Kalispell-Somers Railroad Spur Line

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Kalispell 59901,Flathead Area

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In 1901, Great Northern Railway tycoon James J. Hill and local businessman John O’Brien joined forces to build and operate an 11-mile railroad line to a sawmill on the north shore of Flathead Lake. Hill built this spur line in record time and provided financial assistance for the construction of the sawmill. In return, O’Brien supplied 600,000 railroad ties annually to the Great Northern Railway until 1906 when Hill acquired sole ownership of the sawmill. At Somers, O’Brien built 122 residences and a general store to provide housing and support services to the workers and their families. By 1910, the Somers Lumber Company sawmill was the largest in the Flathead Valley, producing over 30 million board feet of lumber every year. Freight and passenger trains passed over the spur line daily carrying travelers between the Great Northern depot in Kalispell and the steamboat terminal at Somers. The sawmill closed and was dismantled in 1949. The Burlington Northern Railroad used this spur line until 1985.

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