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Burlington Northern Trains on Great Northern line in Montana Picture Gallery

BN train on Great Northern line in Montana

For this series we begin in Marshall Canyon south of Spokane. We will follow former Northern Pacific trackage to Sandpoint, ID and then the former Great Northern trackage over Marias Pass in Montana.

In 1910 the GN converted Leavenworth, WA to Troy, MT from telegraph to telephone dispatching. In 1917, GN was installing upper quadrant automatic block signals Blackfoot, MT to Summit 34 miles, Essex to Columbia Falls Jct 42 miles, Stryker, MT to Rexford 31 miles, and Troy, MT to Bonners Ferry, ID 31 miles. These installations were completed in 1918. It added signals to 41 miles of single track between Newport, WA and Spokane in 1919. By the end of 1919, the GN had 444 miles of single track and 358 miles of double track with automatic block signals. However, this was about half the mileage of its neighbor to the south. The Northern Pacific had automatic block signals on 1,149 miles of single track and 558 miles of double track at the end of 1919. In 1922, GN ordered GRS automatic block signals for Newport to Bonners Ferry, ID 62 miles; Troy, MT to Rexford 79 miles; and Whitefish, MT to Stryker 30 miles. It also installed a mechanical interlocker at Columbia Falls at the junction of the Kalispell Branch (former main line). In 1923, it added 45 semaphore signals between Java and Nyack and installed several interlockers east of  Columbia Falls:
Java 4 electric levers,
Nyack 9 mechanical levers,
Paola automatic interlocker for gauntlet track,
Essex automatic interlocker for gauntlet track,
Snowshed 12 automatic interlocker for gauntlet track.
In 1925, it added 12 semaphore signals between Columbia Falls and Whitefish on 7 miles of double track and 20 semaphore signals between Summit and Java.

The Whitefish to Cutbank and the Whitefish to Troy dispatchers were moved from Whitefish to Spokane around 1955. The Great Northern was also slow to add CTC. The GN added CTC to the single track segments between Browning and Whitefish in 1967. It added 18 miles of CTC between Troy and Libby, MT in 1968. While the new alignment was being built through the Flathead tunnel to bypass the Libby Dam, the BN installed CTC on two segments between Whitefish and Radnor on the east end and between Libby and Ripley on the west end in early 1970. When the new line was completed and opened on November 7, 1970 the railroad had CTC from Troy to Whitefish. The connecting track between the GN and NP was built at Sandpoint, ID in 1973.

All pictures in this series are on disks 7, 12, and 13. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.

Marshall Canyon
The Funnel
Elmira, ID
Bonners Ferry, ID
Belton, MT
Red Eagle
Stanton Creek Bridge
Tunnel Creek
Essex Helper
Java, MT
Snow Sheds