after the route was completed) and general system improvements, the St Paul had to let out some $200,000,000 in equity stock and bonds. There were several factors that contributed to this inflated cost:




The line was finally completed at Garrison, Montana, between Butte and Missoula. Behind them, the track stretched 1163 miles back to St. Paul, but only 616 miles further on to Seattle. The first passenger service through to the Pacific Northwest began on May 29, 1911.

For its day, the Puget Sound Extension is a masterpiece of railroad building art: minimal curvatures, low grades, excellent engineering and the new electric block signals insured a swift, safe, comfortable passage.

To match this quality, the St Paul ordered all steel passenger trains from the very outset- the first of their kind to run west of Chicago.

The premiere train on the Puget Sound Extension was named the "Olympian", after a mountain range in Washington State. This was backed up by an accommodation train - also with all steel cars - named the "Columbian", and those in turn by a series of regional all-stops locals.

Although passenger traffic is minimal in this thinly populated region, St. Paul Road service, especially the "Olympian" is second to none.

Seattle / Tacoma

The Milwaukee never has reached Seattle on it's own rails. The mainline stops at Maple Valley, Washington. From there, they have trackage rights over a small mining and forest products road called the Pacific Coast Ry. (not to be confused with the narrow gauge California railroad of the same name) between Black River and Argo on the outskirts of Seattle.

From Argo into Seattle Union Station is over trackage jointly owned with the Oregon - Washington Railroad & Navigation Company.

Briefly, for less than a year during 1910, the tracks into Seattle (Black River-Argo) were the Oregon RR & Navigation Company. However, they were merged into the OWRR&N (which was controlled by the Oregon Short Line, which in turn was leased by the UP) on December 23, 1910.

The line into Tacoma is an isolated track with connections at Black River.

One peculiarity about the terminal facilities at Seattle / Tacoma is that, due to their track arrangements, trains arriving from the east run head first into Seattle terminal, the motive power runs around on the passing track and couples on the rear. The trains then run 'backward' east on the main to Black River, Washington, where the motive power runs around again, couples on the front and runs 'forward' down the Tacoma line into the terminal.

Tide Flats Yard in Tacoma has a "wye" used to turn inbound trains. The coach yard was originally at the foot of McKinley Hill. However, in the early 1930's, in order to cut down on expenses, it was moved to Tide Flats.

The return journey is equally complex. Typically: the "Olympian Hiawatha" (as it has been renamed after its 1949 reequipping) departs Tacoma as Milwaukee Road eastbound train #16. At Black River it changes directions and becomes Pacific Coast westbound train #27 for the 6 mile run to Argo Tower. There it becomes OWRR&N westbound train #33 for the 3 mile run to the Union Station.

Upon departing Union Station, it again runs eastbound as OWRR&N #34 to Argo Tower, thence PC #16 to Maple Valley where it regains it's home rails and runs as Milwaukee Road #16 to Chicago.

The eastbound trains were pulled backward into Seattle by a steamer until the electrification was completed into Seattle from Black River in 1927. If the train is headed "backwards" into Seattle, this should be an eastward train- i.e. Number 16 or 18.

Historical material courtesy

Stan W. Johnson, Alfred A Fickensher Jr, Edward Emanuel, Patrick M. Egan, Ken Secrest, Doug Geiger.


Principal Terminals

Puget Sound Extension - Main Line Operations 
Effective 6/35 
Harlowton times Central time Mountain time Pacific time


St. Paul
















(2) 6.40



< 8.00



 > 8.45




(2) 6.29



(3) 8.00







. .    .  .  ..





. .    .  .  ..




< 6.30

. .    .  .  ..


 .   .


< 8.00



 . ..





. ..


 < 9.00







 < 9.45


   ..  .. ...


> 9.15





   .  .  .



> 6.30


.  .



 .  .


 .  .  .  .  .






 .  . ..

> 6.30


   .  .  .

NOTES: refer to The Glossary for a summary of how to interpret the train listings below.

