Here we have another high-quality publication by White River Productions. The photographs are sharp and many pages of this horizontal-format book have one big image per page so you can take in the details of the scene. There is a good mix of photographs from busy locations to remote branch lines with commonly seen locomotives to locomotives and doodlebugs unique to the Great Northern. Most locomotives are painted in the original colors and some are painted in the simplified green and orange. Some Big Sky Blue units appear but not too many as this was a short-lived paint scheme of only a few years before the formation of Burlington Northern. Bright red cabooses, clean locomotives, beautiful scenery and a good author make this an outstanding book to have.
This is an all-color pictorial of James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway. Formed from a pair of bankrupt startup Minnesota railroads in 1878, Hill and his partners went on to acquire and build, with private money, what would become a railroad empire. First as the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba then, after reorganization, renamed the Great Northern Railway in 1890. Hill's investors would never have to contend with another financial failure. Hill's railroad construction enterprise expanded beyond Minnesota to connect the Duluth-Superior Lakehead to the west coast at Everett, Washington, followed by a north-south link connecting Vancouver, British Columbia, with Seattle, Portland, and California. His business plan of using branch lines and feeder systems routing traffic to his Great Northern Railway from the Great Lakes, Canada, Europe, and Asia would serve his transportation enterprise well. During economic downturns, the Hill interests acquired the Northern Pacific Railway and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In March 1970 all these corporate entities, along with the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway, were finally merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad.
During the steam era, Great Northern operated big articulated locomotives that moved iron ore from the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota to the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Their famous Class O-8 Mikado steam locomotives could be found hustling fast freights across the Dakotas and Montana. The Great Northern also operated a 72-mile-long electrified district through Washington state's Cascade Mountains. With the arrival of the diesel era, the Great Northern owned and experimented with locomotives from nearly every builder. Taking the lead in the race for horsepower in the 1960s, GN ushered in the era of the SD45 with the purchase of number 400. Later named "Hustle Muscle," the historic locomotive was the first of its kind off the EMD assembly line. "Rocky," GN's trademarked mountain goat, was used to identify the Great Northern with Glacier National Park, Montana's vacation paradise. A pair of famous streamlined passenger trains named the Empire Builder and Western Star served Hill's grandiose hotels located in the park. All of this and more is presented here in 256 pages, illustrated by the work of many of the best color railroad photographers of the steam-to-diesel transition era.
Mesabi Division, 8-21,
Twin City Terminals, 22-38,
Willmar Division, 38-55,
Dakota Division, 56-71,
Minot Division, 72-79,
Butte Division, 80-99,
Kalispell Division, 100-144,
Spokane Division, 144-175,
Cascade Division East, 176-199,
Cascade Division West, 200-245,
Klamath Division, 246-255,
Index of Photographers, Bibliography, pg. 256.
White River Productions, 256 pages, 12.25 x 9.25 x .75 in., all color photographs.