William Milner Robert's camp and NPRR survey crew at Pend Oreille City (Circa 1869.) Davidson Collection, Western History Division, Denver Library, Denver, CO. Courtesy W. R. 'Chuck' Peterson collection.
The great financial panic of 1873 brought failure to Jay Cooke and Company and bankruptcy to the railroad.3. Five years passed before new financing could be obtained and progress resumed. In the valley of the Clark's Fork of the Columbia winter snows continued to bury fur trappers cabins, spring floods raged over the river banks, tearing away soil and goliath trees to fling them onward toward the ocean. The valley embraced few save migrating Indians and lone prospectors and trappers who roamed at will through it leaving nothing of themselves behind to be remembered other than the remnants of a few tiny log cabins widely scattered in the mountain wilderness.
Montana cedar trees in Rock Creek, Montana prior to 1910 fire.
Courtesy Earl and Katie Engle collection.
Horse and buggy in Montana cedar trees
in Rock Creek, Montana, prior to 1910 fire.
Courtesy Earl and Katie Engle collection.
Following the surveyors was a small army of woodcutters opening space for the railroad grade. Graders were stationed at various points, largely with pick and shovel and wheelbarrow, filling the spaces between them with rock and dirt. Following these men came the tie cutters, working all along the line making and decking the ties in piles ready to be laid when track laying began. Sawmills were erected at strategic places to cut bridge timbers and timbers for trestles. All the white canvas tents reminded of an army in the field.
A little steamer, built on Pend Oreille Lake, was invaluable to the operation at this time. The HENRY VILLARD hauled supplies but could only run about twelve miles up the river, to the Cabinet Gorge.2.
The Cabinet Landing 'Front' of the Northern Pacific Railroad construction crew. Henry Villard Steamboat in foreground. Courtesy W. R. 'Chuck' Peterson collection\ Davidson collection, Western History Division, Denver Library, Denver, CO.
Bob Martin took this picture, circa 1895, of the steam engine, at Hope, Idaho on the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks , courtesy W. R. 'Chuck' Peterson collection.
NPRR trestle three miles west of Tuscor (in background on right.) Courtesty Stewart and Agnes Hampton collection.
Steam engine on round table, ca. 1894 Hope, Idaho. Grace Pretre photo, courtesy W. R. 'Chuck' Peterson collection.
"You are liable for full market value of timber at the time of it's sale by you, thirty five cents a tie."16.
Newspaper accounts next placed the size of the stern-wheeler to be 140 feet long with a 30 foot beam. Completion date was moved back to August 20. Contractors, Ellis and Small, at Rock Island were advertising for axe men to work from the island to the river crossing.17.
|Steam engine #152. Courtesty W. R. 'Chuck Peterson collection.|
"Portland to Bonneville, by boat, 64 miles, 6 hrs; Bonneville to Rock Island, by rail, 462 miles, 32 hrs; Rock Island to Thompson River, by boat, 34 miles, 4 hrs; Thompson River to Missoula, by stage, 120 miles, 15 hrs; Missoula to Billings, by stage, 426 miles, 83 hrs; Billings to St. Paul, by rail, 900 miles, 50 hrs."21.
|Plains, Montana saloon, circa 1890s. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.|
NPRR officials said, "During the construction operations the portion of the road between Sand Point on Lake Pend d'Oreille and the crossing of the Flathead River, seven miles above the junction of that stream with the Missoula (the two forming the Clark's Fork or Pend d'Oreille), a distance of 130 miles, was called the Clark's Fork Division. It was by far the most difficult division to construct of the entire Northern Pacific line, and much the most expensive ..." At 3 p.m. on August 23, 1883 the rails met and completely joined east to west. Michael Gilford of the western group drove the last spike. It was a time of great celebration. It was the ending. The valley of the Clark's Fork of the Columbia ceased to be uninhabitable for lack of access.28.
"Later, because many of the odd-numbered sections of land granted the railroad had been appropriated, the government gave NPRR the opportunity to select other government lands as replacement, or "in lieu" lands. Some of these selections were necessary because all mineral lands were excluded, although coal and iron were not considered minerals. Initially, disposal of lands at any price was difficult and the government gave away millions of acres to settlers under the Homestead, Timber and Stone Acts.