Long haul services Chicago to Seattle/Tacoma

Milw (trains #15 / #16)(Chicago) St. Paul to Seattle/Tacoma, A/C, daily.
sleeper- diner- lounge obs
tr #15 (w) lv St.P 8.45 am - Harlowton 6.29 am (2nd day) - Seattle 8.00 am (3rd day) - arr Tacoma 9.30 am.
tr #16 (e) lv Tacoma 8.00 pm - Seattle 9.15 pm - Harlowton 12.01 am (2nd day) - arr St. P 11.00 pm (3rd day).
Notes: This train began service on October 29, 1911 as a limited stops through train from Chicago to Seattle/Tacoma. Presently, as it does not have the regional support of the "Columbian", it provides more conditional and flag stops in areas not adequately covered by local trains: notably from St. Paul to Montevideo and west of Harlowton. This is severely eating into schedule times and the railroad is attempting to reestablish a network of locals and mixed trains to supplement the through service.
Milw (trains #17 / #18)
see notes below.
tr #17 (w) SUSPENDED
tr #18 (e) SUSPENDED
Notes: This train acted as a backup to the "Olympian" by providing an accommodation schedule to the larger towns along the route. The "Columbian" was discontinued in February, 1932. The last consist had a tourist sleeping car, standard sleeping cars (Pullmans), coaches, dining car, observation club car Butte to Tacoma, observation sleeping car Chicago to Butte.

General Map - - Timetable

Public notice:

Service on the "Columbian" has been suspended due to declining ridership resulting from the current Depression. The Milwaukee Road anticipates that service will be restored in the near future when the economy improves. Passengers should examine the regional train schedules for connections from the "Olympian" to local points west of Minneapolis / St. Paul.

Regional services on the Puget Sound Extension

Milw (trains #7 / #8) Butte to Spokane, not A/C, daily.
tourist sleeper- coach- no food.
tr #7 (w) lv Butte 8.45 pm - arr Spokane 7.15 am.
tr #8 (e) lv Spokane 9.00 pm - arr Butte 8.45 am.
Notes: this is the principal regional train on the western part of the system, an overnight local making almost entirely flag stops. In the Teens and 20s, this train had run from Butte to Seattle/Tacoma. It was discontinued in 1932 through 1934 due to low ridership, but has recently been restored on a timecard cut back to Spokane. Due to its overnight timetable, no dining service is provided, although the consist does include a Tourist sleeper with its galley facility.

General Map - - Timetable

Milw St. Paul to Aberdeen, daily / Aberdeen to Marmarth, ex-Su, not A/C.
tourist sleeper- coach- no food.
tr #5 (w)(daily) lv St. Paul 9.15 pm - Montevideo 1.30 am - arr Aberdeen 6.20 am.
tr #6 (e)(daily) lv Aberdeen 9.00 pm - Montevideo 1.45 am - arr St.Paul 8.45 am.
tr #5 (w)(ex-su) lv Aberdeen 6.50 am - arr Marmarth 4.00 pm.
tr #6 (e)(ex-su) lv Marmarth 9.45 am - arr Aberdeen 8.25 pm.
Notes: This is the principal regional train on the eastern part of the Puget Sound Extension, providing ex-su service as far west as Marmarth and daily service to Aberdeen. As with tr #7 / #8, the overnight timecard of this train eliminates the need for dining service.
Milw Marmarth to Harlowton, not A/C, 3x week.
tr #35 (w) lv Marmarth 6.30 am - arr Harlowton 9.00 pm, M- W- F.
tr #36 (e) lv Harlowton 8.00 am - arr Marmarth 9.30 pm, T- Th- Sa.
Notes: this connecting mixed train provides 3x weekly service beyond Marmarth as an extension of the more extensive services provided by tr #5 / #6.
Milw Montevideo to Aberdeen, not A/C, ex- su.
tr #93 (w) lv Montevideo 6.30 am - arr Aberdeen 5.20 pm.
tr #94 (e) lv Aberdeen 6.30 am - arr Montevideo 4.30 pm.
Notes: this is a local providing an opposite timetable to the "Olympian" for the relatively dense freight and passenger traffic in Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. It runs on a scheduled all-stops timecard which makes for a slow journey: taking nearly 10 hours to cover the 152.6 miles. (By comparison, the "Olympian" covers the same distance in 3-1/2 hours.)

