Great Northern saw a decline in freight revenues but an increase in passenger revenues in 1961. Grain was and always had been Great Northern’s most important commodity, and a poor harvest in 1961 was responsible for most of the drop in revenues. Passenger traffic grew in both summer and winter, the latter partly due to improvements in the Big Mountain ski resort near Whitefish. Passenger trains were doing so well, the railway reported, that it purchased six coaches from another railroad that it “refurbished to Great Northern standards.
In recognition of a 78 percent growth in automobile shipments on the Great Northern, the report cover shows automobile cars carrying Ford Falcons from Ford’s St. Paul assembly plant. However, autos contributed only about 1.5 percent of freight revenues while grain provided a quarter of those revenues, so the decline in grain revenues was more than twice the revenues from carrying automobiles.