Sunday, June 24, 2018

Notes On The Kennewick Northern

From the NP Telltale Email list.

Does anyone know if this branch ever existed on the NPRy? I have seen  stock certificates of the venture, but only unissued ones. If it were  built, where did it go? Richland? If so, there must have been at least one bridge over the Yakima River.


Not found in Railroad Names under "steam" or "electric". Could be a "paper" railroad proposed and never built. Also not found in The Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, Volume III, Oregon/Washington.  Both are pretty comprehensive in determining names, but not all inclusive. I also checked the 1893 & 1930 Official Guides, nothing there either.


What track did the Kennewick Northern build, own, operate?


To the best of my knowledge, none. The Connell Northern of a few years later performed the same function, to connect with the Central Washington line near Coulee City to avoid backhauling grain for the coast back to Spokane. That project was done in two stages, the first from near Coulee City to a connection with the GN at Adrian in 1903 when J. J. Hill and friends controlled the NP and then the Connell Northern which was completed in 1910 IIRC.

The Kennewick Northern would have gone through the desolate country that later became the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and featured an expensive bridge over the Columbia River. The NP made a good decision not to build the Kennewick Northern.


I checked Bruce Cheever’s “Development of Railroads in the State of  Washington 1860 to 1948” [Western Washington College of Education, 1949] and  he has no alphabetical listing for a Kennewick Northern listed between the  Kelso & Eastern Railroad and the Kettle Falls & Columbia Valley Railway &
Navigation Co.

However, Cheever does mention (on page 16) "With regard to the future, the outlook for further construction is bleak with one exception. It would appear probable that a railroad will be built to Hanford from some junction point on the Northern Pacific's or Union Pacific's tracks that lie to the south of the project." This was as of 1948.

Jeff Asay in his "Union Pacific Northwest" [Pacific Fast Mail 1981 (I don't yet have his recent update)] mentions the UP Richland Spur as being opened in 1949.

Is it possible that UP constructed this line as the Kennewick Northern Railway? This postwar spur diverged from UP's 1911 Yakima Branch, serving the US Government's extensive Hanford trackage. UP's Yakima Branch was abandoned beyond Richland Junction, I believe, in 1991.

I'll be pleased to learn more about the Kennewick Northern Railway Co.

Roger XXXX

The Kennewick Northern was never built. I saw an old newspaper piece about it but can not recall where or supply a cite. I think it was about 1903. I suspect it was never even incorporated.

The KN was a proposed NP branch that would have extended to Adrian as I recall. In fact, the NP built the Connell Northern line from Connell to accomplish the same purpose that the KN would have, but with VERY roughly half the miles and without an expensive bridge over the Columbia River.

The KN would have passed through today's Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The MILW did build a branch south from its main line into the desolate country that became the reservation. This was the only rail access to the site until the late 1940's when the UP built in from the south and the NP gained trackage rights, doubtless a condition of the OK to build.


Looks like stock shares are still for sale.......
On Ebay, anyway!


Thanks, Mac – a bit of googling has revealed the following:

The Kennewick Northern Railway was incorporated in 1908, apparently to build north from Kennewick up the west (right) bank of the Columbia River from Kennewick though Wenatchee to the Canadian border, presumably across from Northport, just below Trail, BC, or perhaps to the border north of Oroville.  Has anyone found a detailed description of the proposed route?

This timing would have been after Hill’s Northern Securities-era construction of NP’s Washington Central shortcut to the GN mainline at Adrian in 1902-1903 and the 1904 dissolution of Northern Securities which disallowed such NP-GN arrangements.

I suppose the Kennewick Northern was an earlier, more-elaborate NP alternative to the Connell Northern Railway which the NP incorporated and constructed in 1909-1910 to Adco, a WC connection near Adrian.  This gave them a shorter all-NP outlet for grain from central Washington.

The Kennewick Northern would also appear to have been a defensive move against the North Coast (UP), a possible GN-SP&S connection, and later the Milwaukee Road’s Hanford Branch.  Interesting that NP gave up on it in 1923, when the Wenatchee Southern scheme was still alive.

I am somewhat surprised that Cheever missed it.  I presume it did not appear in the ICC reports he used as research.  Below are some items from my internet search.  Please pardon the OCR errors.

Roger XXXX

From Minnesota Historical Society:
“Incorporated in 1908 under the laws of Washington State, the company purposed to build a railway line, heading north out of Kennewick in south-central Washington State. It ceased business and was conveyed to NP in 1923.”

