In what may have been another attempt to preempt Union Pacific’s upcoming centennial for completion of the first transcontinental railroad, Northern Pacific decided to make 1964 its centennial year, even though nothing happened that year other than President Lincoln signing a law agreeing to give the largest railroad land grant in history to anyone who would build a railroad from Lake Superior to the Puget Sound. Initially, that person would be Jay Cooke, the banker who helped Lincoln finance the North in the Civil War.
The financial panic of 1873 (and not, as the timetable implies, Indian wars and “unforeseen engineering difficulties”) ended Cooke’s involvement in the project. But before that, Cooke decided to drum up business for his railroad by sending an expedition to the rumored Yellowstone country, and then successfully lobbied Congress into making that a national park. That proved to be a major source of passenger business for the railroad for many years after Cooke dropped out of the project.