How the SP&S Railway Transformed the Pacific Northwest

SP&S passenger train westbound on Main Street of Rainier, Oregon en route from Portland to Astoria and Seaside, Sept. 18, 1951.

In 1905, James J. Hill set his ambitions on building a railroad that would travel from Spokane, Washington, to Portland, Oregon. He already owned the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads, and connecting the two would allow him to capitalize on the Pacific Northwest’s lucrative lumber trade. In 1906, construction began on Hill’s new railroad as crews laid track through the Columbia River Gorge. This was the beginning of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway (SP&S).

The SP&S Railway became a fixture in the Pacific Northwest as the company offered lines connecting the region’s largest cities. It also offered travel to more rural areas, including on the Oregon Trunk Line from Wishram, Washington, to Bend, Oregon, and the Oregon Electric Railway from Portland to Eugene. The new railroad lines transformed rural communities in Oregon and Washington, promoting a rapid expansion in timber and agricultural industries… read more >

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