From the Kennewick Courier, 1908 July 24th:
“KENNEWICK NORTHERN RAILWAY INCORPORATED The Northern Pacific to Build Branch Line from Kennewick to Canadian Boundry. Opens Up Rich Territory. The Northern Pacific railway will build the long-expected branch line up the Columbia from this place to Wenatchee and on up to the Boundary line. As before announced the surveyors are in the field running the preliminary lines between here and Priest Rapids and they already have instructions to commence on the location work asf soon as the preliminary is done. The local company has already been organized and the articles of incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State, at Olympia by Attorney B. S. Grosscup Tuesday. According to these articles the Kennewick Northern will run from Kennewick up the Columbia river to British Columbia, traversing the entire width of the state from north to south, and opening up a large territory now without railroad service and making it tributary to Kennewick. H. C. Nutt, general manager of the Northern Pacific railway; M. P. Martin, controller of the Northwest Improvement company and George H. Plummet, ern land agent of the Northern Pacific railway, sign the articles of incorporation and with F. S. Jarvis, chief clerk in the general manager's office, and J. L. Taggert, chashier in the Improvement company's office, will act as directors. The capital stock of the Kennewick Northern is fixed at #5,000,000. The nai 1 .office of the company will be at Tacoma. No part of the state of Washington is more in need of transportation facilities than the region transversed by the new line.”

From the Kennewick Courier 1908 September 25th:
“North Coast To Condemn Right of-Way. . The North Coast Railway has started condemnation secure right-of-way west of town for their line. Tuesday Sheriff Mc Neill served notices, of the action to condemn on H. M. Bartlett, Tngwall. Smith, Lauritz Smith, Rev. J. 11. Wood, P. E. Mors, Wm. Kimpel and a number of non-resident parties, owning adjoining ranches west of town. This covers all the land from the corporation line west to the point where the survey crosses the Northern Pacific Canal texcept the two pieces which they- have Already purchased from .1. F. Perry and W. H. Layson. The purchase price for the Perry right-of-way is not given out, but Iviyson secured $1200 per acre for alxmt two acres which the Company will require- It has been suggested that this action was taken by the right-of-way .department to get a first claim oil the land as against the Kennewick Northern and does preclude the idea of buying the land from the owners. Right-of-way Agent Wood has been here negotiating for right-of way in the valley most of the week.”

From the Wenatchee Daily World 1908 November 09th:
“CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT HAS BEEN UNLOADED AND WORK COMMENCED THIS MORNING AT KENNEWICK. It has been known for several months that it was the purpose of the management of the Great Northern to build a road down the river connecting the line at this place with the Spokane, Portland and Seattle railway at Kennewlck. The following telegrpahic information from Kennewick conveys the Information that work has already commenced on the line from that place, and It is thought that work will also be started from this point within a few weeks. The following Is the information received from Kennewick: Kennewick, Wash., Nov. 9.—Ten carloads of horses and grading machinery were unloaded in the yards of the Northern Pacific today. The outfit arrived this morning and attracted the attention of large crowds. While it had bten rumored that construction work would soon begin on the Kennewick Northern, and while the North Coast had a construction crew in this city for several weeks, it was not known that the Kennewick Northern was ready to begin work. The grading outfit belongs to Cochran& Woodson, and it is given out that»they are to begin work above Kennewick for the Kennewick Northern railway, the new Hill road to connect the Great Northern near Wenatchee with the Spokane, Portland& Seattle railway at this point, giving a water grade to the Coast for the great wheat sections of the Inland Empire. ) It is reported by the contractors that several more carloads will arrive tomorrow and this means a large crew of men and teams will be necessitated to use the machinery. In view of the fact that the North Coast road and the Kennewick Northern parallel each other for many miles along the Columbia, a strenuous contest for the best right 'of way is anticipated.”

From the Kennewick Courier 1912 December 20th:
“The Milwaukee now has its line constructed from Beverly toward Kennewick as far as Hanford, less than forty miles away; and the Hill system has filed the map of its projected line, which is named the Kennewick Northern Railroad, which will be 125 miles in length and is designed to connect the present main line of the Great Northern with the Spokane, Portland& Seattle at Kennewick.”

KENNEWICK NORTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY - Incorporated on July 21, 1908.  The company was to be capitalized at $5 million.  The organizers were Henry Curtis Nutt (November 12, 1863 - ) (a Northern Pacific Railway Company Vice President), George H Plummer (March 8, 1868 - June 5, 1950) (a Northern Pacific Railway Company Western Land Agent) and Michael P Martin (February 1846 - ) (a Northern Pacific Railway Company Auditor).  Trustees included John L Taggard (1868 - November 22, 1921) and F S Jarvis (both employees of the Northwest Improvement Company).  Benjamin Sidney Grosscup (1860 - January 4, 1935) (Corporation Counsel for the Northern Pacific Railway Company) was their Attorney.

Interestingly, Grosscup owned a large farm north of Richland.

Capital Stock reported as $5 million - Tenth Biennial Report, Washington State Office of the Secretary of State, October 1, 1906 to September 30, 1908.

The company constructed a standard gauge railroad extending from Kennewick.  This was a subsidiary of the Northern Pacific Railway Company.  The company was merged in 1923.  Serious enough idea to have its own stock certificate.  Benton  (1)  (2)  (5)  (29)  (91)

The Washington State Archives Central Branch website shows they have some unspecified documents on this line, reference CE303-2-23 Benton County.


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