Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association

Do you have ancestors who worked for the Northern Pacific Railway? This line was completed in 1883 and stretched for 6,800 miles across the northern tier of the United States from Wisconsin to Washington State. It opened up transportation between the Great Lakes and the Puget Sound, and became known as the "Route of the Great Big Baked Potato." Its stormy financial history ended when it merged with Burlington Northern in 1970. [1]

On my children's father's side, several ancestors worked for railroads around the Pacific Northwest, including the Northern Pacific Railway. My own great-grandfather worked as a box car painter for the NPR in Tacoma, Washington from 1919 to 1922. A couple of blog posts I've written describing the interesting history and stories of those railroad ancestors can be read here: "Every Eleven Miles" and "The Martin Family and the Great Fire of 1910."

I came across a great website the other day, looking online for images of antique postcards of Spokane: the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association. The Research Library option at the top of the page has some amazing resources: databases, photos, history, and links to other railroad archives. While there is definitely a preference toward model railroaders and railroad historians, there is plenty of information to help out the genealogist as well. Some of the databases that I found useful were the subdivision maps, depot photos and histories, and links to museums. Finally, there is a downloadable article, "Genealogy and the Northern Pacific," printed in the Fall 2009 issue of The Mainstreeter, the NPRHA's quarterly journal.

Check it out!

1. Wikipedia contributors, "Northern Pacific Railway," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Pacific_Railway (accessed 21 April 2014).

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