General Map - - Timetable

General Notes:

Prior to the traffic downturn brought on by the Great Depression, the two long haul trains had been backed up by a series of locals and mixed trains providing all-stops services. However, this system had largely been dismantled by service reductions and is only now beginning to be reestablished.

With the recent reinstatement of the "Washington", local all-stops service has been restored from St. Paul to Spokane with the exception of Harlowton to Butte.

The Harlowton-Butte section has a very low population density and is served by the "Olympian" acting as an all-stops train between these two points. Local service west of Spokane is provided by the "Olympian" making frequent stops and by extensive bus services. Spokane to Seattle is also served by a Great Northern local.

The railroad hopes to restore regional services in these areas soon, thus easing the "Olympian" timetable restrictions.

Branch line services in the west

Washington and Idaho

Washington State does not have the largest population density on the Milwaukee Road, but it has a pretty fair selection of mostly small logging and farming towns in the interior plus a few decent sized cities such as Spokane.

Of course, the destination cities, Seattle and Tacoma, are major shipping ports as well as having the Bremerton Navy Yard and its Pacific Fleet base (which is the closest in the continental US to Japan). A lot of tonnage and a lot of people move through here bound for Alaska, Japan and the Far East.

There are also some major tourist attractions such as Mt Rainier National Park, and (via ferry connections) Mt Baker National Forest.

For all these reasons, the Milwaukee Road operates a wide selection of local trains, usually of the mixed train or coach- and- combine variety. During the Great Depression, local main line services were soon cut back (this region is also served by NP, GN, OWRR&N and Southern Pacific) and are only now starting to be restored.


Marcellus Branch, Wash.

Notes: this assignment is covered by a single mixed train (coach service) which runs direct from Warden to Marcellus, but pauses on the return run to take a side trip, as #313 / #314, from Tiflis (don't ask) to Neppel and back. 3 x week service.

Metaline Falls Branch, Wash.

Notes: 126.7 miles. See "Suspended Services" below.

Other Local Services, Washington & Idaho

Notes: 46.2 miles.
Notes: 20.1 miles.
Notes: this is the only isolated remnant of the once extensive local and mixed services on the Tacoma to Portland lines which have almost entirely been replaced by bus services. 48.3 miles.

Suspended Services, Washington & Idaho

Notes: Ashford is the Milwaukee Road's entrance point to Mount Rainier National Park. However, services have been largely replaced by a fairly extensive bus service both to Ashford and to other small towns in the region.
Notes: 54.9 miles. Presently provides one round trip daily.
Notes: this line had a mixed local which has been discontinued. There is no bus service, leaving #963 / #964, above, isolated.
Notes: a daily local and/or mixed train has made connections with the NP at Coeur d' Alene off and on over the years. Presently, this service is suspended. No bus service available.

Washington Map - - General Map


Although being the most thinly settled State along the Milwaukee right of way, Montana has the distinction of operating two of the largest and most distinct branch lines on the Puget Sound Extension.

The Gallatin Branch serves the small tourist communities around Yellowstone Park, as well as the Park itself. As such, it sees a lot of through sleepers, tourist sleepers and tourist coach service, as well as a fair amount of RPO and other head end.

The Lewiston Branch is your more typical Granger country line serving grain silos and farming communities in the central State as well as a connection to the Great Northern as well as through connections to Canada at Great Falls. Here the service is more your typical coach and mixed train locals.


Gallatin Branch, Mont.

While the Pacific Extension was being built, local interests around the northern end of Yellowstone Park were putting together a short traction line known as the Gallatin Valley Ry. The original trackage (and the only electrified piece) was Bozeman to Salesville - which later became Gallatin Gateway. A small electric station supplied power for a single trolley car.

