Great Northern 1952 Annual Report

The 1952 annual report has a wrap-around cover, but unlike the 1946 and 1951 reports, the photo only extends about 1-3/4 inches on the back cover. Still, I’m including a PDF of the full cover below.

Click image to download an 18.5-MB PDF of this report.

The cover photo shows a GN train crossing a new irrigation canal built as part of the Columbia Basin project, in which water retained by Grand Coulee Dam was used to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres in Washington. The Great Northern was certainly pleased by the fact that many of those acres were “served almost exclusively by Great Northern.” The annual report includes a two-page spread about the project; however, that was not placed in the centerfold.

Instead, the centerfold “salutes the great agricultural and industrial state of Washington,” the only annual report centerfold about a state rather than an industry or the GN’s equipment. Of course, the Columbia Basin project was in Washington, but the centerfold also celebrates the timber industry and the aluminum plants that sprang up in the wake of the electricity generated by Columbia River dams.

Click image to download a 1.1-MB PDF of this cover spread.

The report also discusses the future of Minnesota iron ore production and the first oil production from the Williston Oil Basin, which was discovered in 1951 (and which recently has gotten attention as the Bakken Shale). Williston was named by James J. Hill after Daniel Willis James, an NP board member and, apparently, an ally of Hill’s on that board. James was also father of Arthur Curtiss James, who at one time owned more GN stock (in fact more total railroad stock) than any other individual. It is unlikely that either Willis or Arthur ever spent much time in the former’s namesake city, but the Great Northern was clearly at the heart of this oil discovery.

Passenger trains don’t get slighted in this report, as the Western Star is photographed on pages 3 and 8 while the Empire Builder is shown (on page 24 next to a drab North Coast Limited) being serviced in Seattle. There’s even a steam locomotive on page 7, though it was taken in 1892.

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