The Great Northern 1857–1970


Map Code: Ax02019

The Great Northern (GN) was a major American railroad that operated from St Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington from 1857–1970. The only privately funded transcontinental route in the US and the most northerly, it was developed from the Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad. It was built incrementally, using land purchased from the government; the idea was to reinvest railroad profits to extend the tracks and to sell cheap, undeveloped western land to newly arrived Swedish and German immigrants, following a promotional campaign in their home countries. By the end of the 19th century it reached north of the Canadian border, and ran through the iron-mining fields of Montana and copper mines of Minnesota. In 1931, it developed a route to Bieber, California, which was connected to Superior, Wisconsin, via the Spokane, Portland & Seattle line. In 1970 the GN merged with several other railroads and became the Burlington Northern Railroad.

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