When the St Paul passed through Three Forks (at the headwaters of the Missouri River), the line was extended to make a connection. However, this was never electrified; relying instead on second hand St. Paul steam power.

The Gallatin Valley began operation in 1909. Within several months, the St Paul Road bought the GV and ran it as a subsidiary (and later a branch). The electrification was removed in 1931.


Notes: prior to the Crash of 1929, a twice-daily connecting train ran from Three Forks to Gallatin Gateway, providing the principal direct passenger access to Yellowstone Park during the summer season. However, this service has been suspended and replaced by motor bus service on the same twice daily timetable. As tiny and remote as this service is, it was, nonetheless, an authentic Name Train. It is unknown at this time whether rail service will be restored in the future. The present bus service operates only during the Yellowstone Park summer season.
Note: This is presently the primary rail service on this branch, making a daily (ex-su) round trip from Bozeman (one of the largest towns in the area) to the main line at Three Forks and return. Menard, at the end of the line, presently does not have passenger service.
Note: This is a connecting train from Gallatin Gateway that meets the #592 / #593, which turns east at the Hot Springs. This is an all-year train which provides through connections to Yellowstone Park and is supplemented in the summer season by the "Galligator" bus service.
Note: this is another remote connecting train that makes the quick hop from Belgrade down to the principal branch trackage to meet the #592, then returns. 3x weekly service.

General Notes:

A short way west of Bozeman, Montana, trains stop at the back stairs (supposedly a "grand staircase") of the Gallatin Inn where people get off to visit or stay at the Inn and then to take busses or touring cars to Yellowstone.

Stan W. Johnson

The region between Three Forks and Gallatin Gateway has an extensive tourist industry in conjunction with Yellowstone Park. Facilities in the region include Hotels of various pedigrees, Dude Ranches, tour bus and motor car concessions. This region, and Yellowstone Park, are also served by the main line of the Northern Pacific railway, which roughly parallels the Gallatin Branch to the east, making connections at both Bozeman and Three Forks.

Montana Map - - General Map

Lewistown Branch, Mont.

Notes: this is the principal connecting local linking the Milwaukee main line with the Great Northern with connections to Canada.
Notes: these trains actually terminate at Falls Yard, 3-1/2 miles east of Great Falls station.
Notes: this is a fairly straightforward local mixed train serving the area east of Lewistown.
Notes: this is a relatively minor mixed local providing extended service beyond Great Falls.


The "Roy Junction" Story

Due to service cutbacks, operations north of Lewistown have been entrusted to a single 3x weekly (T-Th-Sa) mixed train that makes a circuitous day-long trip to small towns around a remote spot called Roy Junction. This is an excellent example of small branch line operations and shows how a mixed train can cover a surprising amount of territory:

Notes: the train departs Lewistown in the mid morning, turns off onto the branch at Roy Junction and terminates at Roy (43.5 miles) by mid day.
On the return leg, the train runs as #392 from Roy to Roy Junction (21.7 miles) where it changes into #393 and proceeds north.
The now- #393 continues up the main branch from Roy Junction, reaching Winifred (22.4 miles) by mid afternoon.
Finally, the return trip, Winifred to Lewistown (44.2 miles), is made as #394, arriving home just in time for dinner.

Montana Map - - General Map

General Notes:

This branch is one of the principal interchange points where the Milwaukee meets the Great Northern at both Great Falls and Lewistown, with connections via GN to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Minnesota and the Dakotas

While the Dakotas are thinly settled as a rule, the region covered by the Milwaukee Road is so large that it encompasses a fair amount of population. In fact, the remoteness of these small towns makes the railroad essential. The region is cris crossed with branch lines and many of them see multiple daily services. Some of these supposed branches are actually cross lines from the Dakotas trackage (see Part 3 for details). Locals here are almost entirely mixed trains, although a few of the typical coach and head end runs can be found. Prior to October, 1929, coach trains were more the rule. A few destinations like Fargo rate a connecting sleeper.


