Sunday, June 1, 2008

Building of the CW branch

The NP built a branch to compete with the eastern section of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern.. It was called the Central Washington. NP records indicate that between December 6th, 1887, and February 25th, 1888, surveys were made and a line located diverging from the main line at Cheney and extending westward through portions of Spokane, Lincoln, and Douglas counties across the middle crossing of the Grand Coulee, a distance of 115 miles. It was a very good line, under 1% grade, with light work except for some areas where the rock came to the surface. The area was rich and fertile second only to the Palouse.

To forestall the Lake Shore line, the NP put G.W. Hunt to work here grading five miles through Grand Coulee in early summer 1888. This action along with the other Lake Shore problems was sufficient to allow later Central Washington construction.

Aside from the Grand Coulee work Wilson & Glenn, the contractors, did little in 1888. During 1889 the road was completed the 46 miles to Almira and a contract for the additional 15 miles to Grand Coulee was let. By May 30th, 1890, grade and bridges were completed for the entire branch and by July 1st the track was in.

When the NP acquired control of the Lake Shore in 1890 it had two branches into the Big Bend country and both could not be supported especially as the Great Northern was to be entering the region shortly. Despite this fact the eastern section of the Lake Shore was not abandoned until well after the turn of the century.

The annual meeting on October 16th 1890 it was announced that the Central Washington entered the Big Bend country of Washington and would be extended to the Okanogan mining area later.

In August, 1902, the NP decided to extend the Washington Central to connect with the GN main line west and thus possibly give another quicker line to Puget Sound. In May of 1903 Larson & Foley of Spokane started track laying from Coulee Jct. and the 21 miles to Adrian on the GN were ready September 11th.

Five years passed and in July, 1908, a line from Adrian to Connell, on the NP main line north of Pasco, was considered as a joint venture by the NP-SP&S-GN. There was no action so in June, 1909, the NP incorporated the Connell Northern and by November 1st, 1910 the 73.5 mile line Connell to Adco had completed the big loop through the Big Bend of the Columbia. This was to be a very valuable feeder to the NP in later years after the completion of Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project.

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