Misidentified Trains

This hand-colored postcard claims to show the eastbound Oriental Limited ascending west towards the Great Northern’s old Cascade Tunnel. To reach the tunnel, which opened in 1900, the old line made a 180-degree turn at Scenic (the site of a hotel and hot springs), traveled west for several miles, then made another 180-degree turn in the Horse Shoe Tunnel near Martin Creek.


Click image to download a PDF of this postcard.

One problem with this picture is that the Oriental Limited was scheduled to leave Seattle in the evening, so it would have been dark by the time it reached this point. It is more likely that this is train number 4, the Fast Mail, which left Seattle in the morning and reached Scenic in early afternoon.

Below is a postcard showing the Horse Shoe Tunnel, the lower entrance of which was reached by a spindly steel bridge across Martin Creek. This postcard is courtesy of Lindsay Korst.


Click image for a slightly larger view.

The next postcard jumps about 40 years and 500 miles to the Flathead River in Montana. The back of the postcard identifies the train as the Empire Builder and, while it is not an official GN postcard, credits the photo to “Great Northern Railway.”


Click image to download a PDF of this postcard.

We know better, however, as we’ve previously seen this same photo on a postcard issued by the Great Northern. The official postcard says the train is actually the Western Star and credits the photo to Bob and Ira Spring, twin brothers who lived in the Seattle area.


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