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Spokane Portland and Seattle passenger trains

By | August 11, 2022

Images of passenger service on "The Northwest's Own Railroad"

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Spokane Portland and Seattle passenger trains: All through August 2022, Classic Trains editors are celebrating the history and heritage of Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway.

a steam engine in front of a patch of woods
Farewell-to-steam special
4-8-4 No. 700 with farewell-to-steam excursion at North Bonneville, Wash., on return trip to Portland, May 20, 1956.
Joseph Sweeney
a steam engine in front of a patch of woods
Two diesel locomotives in front of a train station
Western Star
F3 and E7 at Spokane waiting to forward cars from GN’s Western Star to Portland, 1965.
Rob Sloan
Two diesel locomotives in front of a train station
Chesapeake and Ohio
Train 5
Alco and EMD road-switchers with Pasco–Portland local train 5 crossing Columbia River at Pasco, November 1957.
Fred Matthews
Chesapeake and Ohio
A black and white photo of the back of an observatino car
Columbia River Express
Observation car of Spokane–Portland Columbia River Express, 1937, location unknown.
F. W. Conway
A black and white photo of the back of an observatino car
A yellow diesel locomotive pulling cars through a train yard
Empire Builder and North Coast Limited
E7 750 and F3 800 with Portland sections of GN’s Empire Builder and NP’s North Coast Limited at Portland, mid-1968.
Matt Herson
A yellow diesel locomotive pulling cars through a train yard
a black and white photo of two diesel locomotives back to back
Empire Builder
F3 and E7 750 with Portland section of GN’s Empire Builder after arrival at Spokane, July 1955.
Don Sims
a black and white photo of two diesel locomotives back to back
A black and white photo of a passenger train rolling through a flatland area
Columbia River Express
F3 with Portland–Spokane Columbia River Express near Plymouth, Wash., late 1950s.
Don Sims
A black and white photo of a passenger train rolling through a flatland area
a black and white photo of a train with a steam engine in front of a hill and trees
Train 4
4-8-4 700 with Portland–Spokane train 4, with cars for GN’s Oriental Limited, at Marshall, Wash., late 1940s.
Philip R. Hastings
a black and white photo of a train with a steam engine in front of a hill and trees
A steam engine and train on a tall wooden bridge
North Coast Limited
4-8-4 No. 702 with Portland section of NP’s North Coast Limited to Chicago crossing Spokane River in Spokane, May 1941.
Warren McGee
A steam engine and train on a tall wooden bridge
A black and white photo of a person walking by passenger cars
Empire Builder
F units with Portland section of GN’s Empire Builder from Chicago getting orders at Wishram, late 1950s.
Don Sims
A black and white photo of a person walking by passenger cars
A passenger train on a narrow track surrounded by water
Empire Builder
F units with Portland section of GN’s Empire Builder to Chicago west of Stevenson, circa 1949.
Photo-Art Commercial Studios
A passenger train on a narrow track surrounded by water
A passenger train in Portland, Oregon
North Coast Limited and Empire Builder
PRR bedroom-lounge Hemlock Falls, in place of SP&S bedroom-lounge, in SP&S train 2, combined NP North Coast Limited and GN Empire Builder, departing Portland, April 1968.
Bill Anderson
A passenger train in Portland, Oregon
A black and white photo of a passenger train on a gloomy day
Empire Builder
E7 750 with Spokane–Portland train 2, carrying cars of GN’s Empire Builder from Chicago east of Washougal, Wash., March 26, 1949.
Arthur W. Weber
A black and white photo of a passenger train on a gloomy day
A passenger train at a station
“Oregon Trunk Mixed”
RS3 67 at Bend, Ore., after arriving with train 102 from Wishram, the “Oregon Trunk Mixed.”
John C. Illman
A passenger train at a station
A black and white photo of a steam engine on a wooden bridge
Train 22
Ten-Wheeler 150 with Seaside, Ore.–Portland train 22 crossing Wahanna Creek just east of Seaside, June 1947.
Charles D. Savage
A black and white photo of a steam engine on a wooden bridge

The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway was the product of sparring during 1905-1909 between “Empire Builder” James J. Hill of the Great Northern and Edward H. Harriman of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, by which Hill’s GN, as well as Northern Pacific (which Hill controlled at the time), got much-improved access to Portland, while UP got access to Seattle. The fight continued after Harriman’s death in 1909, with Hill extending SP&S into Oregon to allow GN’s eventual access to California by connection to Western Pacific. GN and NP owned the SP&S 50-50 and in the 1920s considered running it as a joint facility with no separate identity, but decided not to because on-line people viewed it as a local enterprise, to be supported instead of “outsider” lines UP and SP — hence its slogan, “The Northwest’s Own Railway.” — Jerry A. Pinkepank

Please enjoy this photo gallery of Spokane Portland and Seattle passenger trains, originally published online in 2017.

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