McLaughlin branch, N Dakota

Notes: 133.9 miles. This is an ex- Sunday train that operates on two slightly differing timecards on alternate days. As a typical example, northbound tr #305 departs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, overnights at New England, and returns the next day.

Roscoe branch, S. Dakota

Notes: 75.3 miles. #806 operates on a varied timecard as shown.
Notes: 41.3 miles. This is a quick out-and-back turn which operates as an unnumbered extension of #806, above.

Dakotas Map - - General Map

Mobridge branch, S. Dakota

Notes: 62.3 miles. This is a 3x weekly mixed local that makes a direct out- and- back run to Isabel.
Notes: 41.3 miles. This train overnights at Faith and returns the next day. #205 makes a 20 minute stop at Trail City. These trains operate on alternate days to #405, below.
Notes: 62.3 miles. This is a multi-movement time card in which #405 operates from Mobridge to Isabel, changes into #506, backtracks to Trail City, then continues to Faith as #405 again. This train overnights at Faith and departs the next day as #406 on a straight run to Mobridge.

Dakotas Map - - General Map

Other Local Services, Minnesota & Dakotas

Notes: 117.3 miles.
Notes: 50.5 miles.
Notes: 63.8 miles.
Notes: 37.1 miles. #563 / #578 are Saturday only timecard for #505 / 516 above. No Sunday service.

Dakotas Map - - General Map

The decline and fall of the Puget Sound Extension

Sadly, as the passenger Era comes to a close, so does the saga of the Puget Sound Extension. The Lines West was a massive gamble, which seemed sound at the time, that never quite lived up to expectations. The long and valiant history of improvisation, economizing and innovation could not, in the end, make up for the fundamental shortcomings they labored under.

The St Paul was well constructed and enjoyed the only continuous route through to Chicago. As such, it should have been a major player in the Pacific Northwest. What their two prime contenders lacked in trackage, however, they made up in political position. Both the NP and the GN were strongly influenced by the James Hill interests and they contrived to isolate the interloper. Normally a freight car traveling in interchange is exchanged at the point farthest along the originating road's right of way. The St. Paul was forced to exchange freight traffic as close to its origin as their competitors could contrive- depriving them of a large part of the tariff.

The opening of the Panama Canal, in 1913, drained off a fair amount of the bridge traffic from all the Pacific Northwest contenders. What traffic there was did the road little good since their competitors had forced the St. Paul into disadvantageous exchange agreements.

Other factors came into play as well: including the study by the U.S.R.A wherein the St. Paul was identified as a 'corridor of excess capacity' (in light of the St Paul's superior logistics, this smells of political pull in Washington). This had a severe impact on the road's bond rating and credit resources. The nationalization of World War 1 did the St. Paul little good in general: delaying the electric development and freezing tariffs and exchange points while running up expenses and labor costs.

The Great Depression, of course, had it's impact. The Pacific Northwest is heavily dependent on logging, farming and tourism - all of which are vulnerable to economic downturns. The thin population base and low-margin traffic structure meant that the now- Milwaukee Road could not afford severe volume drops. What is worse is that the Depression came right after the road had come out of bankruptcy and their economics were still fragile.

The general postwar decline in passenger service and the attendant loss of the REA and RPO contracts were a devastating blow. There were several costly natural disasters, including the loss of a major bridge in the state of Washington, just before the last bankruptcy was declared.

By 1964, deferred maintenance was catching up with the Puget Sound Extension and the road was in need of a major overhaul and updating. A comparison of the ICC operating statistics of the MILW, UP, GN, & NP told the tale. The UP's revenues per mile were nearly three times the Milwaukee's, and the GN and NP gross revenues per mile were nearly twice as great.

The operating ratio for all four companies were nearly the same and all were operating 'at a profit'. However, when it came down to the maintenance ratio, the Milwaukee was only spending, per mile operated, less than half of what the NP and GN were spending per mile, and a quarter of what the UP was spending.

