Great Northern Rail Line Montana

A Tale of Two Railroads

Before branch lines of the railroads were built in the northeast part of Montana, supplies were freighted in from the “mainline” by team and wagon. A stage route followed the same route as the ancient Wood Mountain Trail for years carrying mail and passengers.

At that time the two railroads—the Soo and the Great Northern—were fierce competitors. When word got out that the Soo planned to build a branch line just south of the Canadian border, the Great Northern hurried up to build one of its own. That competition created two railroad lines only seven miles apart, both within 15 miles of the border. The next closest railroad line was 50 miles to the south.

The railroad had a custom of setting up a siding and depot about every six miles. Towns sprung up at these depots. Look at the distances between the towns of Flaxville, Madoc, Scobey, Four Buttes, Gluten, and Peerless.