"Northern Pacific, as directed by the grant terms, sold the major portion of its lands, largely to farmers and ranchers who moved in from the Midwest, disposing of most of them by the early 1920's. In 1940, the land-grant provisions were amended so the reduced rates applied only to military freight and passenger movements and in 1946 the rates were wiped out entirely so the government now paid published rates on its traffic. At that time Congress found the savings to taxpayers in the reduced rates enjoyed on all land-grant roads amounted to 10 times the value of the grant lands. The nation had provided badly needed transportation facilities to its west coast without cost to the taxpayers and made a profit of about one billion dollars besides." (Source-Montana Railroad Association reprinted from The Montana Stockgrower).2. History of The Northern Pacific Railroad by Eugene V. Smalley.
"A little grading was done in the fall of 1879, but operations were not vigorously begun until early in 1880. During that year the grading was completed from Wallula as far eastward as Rathdrum, 189 miles, and track was laid from Wallula to the south bank of the Snake River, and from Ainsworth, on the north bank of that stream, 48 miles further, to Twin Wells. At the close of the season the grade was 124 miles in advance of the track; an unusual thing in railroad building in a new country, where the advancing track is the only base of supplies. This circumstance resulted from the delay in procuring ties and bridge timber. The country traversed by the line was bare of trees, and the nearest available forests were on the Yakima River, a stream which empties into the Columbia above the mouth of the Snake River.
"Parties of workmen were sent up into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in the winter of 1879-80, to cut ties, piles, and bridge timber, ready to be floated down the Yakima in the spring freshet. The "drive", for some reason, did not come down, and was left stranded up the river, so that there were no ties all the summer of 1880, and supplies for the grading camps had to be hauled in wagons. In the spring of 1881 the "drive" was got afloat, and came rushing down pell-mell, on top of a powerful freshet, which broke the booms, and scattered the ties and timbers all down the Columbia River. Much of the material was picked up, but a portion was carried out to sea.
"Enough was saved to complete the track to the forest region east of Spokane Falls, where there was no lack of good timber for railroad uses. The track reached the shore of Pend d'Oreille January 9, 1882.
"The crossing of Snake River at Ainsworth is at present effected by a transfer boat which carries an entire passenger train. A bridge is in process of construction, however, and will be completed before the high-water season of 1884, and, next to the Bismarck bridge over the Missouri River, will be the most important structure of the kind on the entire Northern Pacific line. Its length is 1,541 feet, and it is composed of a span of 125 feet, a draw span of 350 feet, with 158 feet of clear waterway on each side of the pivot pier, three spans of 250 feet each, and two spans of 158 feet each. The piers are of granite, and are seven in number, including the pivot pier, their average height being sixty-two feet. They rest on a solid rock foundation. All were built in open caissons except two, for which pneumatic caissons were required. The abutments are also of granite, and are forty-three feet high. The superstructure is an iron truss of the most approved pattern, the lower line of which is twelve feet above the extreme known high water mark. The Spokane River is crossed east of the town of Spokane Falls by a single span Howe truss bridge 200 feet long, with an open truss approach on either side sixty feet long. As the railroad approaches Lake Pend d'Oreille from the west, the country becomes broken with ridges and deep ravines, and much trestle and piling are required. Within three miles of the lake there are three trestles.... then comes the long pile bridge across an arm of the lake to Sand Point, the end of the division, which is 8,400 feet long, with a draw of ninety-four feet. Six hundred feet of this structure runs across such deep water that piles of from 90 to 100 feet in length are required.
6. Destined to become one of the most colorful figures in American history, Henry Villard had emigrated from Germany in 1853 at the age of 18. He studied law and subsequently became a distinguished journalist. He reported the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Chicago convention where Lincoln was nominated for president. In Washington he covered the political front for a syndicate of newspapers and as a war correspondent he chronicled important engagements of the Civil War."During the construction operations the portion of the road between Sand Point on Lake Pend d'Oreille and the crossing of the Flathead River, seven miles above the junction of that stream with the Missoula (the two forming the Clark's Fork or Pend d'Oreille), a distance of 130 miles, was called the Clark's Fork Division. It was by far the most difficult division to construct of the entire Northern Pacific line, and much the most expensive.... "
Thomas Lockman Greenough had four brothers who came west. Joseph W. stayed in Missoula many years before moving to Spokane. John Brush and Wilbur Drake were in Mullan and then in Spokane.