One particular reason why the GN was so successful
and respected throughout its life was the excellent presidents who
oversaw the railroad. Following Hill’s death Ralph Budd, the renowned
leader of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, took the helm
and led the railroad through significant growth allowing it to weather the Great Depression relatively well. It was also during this time, the late 1920s, that the legendary Empire Builder
passenger train was inaugurated between Seattle and Chicago via the
CB&Q, who also partially owned the train. The train became
tremendously successful and the premier way to travel through the
Northwest. Because of the train’s success and high respect under GN's
tenor, it’s not surprising that it became a part of Amtrak and continues
so to this day as the carrier’s best known long distance passenger
|The Burlington Northern merger has already happened but this view of the westbound Empire Builder at West Glacier, Montana during August of 1970 would have one believe it is still the GN era. The train is clad almost entirely in GN's final livery, Big Sky Blue, led by SDP45 #9856.|
After Budd gave up the presidency in 1951 to his son John, the Great
Northern Railway continued to prosper and grow as the younger Budd
looked to increase efficiencies and add additional customers and traffic
where possible. The railroad, however, was destined to be merged with its allying railroads the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway; Chicago, Burlington
& Quincy Railroad; and Northern Pacific Railway, it was simply a
matter of time, as many had speculated for years (it was also something
Hill had always wished to accomplish but could never accomplish before
his death). While trying for years this did not come to fruition until
1970 when the ICC finally granted permission to do so thus forming the
then Burlington Northern Railroad.
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Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
|RS3||197-199, 220-224, 228-232||1950-1953||13|
|FA-1||276A-276B, 310A-310C, 440A-440D, 442A-442D||1948-1950||6|
|FB-1||310B, 440B-440C, 442B-442C||1948-1950||5|
|VO-1000||139-144, 5332-5333, 5337-5338||1941-1944||10|
The Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
|The GN's odd Class M-1 2-6-8-0 Mallets (as well as the Class M-2) were certainly an interesting design. Seen here is #1984 leading a northbound freight extra near Helena, Montana on May 25, 1945.|
|SW8||98, 99, 101||1951-1953||3|
|FTA||252A, 256A-258A, 300A-305A, 300C-305C, 400A-428A (Evens), 400D-428D (Evens), 5600A, 5700A, 5701A, 5900A, 5900B||1941-1945||51|
|FTB||252B-258B, 301B-305B, 400B-428B (Evens), 400C-428C (Evens), 5600B, 5700B, 5701B, 5900C||1941-1945||46|
|F3A||225-231, 259A-267A, 259B, 262B-265B, 275A, 275B-276B, 306A, 306C, 350A-358A, 350C-358C, 375C-376C, 430A-438A (Evens), 430D-438D (Evens)||1946-1948||56|
|F3B||260B-261B, 267B, 306B, 350B-358B, 430B-438B (Evens), 430C-438C (Evens)||1948||23|
|F7A||268A-274A, 271B-275B, 275A-276A, 280A-281A, 307A-317A, 307C-317C, 350A, 360A, 364A-365A, 364C-365C, 444A-456A (Evens), 444D-456D (Evens), 460A-468A (Evens), 460D-468D (Evens)||1949-1953||68|
|F7B||268B-270B, 280B-281B, 307B-309B, 311B-317B, 350B, 364B-365B, 380B-385B, 444B-468B (Evens), 444C-468C (Evens), 500B-504B||1949-1953||45|
|F9B||470B-474B (Evens), 470C-474C (Evens)||1954||6|
|E7A||500A-504A, 500B-504B, 510-512||1945-1947||13|
|One of the railroad's largest steamers, Class Z-6 4-6-6-4 Challenger #4000 is seen here at Pasco, Washington on April 30, 1945. The GN owned just two of these articulateds, originally built in 1937 by Alco for subsidiary Spokane, Portland & Seattle. In an interesting twist, the GN purchased the units from the SP&S and then opted to sell them back between 1946 and 1950.|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|A-1 Through A-11||Switcher||0-6-0|
|B-1 Through B-22||American||4-4-0|
|C-1 Through C-5 (Various)||Switcher||0-8-0|
|D-2, D-4, D-5||Mogul||2-6-0|
|E-1 Through E-15s||Ten-Wheeler||4-6-0|
|F-1 Through F-12||Consolidation||2-8-0|
|G-1 Through G-5||Twelve-Wheeler||4-8-0|
|J-1 Through J-2s (Various)||Prairie||2-6-2|
|N-1 Through N-3||Articulated||2-8-8-0|
|O-1 Through O-8||Mikado||2-8-2|
|Q-1, Q-2||Santa Fe||2-10-2|
|A GN 4-8-2 Mountain, #2585, leads its freight train through St. Paul on July 31, 1946.|
Notable Passenger Trains
Badger: (Twin Cities - Superior/Duluth)
Cascadian: (Seattle - Spokane)
Dakotan: (Twin Cities - Williston, North Dakota)
Gopher: (Twin Cities - Superior/Duluth)
International: (Seattle - Vancouver, B.C.)
Oriental Limited: Served Chicago and Seattle/Portland via allying roads CB&Q and SP&S.
Red River: (Twin Cities - Grand Forks)
Winnipeg Limited: (Twin Cities - Winnipeg)
(A deep thanks to the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State
University for allowing Ron Nixon's historic collection of the Great
Northern to be featured here.)
|Five GN Geeps, led by GP20 #2012 running long-hood forward, power a freight train along the Missouri River at Hardy, Montana on June 10, 1964.|
Alas, the Burlington Northern itself would last a mere quarter-century before merging with the Santa Fe to become the Burlington Northern
Santa Fe Railway, today known as simply the BNSF Railway.
While the GN is no longer around today it certainly continues to
live on in many ways aside from being an important Northwestern gateway
for successor BNSF Railway (the BNSF also continues to employ a version
of the GN’s famous dark green, orange, and yellow paint scheme), a
testament to the mark the railroad left on the industry. The GN can still be seen in the Empire Builder operated by Amtrak and its famous Cascade Tunnel in Washington, just to name a few.
Related Reading You May Enjoy
Classic Railroads Of The West And Midwest
Burlington, "Way Of The Zephyrs"
Rio Grande, "Main Line Thru The Rockies"
Colorado & Southern
WP, "Feather River Route"
C&NW, "Route Of The '400'"
Rock Island, "Route Of The Rockets"
NP, "Main Street Of The Northwest"
GB&W, "The Green Bay Route"
IC, "The Main Line Of Mid-America"
IT, "The Road Of Personalized Services"
IHB, "Connects With All Chicago Railroads"
CMStP&P, "Route Of The Hiawathas"
Monon, "The Hoosier Line"
Nickel Plate, "High Speed Service"
"Ship Soo To And Through The Upper Midwest"
St. Louis Southwestern
M&StL, "The Peoria Gateway"
The Missabe Road
MoPac, "Route Of The Eagles"
CGW, "The Corn Belt Route"
DW&P, "Delivered With Pride"
KCS, "Route Of The Southern Belle"
Wabash, "Follow The Flag"
Santa Fe..."All The Way!"
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
EP&SW, "The Southwestern Route"
SP, "Route Of The Daylights"
UP, "We Will Deliver"