Northern Pacific Postcards

Most Northern Pacific postcards specifically advertise the North Coast Limited, but these four do not. The first, which is from about 1911, advertises NP diners without mentioning the North Coast Limited in particular. NP was the first rail line to the Pacific coast to offer dining cars in 1883, but the other roads soon followed.

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The font on the back of the next card looks fairly modern, but as a white-border card, it was probably issued before 1930. The card doesn’t say so, but the arch in the photo is usually called the Roosevelt Arch as Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone. Perhaps NP had something against one or both Roosevelts.

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In 1933, NP showed off its “Yellowstone-class (2-8-8-4) locomotive at the Chicago Century of Progress fair. Even though the locomotive was five years old at the time, it was still the longest, heaviest, and by some measures the most powerful steam engine on the rails. The following is not really a postcard as the back is blank.

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By the 1948 Chicago rail fair, NP had entered the Diesel era and showed off one of its FT locomotives by comparing it with the railroad’s first engine, the Minnetonka. Unlike Great Northern’s earliest engine, the William Crooks, the Minnetonka was just used for construction work and not to haul revenue trains. Still, the fact that the railroad was able to find the locomotive (which it had sold to a logging railroad) and restore it was pretty fortunate. Like the Crooks, the Minnetonka currently is on display in Duluth.

Click image to download a 225-KB PDF of this postcard.


Northern Pacific Postcards — 1 Comment

  1. The Minnetonka is another example of an NP recreation. There’s not much evidence it was actually the very first NP locomotive, although it might have been. It was certainly one of the first. When it was ordered, it had the name but no number and, as far as records go, it was never Number 1. It only worked on the NO ofr six years before it was sold off to a logging company, and it changed hands several times until the NP repurchased the locomotive in 1926 from another logging company. The engine never had a tender in NP service, That was added by the first logging company. It was a saddle tank engine, with a wood bunker in the rear, and the logging company added the little tender to carry more wood, but only wood. Since the NP claimed they restored it authentically, I don’t know why they wouldn’t have added the wood bunker back on and lost the tender. The stack was a straight up and down affair in NP service. The balloon stack was added when the NP was “restoring” it. The headlight is a complete fake, since the original engine never had a headlight. The large wood cab was also added by the NP as the original had a cab half the size. As you can tell by looking at the tender, the engine no longer even burned wood. It was converted to oil burning, with half the saddle tank now devoted to oil rather than water. I guess the whole thing seemed close enough back in 1926. 🙂

    Regards, Jim

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