Great Northern Railway
- Historical Markers/Interpretive Sign, Historic Sites
- General info
The railroad grade you see before you was the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway, a precursor of the Great Northern Railway. James J. Hill, the owner, and builder, constructed this line in record time in 1887 to serve wealthy mining communities. There he offered more competitive freight rates to take business away from the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific transcontinental railroads.
As railroads competed for ascendancy, Montana’s cities vied for transportation facilities. Fort Benton had prospered as the head of steamboat navigation and the hub of freight and stage lines to settlements in Montana, Idaho, and Canada. As railroads replaced steamboats as carriers, this line bypassed Fort Benton, ending its economic importance in transportation. This line went directly to Great Falls, enabling that city to grow as an industrial and rail center.
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