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The postwar diesel streamliner before the 1954 redesign
|First service||April 29, 1900|
|Last service||April 30, 1971|
|Former operator(s)||Northern Pacific Railway|
|Distance travelled||2,228 miles (3,586 km)|
|Train number(s)||25, 26|
The North Coast Limited was a named passenger train operated by the Northern Pacific Railway between Chicago and Seattle via Bismarck, North Dakota. It started on April 29, 1900, and continued as a Burlington Northern Railroad train after the merger on March 2, 1970 with Great Northern Railway and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The next year, it ceased operations after the trains which left their originating stations on April 30, 1971, the day before Amtrak began service (May 1, 1971), arrived at their destinations.
After 1918 the Chicago to St. Paul leg of the route was on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad along its Mississippi River line through Wisconsin. The train had a Portland section which split off the Seattle section at Pasco, Washington and ran over NP subsidiary Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway between Pasco and Portland.
For much of its history the North Coast Limited was known for its dining car service.
Inaugurated on April 29, 1900, between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Puget Sound, the Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited was pulled by NP 300, one of the two 4-6-0 E-5 class locomotivesbuilt by the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1893. The other locomotive was NP 301, later renumbered as 387.
The train started as a summer-only service but expanded to a year-round daily train in 1902. The North Coast Limited then ran as Number 1 westbound and Number 2 eastbound.
Until the rail line was completed to Vancouver in 1908 and the swing Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge was constructed between Vancouver and Portland, the train was put on a specially constructed railroad ferry which crossed the Columbia River between Goble, Oregon and Kalama, Washington. The ferry, the Tacoma (originally christened Kalama), was built in Portland in 1883 out of 57,159 pieces which had been shipped from New York around Cape Horn on board the Tillie E. Starbuck (1883–1907), the first iron sailing vessel built in the United States.
In 1909 the train received new heavyweight cars built by Pullman-Standard and added a Portland section which operated via the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway between Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon. The railroad began its through train service between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest on May 23, 1909, announcing it in newspaper ads.
On December 17, 1911 service was extended to Chicago over the Chicago and North Western Railway. In 1918 the route east of St Paul became the Mississippi River line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, which ran to Chicago's Union Station instead of Northwestern Station.
In summer 1926 the schedule for 2331 miles between Chicago and Seattle was 70 hr 25 min westward and 69 hr 55 min eastward. In June 1929 the fastest trains on NP, GN and the Milwaukee started running on a 63-hour westward schedule and 61-1/4 hours eastward, still with no extra fare.
On May 14, 1930 the North Coast Limited got new heavyweight steel cars. The new trains had brass windows, barber and valet services, a barber shop, separate bath and shower facilities for men and women, a soda fountain and radios on board. Parlor cars were added for the daylight portions of the run, so the train lost its all-Pullman status and never regained it. By 1937 most cars were air conditioned; in 1942 the lounge observation cars with open platforms were replaced by buffet solarium sleepers. By that time the train had added cheap tourist sleepers and coaches.
In 1946 the Northern Pacific board of directors authorized the purchase of new streamlined equipment for the railroad, beginning with the North Coast Limited. The new train began service in 1948; the crew included a stewardess who was a registered nurse.
In summer 1950 Train 1 left Chicago at 2300 CST and took 58 hr 30 min to Seattle; it was NP's only through train. In November 1952 it was speeded up to match the competition, leaving Chicago at 1130 and taking 46 hr 30 min to Seattle. The North Coast then became trains 25 and 26; numbers 1 and 2 were given to a secondary Chicago-Seattle train, the Mainstreeter , which took its name from the Northern Pacific advertising slogan "Main Street of the Northwest."
Until 1954 the North Coast was painted in the “Pine Tree” or "Streamline" scheme: grey roof, dark green letterboards, light green windowband and dark green lower sides with black trucks. The train's more famous two-tone green paint scheme which was added in 1954 and Lewis and Clark-themed interiors of the Traveller’s Rest Tavern car added in 1955 were designed by Raymond Loewy. The train now had a green roof, letterboards and windowband, a thin white line below the window band, and pale mint green lower sides with black trucks; most car names were replaced with numbers.
