DECEMBER 7, 1915 The St. Paul Road has become the first to haul both passenger and freight trains over the western mountains with electricity!

Newspapers report the eastbound Olympian has been pulled by an electric locomotive from Butte to Three Forks, Montana, 70 miles over the Continental Divide ... and the company has completed and is using the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel, just east of Seattle in the Cascades, a 2-1/2 mile engineering triumph which saves an exceptionally sharp grade and a lot of winding track.

Engineers from all over the country are studying the Milwaukee's electrification. As the plan was explained to me, mountain streams have been harnessed to provide the electric power through the construction of conversion stations at 30-mile intervals.

JANUARY 28, 1917 Electrification of the St. Paul's line from Harlowton, Montana to Avery, Idaho, a distance of 438 miles, has been so successful from an efficiency standpoint that the company has decided to electrify the 217 miles between Othello and Tacoma, Washington.

The Company then will be using electricity to pull its trains across the Belt, Rocky, Bitter Root, Saddle and Cascade mountain ranges.

DECEMBER 14, 1917 We are deep in the war that only a year or so ago seemed so far away ... already reports are coming back to this country of the first American casualties in France. Twenty shipyards in Seattle are employing more than 40,000 men and hotels and lodging houses are swamped.

The seizure of the Railroads by the government a few days ago may prove to be a significant test of whether huge industries can best be operated by private enterprise or the government.

NOVEMBER 11, 1918 This was the day all of us have been waiting for. The war is over and the Armistice has been signed in Marshall Foch's Railway coach in France. Here, as throughout the world, it was a time of celebration and thanksgiving.

MAY 13, 1920 The St. Paul Road, like all other railroads, is operating under its own steam once more and from what railroad men tell me, the government didn't leave things in very good shape. The St. Paul alone had a deficit of $51,000,000 under federal operation, I understand, and its rolling stock is pretty much depleted and depreciated.

AUGUST 26, 1920 Well, it's finally happened. As of today, women can vote. My wife considers this a personal triumph. If this trend keeps up, she may take over the store and I'll be expected to do the housework.

SEPTEMBER 13, 1920 Father writes that the St. Paul still is expanding, but this time south and east. President Harry Byram has negotiated a 999 year lease for The Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern Railway Company which gives the St. Paul Road direct access to coal fields in southern Indiana and takes it as far East as Westport, Indiana. During the war President Byram found his Railroad handicapped because it was dependent upon distant mines for fuel and decided that some day the St. Paul would tap a major coal mining area on its own.

MARCH 14,1923 the political situation in Germany again is uneasy. A former German Army corporal named Hitler started a riot in Munich in which several persons were killed and wounded ...

SEPTEMBER 1, 1924 A note from father says the St. Paul Road has moved into a new home, leaving the Railway Exchange Building on Michigan Boulevard in Chicago where the general offices have been for many years. Company headquarters now are in Chicago's Union Station.

JULY 2, 1925 Robbers almost succeeded in getting away with $3,000,000 from a St. Paul Road train enroute from Chicago to Milwaukee. Developments in the case indicate the holdup was planned by a postal inspector who has sent dozens of criminals to prison for similar crimes.

Two members of the gang "rode the rods" until the train neared Rondout, a short distance from Chicago, where they shoved guns into the faces of the train crew. The bandits forced the engineer to stop the train and other members of the gang, who had driven to Rondout, converged on the mail car.

Then one bandit accidentally shot another. The wounded man was taken to a Chicago doctor by his companions and that led to a roundup of all the men, including the postal inspector.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our oldest son who leaves on the Olympian. Railroading is in his blood for he has succeeded in getting a job with the St. Paul Road. He is assigned to the General Offices in Chicago.

  For an overview of the world-class Milwaukee Road electrification:  
- A Brief History
For detailed information on the electrification:
- A Proud Era Passes
- Early Electric Motor
- Bi-polar tug-of-war
- A "Little Joe" at Eagle Nest
- A Boxcab in the Cascades

656 electrified

route miles


document home

web version


full text

document list

Click here for a guide to this website

Contact Webmaster

Last Updated: March 03, 2009