Great Northern 1913 Timetable

The cover says “local time tables,” but this is more like what in later years would be called a “condensed timetable.” While the complete Great Northern timetables of the era had a colorful cover (shown below) and were 48 pages long, this one is simply printed on green paper and has but 20 pages. While a complete timetable had things like a station index, train equipment, connecting trains, and a list of agents, after the cover page this one is nothing but timetables, presumably for every passenger train Great Northern offered.

Click image to download a 15.3-MB PDF of this 20-page timetable.

Eight trains a day went west from St. Paul, including trains 1 & 2, the Oriental Limited and 3 & 4, the Oregonian to Seattle and Portland; trains 5 & 6, a local to Minot; trains 7 & 8, the Winnipeg Limited; trains 9 & 10 and 29 & 30, locals to Grand Forks; and 11 & 12, a local to Fargo. GN had more than one route between Minneapolis and Fargo and between Fargo and Minot, so it needed multiple locals to serve all these routes.

For comparison, this is the cover to a 96-page full timetable issued by the GN in the early teens. Click image for a larger view.

West of Fargo/Grand Forks, the trains thin out, but in addition to trains 1 & 2 and 3 & 4, there was at least one local train all the way from St. Paul to Seattle. Most went only a hundred miles or so between major cities and were timed to operate in daylight, so anyone trying to travel cross-country on local trains would spend a lot of nights in towns such as Williston, Glascow, Havre, and Whitefish.

In Shelby, Montana, the GN picked up another transcontinental train, the unnamed 43 and 44 from Kansas City on the Burlington. GN treated this train as a local, making, for example, as many as 10 flag stops in addition to three scheduled stops in the 58 miles between East Glacier and West Glacier. Despite all these stops, train 43 took only an hour and fifteen minutes longer to get from Shelby to Seattle than the Oregonian, while the latter train–which was scheduled about 12 hours apart from trains 1 & 2–took only an hour longer than the Oriental Limited to get from St. Paul to Seattle.

In addition to these mainline trains, the GN offered three trains a day between Seattle and Portland; four a day between Seattle and Vancouver, BC; and about 60 more timetables for local services all along the route. Timetable 7 reveals the Burlington had, in addition to trains 43 and 44, trains 41 and 42 from St. Louis to Billings, but the latter didn’t have through cars to the Pacific Northwest, at least on the GN. Timetables 17 and 18 show trains to Watertown and Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Not all of these timetables show Great Northern trains. In addition to SP&S and Burlington trains, various timetables show trains on the Farmers Grain and Shipping Company (from Devils Lake to Hansboro, ND), Northern Dakota Railway (from Grand Forks to Concrete), Butte, Anaconda and Pacific, the Waterville Railway (from Wenatchee to Mansfield), and Victoria and Sydney Railway. GN had at least an interest in some of these railways.

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