In 1954 the Northern Pacific introduced dome cars to the consist and advertised it as "the Vista-Dome North Coast Limited." There were two dome coaches and two dome sleepers (all built by Budd) in each train. The dome sleepers had four roomettes in the short end, four double bedrooms in the long end, and four single bedrooms underneath the dome. Each car had 24 unreserved seats in the dome upstairs. The Northern Pacific placed at least one flat-topped car between each dome car to give passengers the best view. In 1959 the Northern Pacific added the slumbercoach, for economy sleeping accommodations, to the train.
In 1967 the observation lounge cars were discontinued, but the sleeping car passengers could still enjoy lounge atmosphere in the dome sleepers, since below the dome two of the four single bedrooms were replaced with a buffet, and 24 lounge table seats were installed on the dome level, which allowed Northern Pacific to advertise the rebuilt dome sleepers as “Lounge in the Sky.”
The scenic route went west across northern Illinois on the Burlington to the Mississippi River at Savanna, Illinois and then followed the Mississippi through La Crosse, Wisconsin, St. Paul, and Minneapolis as far as Little Falls, Minnesota. North Dakota cities served include Fargo, Bismarck, and Dickinson. Crossing Montana, the train passed through Glendive, Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Butte, and Missoula. After passing through Sandpoint, the train made stops at Spokane, Pasco, Yakima, and East Auburn (a stop for connecting service to Tacoma) before terminating at King Street Station in Seattle.
Declining ridership and continuing red ink led the train to be jointly operated with the Great Northern's Empire Builder between Chicago and Minneapolis. By late 1967 the combination was combined with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy's Twin Cities Zephyrs between Chicago and Minneapolis. The eastbound North Coast Limited/Empire Builder was combined with the Morning Zephyr, while the westbound train combined with the Afternoon Zephyr. 151:
The Burlington Northern Railroad resulted from the March 1970 merger of NP, GN, CB&Q, and the SP&S. The North Coast Limited ran combined with its former rival Empire Builder between Chicago and Minneapolis, between Spokane and Portland, and between Spokane and Seattle. The original train ceased operation with the Amtrak takeover. The last trains left their originating stations on April 30, 1971, seventy-one years and one day after the inaugural.
On June 5, 1971 service was reinstated over much of the former North Coast Limited route by Amtrak as the North Coast Hiawatha . The train's name was an amalgam of North Coast Limited and Olympian Hiawatha , the Milwaukee Road's former Pacific Northwest train. The train was combined with the Amtrak Empire Builder between Chicago and Minneapolis and between Spokane and Seattle (at the time the Empire Builder used the former North Coast Limited route between Spokane and Seattle, via Yakima) and operated three days per week. On November 14, 1971, the North Coast Hiawatha began operating as a separate train from Chicago to Spokane (and daily between Chicago and Minneapolis on former Milwaukee Road trackage). It still combined with the Empire Builder between Spokane and Seattle. On June 11, 1973, the North Coast Hiawatha began operating as a separate train (still tri-weekly, except during some summer and holiday periods) all the way from Chicago to Seattle; the segment between Spokane and Seattle used was the former Empire Builder route via Cascade Tunnel. The North Coast Hiawatha was discontinued on October 1, 1979.
Much of the route today is not served by passenger train, though Amtrak's Empire Builder does run on some of the same trackage in its St. Paul-Moorhead and Sandpoint-Pasco segments. Additionally, the route in Montana through Butte and over Homestake Pass has been inactive (intact, but without any trains) since 1983, as freight trains (now operated by Montana Rail Link) use the flatter and more direct route via Helena. The lone remaining Chicago to Seattle/Portland passenger train today is Amtrak's Empire Builder which primarily traverses much of the former Great Northern route west of St. Paul, Minnesota via Grand Forks and Minot, ND; Havre, Whitefish, and Glacier National Park in Montana; and Wenatchee and Everett in Washington State.
The original heavyweight North Coast Limited carried head-end cars, coaches, sleeping cars, a dining car, and an observation car.A distinguishing feature of the observation car was a library containing 140 volumes.
