After the SP&S completed its main line to Spokane in 1909 the
railroad was extended down into Oregon when it acquired the interurban
Oregon Electric Railway in 1910 giving it access to the state capital of
Salem. The OE would be completed as far south as Eugene after a few
years of the takeover (along with a few short branches) and provided the
SP&S with significant carload freight traffic albeit the road was
never a particularly profitable operation, which was partly blamed by
unfavorable interchange rates with connecting lines like the Espee
(which paralleled the OE's main line to Portland much of the way).
Following other acquisitions (which included another interurban, the
United Railways which served areas west of Portland) and construction of
new railroad the SP&S reached points in Oregon such as Eugene, Bend, and the Pacific Coast at Seaside and Hammond giving it entry into the lucrative lumber and timber traffic of the region.
Notable Passenger Trains
Empire Builder: (Chicago - Seattle: GN's flagship hosted from Spokane to Portland by the SP&S.)
North Coast Limited: (Chicago - Seattle: NP's flagship hosted from Portland to Spokane by the SP&S.)
Columbia River Express: (Portland - Pasco - Spokane/Via Northern Pacific Train #5 And #6)
Oriental Limited: GN's train which connected Chicago to Portland, via the SP&S between Spokane and Portland.
Mainstreeter: NP's train which connected Portland to Chicago, via the SP&S between Spokane and Portland.
Western Star: GN's train which connected Portland to Chicago, via the SP&S between Spokane and Portland.
While the SP&S only operated less than 1,000 miles of trackage it
was a key link to the future Burlington Northern, and later BNSF Railway
empires. Aside from the online and bridge freight traffic the SP&S hauled, it also handled many of its parents’ passenger trains, including the premier North Coast Limited and legendary Empire Builder. Unfortunately, the SP&S was treated mostly like an unwanted step-child by its parents for much of its life. For instance, obtaining freight cars
for service could be a like pulling teeth sometimes and the railroad
almost always got second-hand equipment from the Great Northern and
Northern Pacific (whatever was left over as GN and NP always took the
good stuff). The SP&S did, however, finally receive new motive
power in 1937 when it was given six massive Class Z-6 4-6-6-4s from a
Northern Pacific batch of 21 ordered from Alco.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
American Locomotive Company
|FA-1||850A1-860A1 (Evens), 850A2-860A2 (Evens), 866A1, 866A2||1948-1950||14|
|FB-1||856B1-860B1 (Evens), 856B2-860B2 (Evens), 866B1, 866B2||1948-1950||8|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|O-1 Through O-4||Mikado||2-8-2|
Later, beginning in the
1940s, the railroad began receiving new diesels from EMD and Alco, the
latter locomotives of which how many fondly remember the railroad, as
large Century 424s, 425s and 636s along with FAs led many long SP&S
freight trains through Washington and western Oregon. Following the arrival of the new diesels and Challengers the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway had little financial trouble for the rest of
days (the influx of traffic brought on by World War II sure didn't hurt
any either). While the SP&S's life was, perhaps, not as
interesting or long-lived as other classic fallen flags, its lines were
key routes to points like Seattle, Portland and northwestern Oregon that continue to serve as important arteries in the BNSF Railway System today.
Related Reading You May Enjoy
Spokane, Portland & Seattle