Part of this was the difficult times for all roads, but part of it can also be laid to management. Following the pattern of the time, the Milwaukee Road had become part of a conglomerate including banking, land speculation and other non-rail activities. These subsidiaries had been intended to improve the cash position of the railroad, but they soon became the tail that wagged the dog. As the future of railroading dimmed and non-rail revenues soared, the Milwaukee Road, proper, soon came to be looked on as a drag on the conglomerate it had created.

This led to a period of quietly "disinvesting" the rail assets (also a common practice in postwar years) by deferring maintenance, cheapening services and cutting new equipment expenditures. The money thus saved was distributed as "profits" or reinvested in non-rail activities.

By the early 1970's, the situation was critical. The track was badly deteriorated. Derailments were climbing, as were running times. The EP-3s were gone and the Bipolars were worn out. (See "Part 5: Milwaukee Electrification" for details.) What brought things to a head was that the Milwaukee road was enjoying (or perhaps enduring) a massive upswing in traffic load. In its present shape, the Puget Sound Extension could not begin to handle the demand, or even serve its existing customers reliably. This put management in the position of having to either massively reinvest in the railroad or to give up and get out.

Conventional wisdom played a cruel trick on the electrification. As noted in Part 5, the electrical system, although needing overhaul, was still in fair shape. What was hurting was the track itself. However, the management decided that the overhead was worn out and had to be scrapped. The salvage money was to be put into new diesel power, although a large part of it was quietly "disinvested". The few new diesels they did buy split the rotten ties just as the bi-polars had. Worse, the Arab Oil Embargo of a few years later raised fuel costs enough to wipe out all the supposed savings and more.

Finally, as in 1923, the operating and cash flow problems became insoluble and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific has been forced into bankruptcy again. In the reorganization, the decision has been made to save what they can of the eastern system. Bowing to the inevitable, the Pacific Extension - the magnificent engineering feat of the small Granger road once dubbed "America's Christmas Train Set" - has been embargoed and the track gangs have begun the long retreat to St Paul.

Some material courtesy Gene Knol

Some Notes On Milwaukee Passenger Service

Motive Power

One distinctive feature of the Pacific Extension is the electrification of over 600 miles in two mountainous regions (see separate Topic on this electrification). The first equipment for this service came from Baldwin, although all the remaining freight and passenger motive power has been built by Alco - GE. These represent some of the most advanced concepts of electric motive power as it was practiced in the 1920s.

Steam motive power on the Pacific Extension began with the F5 class 4-6-2s (originally the 1500 series, later renumbered in the 3100 series). These are roughly comparable to the Harriman light Pacifics of the time, but with 69" drivers more suited for mountain country running. The railroad built the first 20 in their West Milwaukee shops and another 50 were delivered from Alco in 1910.

The bankruptcy disrupted motive power development, delaying new equipment until 1929. Had the Chief Mechanical Officer had his way, the 4-6-4 wheel arrangement would have been introduced in 1925 and would be known to the world today as the "Baltic" type.

Fleeting fame notwithstanding, the first 4-6-4s arrived from Baldwin in 1929 and 1930. These class F6 and F6a machines are comparable in most major respects to other Hudson designs, feature distinctive outboard framed pilot trucks and a number of efficiency and maintenance economy improvements. These are large drivered machines capable of sustained speeds of 90 mph with Depression sized trains.

In 1947, the railroad received Fairbanks Morris "Erie Built" A-B-A sets for the reequipped "Olympian Hiawatha". Since then, these have been supplanted by stock EMD E units.

There are also references to the road's 2-6-6-2 mallets, and later their S-1 class 4-8-4s being used on occasion over the Idaho Division between Avery and Othello.

Rolling Stock

For its initial equipping of the two premiere Pacific coast trains, the railroad ordered 20 complete consists from both Pullman and Barney & Smith. All steel equipment ("Gothic" cars at first) have been the standard from the opening in 1911. (A few composite and wood cars have found their way into local operations over time.)

