Railroad History: Steamships operated by BNSF predecessor companies
The Spokane, Portland and Seattle (SP&S) Railway was formed by BNSF predecessor companies Northern Pacific and Great Northern to pursue real estate and steamship ventures.
Twin steamships, the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific, were the flagship vessels of the passenger service provide between Oregon and California. The two ships performed their job so well, running at a 20-knot speed, that they became known as the two fastest ships under the American flag. Sailing time between Astoria and San Francisco was 27 hours.
World War I brought an end to this venture when the U.S. government purchased both vessels for trans-Atlantic troop service. The Great Northern continued to serve the government and private owners, and under a different name, she supported the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day in 1944.
Fire Trains Called Out in Pacific Northwest
BNSF’s specially designed and built fire trains are at hard at work again this summer on scene at forest and grass fires throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Fire trains are rapidly deployed and can reach roadless areas – transporting both water and crews. High-powered pumps on board can shoot water up to 300 feet. The equipment is also useful after fires have been put out. Not only can it be used to fight fire directly, or to refill equipment, but it can be used to spray down to prevent flare-ups after the fire has been contained.
Several water-filled tank cars are strategically placed on BNSF routes and are equipped with the proper connections so firefighters can refill their equipment or rig hoses directly to the cars.
Congratulations to the Port of Everett on its First Century of Service!
The Port of Everett was created by voters in July 1918 and today supports more than 35,000 jobs in the region.
BNSF, and its predecessor companies, are proud to have served the Port of Everett from the beginning.
All Aboard: BNSF Honors Spokane Area First Responders
First responders from across greater Spokane were treated to a very special train ride this month. As a way to say thank you for their service, BNSF hosted about 150 first responders and their families aboard the First Responder Express. The First Responder Express, which is on BNSF’s private passenger rail cars, traveled from downtown Spokane to north Idaho, and provided guests with an opportunity to see the communities they serve from a unique vantage point.
Before departure, the BNSF Railway Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to the Behind the Badge Foundation, which provides comprehensive support to Washington State’s law enforcement agencies, families, and communities after an officer has died or suffered serious injury in the line of duty. The foundation also provided a $5,000 grant to the Spokane Fire Department Foundation, which assists victims of fire and disaster primarily by providing financial and capital support to the Spokane Fire Department’s Community Assistance Response Team, CERT, and FireCorps Program.
In addition, members from the American Red Cross also showcased a new vehicle for the Greater Inland Northwest chapter, which serves communities throughout Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, Ferry, Lincoln, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Spokane, and Whitman counties in Washington; and Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, and Shoshone counties in Idaho. The new Red Cross vehicle, which was purchased through a BNSF Railway Foundation grant, will help ensure volunteers are on-site as soon as possible to help victims of disasters.
BNSF names Bonner County, Idaho as 2018 Heritage Community Award recipient
Bonner County traces its rail roots back to before Idaho statehood. The Northern Pacific Railroad first reached Bonner County in the early 1880s from Spokane. The Great Northern came later in 1892 to Sandpoint, Idaho from Bonners Ferry. According to the Bonner County History Museum, the Spokane International built east from Spokane toward Coeur d’Alene and then north up the Hoodoo Valley and an easy crossing of the Pend Oreille River into Sandpoint in 1906. It continued on to Bonners Ferry and Canada. The Idaho & Washington Northern built south out of Coleman to Spirit Lake, Rathdrum and Grand Junction and north to Newport and then on up to Metaline Falls in 1907/08.
Today, Bonner County continues to be a critical piece of BNSF’s Great Northern Corridor, helping to connect American goods to ports in the Pacific Northwest, markets across the country and around the world. In addition, BNSF helps deliver a wide variety of consumer products to Idaho retailers and businesses, including packaged goods, clothes, appliances, electronics, and automobiles. In all, BNSF moves more than 1.4 million carloads of freight in Idaho annually.
To celebrate Bonner County’s deep ties to rail, BNSF honored the community with its annual Heritage Community Award. The award recognizes communities along the BNSF network that embrace their past, present and future ties to freight railroads. As part of the celebration, local Bonner County elected officials and community leaders were treated to a special ride aboard BNSF’s private rail cars. BNSF also made two $5,000 donations to the Bonner County Community Food Bank and the West Bonner County Food Bank. These two charitable groups were selected by the Bonner County Commission.
Emergencies – Call 800-832-5452
To report a vehicle stalled on a crossing, suspicious circumstances, malfunctioning crossing gates and lights, or any other emergency, call 800-832-5452 immediately.
Have a Question for Us?
Do you have a question about BNSF or rail in the Pacific Northwest that you would like addressed in future issues of Inside Track? Send them to [email protected].