Along the Northern Pacific Railway's Mainstreet, Vol. 1, No. 5,
November, 1967, p. 1.
Authorization to build a 55-mile branch line to serve the Wahluke
Slope area in Grant County, Wash., was received by the Northern
Pacific from the Interstate Commerce Commission on Oct. 5.
Completion of the branch line construction will enable the
Northern Pacific to provide direct rail service to and from a newly
developing agricultural area which is to receive extensive irrigation
through the Columbia Basin Project.
On acknowledging the action by the ICC, Dean H. Eastman,
Northern Pacific vice president and western counsel, said the company
is particularly pleased to receive authority for construction of the
line, and that it is a natural extension of current Northern Pacific
operations in the Columbia Basin and Tri-Cities area of Richland,
Pasco and Kennewick, Wash.
"Pasco is geographically the natural trading center for produce
from the Wahluke Slope and without direct rail access to the Tri-
Cities," he said, "the Slope would not realize its economic
Eastman said further that fruit ranches located on the Slope
will be very closely allied to the mature fruit industry of the
Yakima Valley for marketing, purchasing of supplies and for storage.
The area to be served by the railway includes 41,000 acres now
under irrigation in the Basin City area. More than 128,000 acres will
be under irrigation in the area by 1973.
Kenneth L. Cook, Northern Pacific director of agricultural
development, said the area is potentially one of the richest
agricultural producing areas in the Pacific Northwest. He predicts
that the area will soon produce some of the highest yields ever
recorded in the Pacific Northwest for several kinds of row crops
because of favorable soil and climate conditions and an exceptionally
long growing season.
The major irrigation development in the Columbia Basin Project
for the next 8 to 10 years will be in the Wahluke Slope area.
Construction of the branch line is expected to cost about $5
million. It is believe that the new stretch of track will be among
the longest constructed by any major railroad in recent years, and
railway officials said work on the new line would start as soon as
all legal problems are resolved.
The ICC denied an application from the Milwaukee Road, which
had been competing with the Northern Pacific for rights to serve the
Wahluke Slope area.