From the beginning, passenger equipment was painted in the colorful red and orange later known as "Hiawatha colors". When Pullman began operations in 1927, the road specified that Pullman equipment also be painted these colors - and some seasonal cars that migrate to the Florida Trade each winter are duly repainted with each transfer.

In the mid- 1950s, when the road contracted with Union Pacific on the joint Overland Route service, the equipment received another repainting to UP "Overland" yellow and gray.

Until the late 1950's, the Pullman Company and the Milwaukee each operated their own sleeping cars - often in the same trains. The Porters and sleeping car Conductors were Milwaukee employees. The Milwaukee cars were operated the same as the Pullman cars: a train with one sleeper had a Porter-in-charge, 2 or more cars required a sleeping car Conductor.

On the trans-continental trains, if there were 2 or more Pullman cars and 2 or more Milwaukee tourist cars, than there were 2 sleeping car Conductors. In the late '50s, the Milwaukee was able to turn all of the cars over to the Pullman Company and the Milwaukee sleeping car employees were dovetailed into the Pullman Company seniority lists.

One distinctive type of equipment are the 12 section tourist sleepers: which are similar to a 12-1 sleeper, but with the drawingroom replaced with a small kitchen where passengers could prepare their own meals. When Pullman took over the long haul operations, these cars were bumped to the regional trains. The kitchens were removed by the mid 1930s and the cars rebuilt as 14 sections.

Some references courtesy Edward Emmanuel

"The "Olympian" during the war years did not run a milk train schedule east of Butte. The TT has many notations about not stopping to deboard or onboard passengers unless they had come from or were headed to a prespecified distant stop."

"The two different "Columbians" (the 1930s and the 1940s versions) did not cover exactly the same territory. The 1940's one ran the same station list (though with more stops) as did the "Olympian".

On the early 1940s "Columbian": "Tourist sleeping car, coaches (yes, that means more than one), dining car Butte-Deer Lodge and Spokane-Seattle/Tacoma (evidently not in between), observation parlor car Spokane-Seattle/Tacoma, observation sleeping car Butte-Spokane."

"The late 1940's consist was 3 standard sleepers (10-1-1 Plan 3973) Chicago-Tacoma, Chicago-Minneapolis, Spokane-Tacoma; tourist sleeping cars (12 sections) Chicago-Tacoma, reclining seat lounge coaches Chicago-Tacoma; Dining car Chicago-Tacoma; Pullman-obs-lounge-10 section car Chicago-Tacoma."

"#7 / #8 (the "Washington": suspended again in 1936 then reconstituted in 1940) ran between Spokane and Butte from 1940 to late summer 1947. It picked up the all-stop business. Dad was conductor on it and I have pushed many a milk can out the door of the baggage car and onto a baggage cart somewhere lonely in the middle of the night."

"Milwaukee was heavily into 'beaneries'. These were company owned but leased to subcontractor fast-food (for the times) places. I remember ones at Avery, Deer Lodge, Butte, (Three Forks had a creamery on the platform which sold buttermilk and ice cream).

The Milwaukee also had vendors from the dining car carrying metal trays with a strap around the neck (a-la beer men at ball games) who sold sandwiches, coffee, soda, candy throughout the train. When we traveled we always took a lunch even if we were in the sleeper. How we avoided food poisoning I'll never know."

"The 'Oly' didn't even slow down for some of the places the local stopped. I remember the baggage car crew, helped by dad or a brakeman, unloading freight and putting it in a trackside shed which they had to unlock and relock themselves since these were non-agency places in the middle of nowhere."

Stan W. Johnson

Additional notes:

"The station beaneries were operated by "The Interstate Company". There were 2 on the Coast Division: 1 at Cle Elum and 1 at Othello. If you ever ate in one, you would not want to eat in another!"

Edward Emmanuel

Return to Topic Index

Home         Site Map        Search         Contact

North East Rails  Clint Chamberlin.
Photos for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image.
Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.