A Westbound Consist for NP Train 25, the NORTH COAST LIMITED, from the May 27, 1962 NP System Public Timetable
Applied for the main NP route from St. Paul, MN to Pasco, WA. The train split at Pasco, WA into Seattle, WA and Portland, OR sections)
At Pasco, the Portland cars were switched onto SP&S Train 1, which also carried through equipment from Spokane to Portland from the Great Northern Railway’s Empire Builder. SP&S Train 1 carried a diner and lounge-sleeper, as well as the NP and GN cars.
The balance of the train continued as NP Train 25 from Pasco, WA over Stampede Pass into Seattle King Street Station.
The Empire Builder is an Amtrak long-distance passenger train that operates three times a week between Chicago and Seattle and Portland. Introduced in 1929, it was the flagship passenger train of the Great Northern Railway and its successor, the Burlington Northern Railroad, and was retained by Amtrak when it took over intercity rail service in 1971.
The California Zephyr was a passenger train that ran between Chicago, Illinois and Oakland, California via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, Winnemucca, Oroville and Pleasanton. It was operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) and Western Pacific (WP) railroads, all of which dubbed it "the most talked about train in America" on March 19, 1949, with the first departure the following day. The train was scheduled to pass through the most spectacular scenery on its route in the daylight. The original train ceased operation in 1970, though the D&RGW continued to operate its own passenger service, the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Salt Lake City and Denver, using the original equipment until 1983. In 1983 a second iteration of the California Zephyr, an Amtrak service, was formed. The current version of the California Zephyr operates partially over the route of the original Zephyr and partially over the route of its former rival, the City of San Francisco.
The Northern Pacific Railway was a transcontinental railroad that operated across the northern tier of the western United States, from Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest. It was approved by Congress in 1864 and given nearly forty million acres of land grants, which it used to raise money in Europe for construction.
The Superliner is a type of bilevel intercity railroad passenger car used by Amtrak, the national rail passenger carrier in the United States. Amtrak ordered the cars to replace older single-level cars on its long-distance trains in the Western United States. The design was based on the Budd Hi-Level vehicles, employed by the Santa Fe Railway on its El Capitan trains. Pullman-Standard built 284 cars, known as Superliner I, from 1975 to 1981; Bombardier Transportation built 195, known as Superliner II, from 1991 to 1996. The Superliner I cars were the last passenger cars built by Pullman.
The Super Chief was one of the named passenger trains and the flagship of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. It claimed to be "The Train of the Stars" because of the various celebrities it carried between Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California.
The City of Denver was a streamlined passenger train operated by the Union Pacific Railroad between Chicago, Illinois, and Denver, Colorado. It operated between 1936 and 1971. From 1936–1955 the Chicago and North Western Railway handled the train east of Omaha, Nebraska; the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad handled it thereafter. The train was the fastest long-distance train in the United States when it debuted in 1936, covering 1,048 miles (1,687 km) in 16 hours. For almost its entire career its principal competitor was the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad's Denver Zephyr. When Amtrak assumed operation of most intercity trains in the United States in 1971, it discontinued the City of Denver, preferring to use the Burlington's route between Chicago and Denver.
The Hiawathas were a fleet of named passenger trains operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad between Chicago and various destinations in the Midwest and Western United States. The most notable of these trains was the original Twin Cities Hiawatha, which served the Twin Cities in Minnesota. The train was named for the epic poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
A dome car is a type of railway passenger car that has a glass dome on the top of the car where passengers can ride and see in all directions around the train. It also can include features of a coach, lounge car, dining car, sleeping car or observation. Beginning in 1945, dome cars were primarily used in the United States and Canada, though a small number were constructed in Europe for Trans Europ Express service, and similar panorama cars are in service on Alpine tourist railways like the Bernina Express.
The Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway (SP&S) was a railroad in the northwest United States. Incorporated in 1905, it was a joint venture by the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway to build a railroad along the north bank of the Columbia River. Remnants of the line are currently operated by BNSF Railway and the Portland and Western Railroad.
The North Coast Hiawatha was a streamlined passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago, Illinois, and Seattle, Washington, in the United States. It operated from 1971 to 1979. The train was a successor to the Northern Pacific Railway's North Coast Limited and Mainstreeter, although it used the route of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad east of Minneapolis–Saint Paul. The train's name combined the North Coast Limited with the Milwaukee Road's famed Hiawathas. Created at the behest of the United States Congress, the North Coast Hiawatha enjoyed an uncertain existence before being discontinued in 1979. Since then there have been several attempts to restore the service, without success.
The Olympian and its successor the Olympian Hiawatha were passenger trains operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. The Olympian operated from 1911 to 1947 and was, along with its running mate the Columbian, the first all-steel train to operate in the Pacific Northwest. The streamlined Olympian Hiawatha operated from 1947 to 1961 and was one of several Milwaukee Road trains to carry the name "Hiawatha." The Olympian Hiawatha was designed by industrial designer Brooks Stevens and included the distinctive glassed-in "Skytop" observation-sleeping cars. It later featured full-length "Super Dome" cars.
The Slumbercoach is an 85-foot-long, 24 single room, eight double room streamlined sleeping car. Built in 1956 by the Budd Company for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for service on the Denver Zephyr, subsequent orders were placed in 1958 and 1959 by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Missouri Pacific Railroad for the Texas Eagle/National Limited, then in 1959 by the Northern Pacific Railway for its North Coast Limited and also the New York Central Railroad for use on the 20th Century Limited.
The Challengers were named passenger trains on the Union Pacific Railroad and the Chicago and North Western Railway. The economy service ran between Chicago, Illinois, and the West Coast of the United States. The trains had full Pullman service and coach seating and were an attempt to draw Depression-Era riders back to the rails. Food service was advertised as "three meals for under a dollar a day."
The Spokane Intermodal Center is an intermodal transport facility located in Spokane, Washington, United States. It serves as a service stop for the Amtrak Empire Builder, as well as the Greyhound, Trailways, and Jefferson Lines station for Spokane. The Empire Builder provides service daily between Chicago, Illinois and Spokane before continuing on to Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon.
The Northern Transcon, a route operated by the BNSF Railway, traverses the most northerly route of any railroad in the western United States. This route was originally part of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Northern Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway and Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway systems, merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad system in 1970.
The Western Star was a named passenger train operated by the Great Northern Railway between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest via Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Between Chicago and St. Paul the train used the route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; in later years eastbound passengers were accommodated on Burlington trains east of St. Paul. Through cars from the train operated between Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon via the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway. It operated from 1951 to 1971.
The Cascade was a passenger train of the Southern Pacific on its route between Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon, with a sleeping car to Seattle, Washington. The Southern Pacific started the train on April 17, 1927, soon after the opening of its Cascade Line between Black Butte, California, and Springfield, Oregon.
The Twin Cities Hiawatha, often just Hiawatha, was a named passenger train operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and traveled from Chicago to the Twin Cities. The original train takes its name from the epic poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There are a number of Hiawatha-themed names within the city of Minneapolis, the terminus of the original train. The first Hiawatha ran in 1935; in 1939 the Milwaukee Road introduced a second daily trip between Chicago and Minneapolis. The two trains were known as the Morning Hiawatha and Afternoon Hiawatha, or sometimes the AM Twin Cities Hiawatha and PM Twin Cities Hiawatha. The Milwaukee Road discontinued the Afternoon Hiawatha in 1970 while the Morning Hiawatha continued running until the formation of Amtrak in 1971.
The Expo '74 was a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. It operated in the summer months of 1974 in coordination with its namesake, Expo '74. With the addition of the Expo '74 to the Empire Builder and North Coast Hiawatha, Amtrak provided thrice-daily service between Seattle and Spokane, the highest level seen since Amtrak's formation and unmatched since.
The Mainstreeter was a passenger train on the Northern Pacific Railway between Chicago, Illinois, and the Pacific Northwest from 1952 to 1971. When the North Coast Limited got a faster schedule in November 1952 the Mainstreeter was introduced, running roughly on the North Coast's old schedule but via Helena. Unlike the North Coast the Mainstreeter was not a true streamliner as it carried both new lightweight and traditional heavyweight coaches. It replaced another train, the Alaskan. The name referred to the Northern Pacific's slogan, "Main Street of the Northwest." While Amtrak did not retain the train as part of its initial route structure, it created a new train named the North Coast Hiawatha several months afterwards. That train ran until 1979.
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