a few generations ago,
route of the Empire Builder was
wilderness, roamed by Native
Americans and buffalo. Later, fur
traders and gold miners visited it.
And still later, it was developed by
merchants, timber men, farmers and - most dramatically - by
from around the world travel
historic Great Northern route year round, but it is especially popular
in the summer months. The Amtrak train runs daily between Chicago and
where westbound Train 7/27 split into two trains on its way across the
Cascades to Seattle (Train 7) and down the Columbia River
Gorge to Portland (Train 27). Eastbound trains 8 and 28 leave Seattle
and Spokane each afternoon and join up in Spokane just after
midnight for their joint trip back to Chicago.
In this northern
greatest railroader of all was James J.
Hill, a freewheeling, big-dealing
tycoon who linked St. Paul and Seattle
with his Great Northern Railway. He
acquired the land, built the tracks and
even encouraged homesteading along
the route. In the process, 'Empire
Builder' Hill came to govern the fate
and fortunes of a good part of this
powerfully beautiful area... "
You'll not find a greater variety of scenery on any other route in the
USA. So head on downtown to Chicago Union Station and wait for the
I have your
attention please. Amtrak announces the boarding of Train 7 and 27, the
Empire Builder, scheduled to depart at 2:15 pm. Reservations
only for Milwaukee, Columbus, Wisconsin Dells, La Crosse, Red Wing, St.
Paul, Fargo, Minot, Glacier Park, Whitefish, Spokane, Portland,
Everett, Seattle and all scheduled intermediate stops"
James Jerome Hill
the "Empire Builder"
James Hill and his cast of thousands
constructed the Great Northern route from St. Paul across the
Northern Plains, the Rockies and the Cascades to Seattle in just 7 years,
1886 - 1893.
In August of 1886 they laid 44,000 feet, 8 1/3 miles, of railroad track
in one day.
1883 he was the force behind completing "Hill's
Folly", the old Stone Arch
Bridge that crosses the Mississippi in Minneapolis. The bridge was
completed for the then outlandish cost of $640,000 (about $14
M in 2007
it often costs $14 M or more
just to study and plan
construction of a couple of hundred miles of new rail line in the
USA, and sometimes takes 7 years or more just to get a few
miles of light rail built.
It would be
interesting to hear what old Jim Hill would have to say about today's
railroad development along his old route. Here's a brief
first round of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds
distributed on January 28, 2010 for rail develpment along or
near the Empire Builder's route.
Regional Rail Plan
- Midwest Regional Rail Initiative
The Midwest Regional Rail
Initiative (MWRRI) is a cooperative, multi-agency effort that began in
1996 and involves nine Midwest states (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa,
Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin). The
Empire Builder runs through the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and
High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Minneapolis/St. Paul -
Madison - Milwaukee - Chicago) runs through the MWRRI region. Click here
for the US DOT summary of ARRA activity in the Empire Builder corridor.
- $ - Chicago to Wisconsin
ARRA Rail Map Chicago Breaking News
received $1.23 billion
in ARRA funds, primarily for constucting the Chicago to St. Louis high
speed rail line. So far, it is unclear to us how much, if any, of the
$1.23 M would be used for improvements along the fify miles or
rail line between Chicago and the Illinois-Wisconsin State Line.
- $823,000,000 - Milwaukee to Madison High Speed Rail and Illinois to
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal -
will receive more than $800 million to build a high-speed rail line
carrying passengers between Milwaukee and Madison at 110 mph and
recapture a piece of a regional rail system largely
abandoned six decades ago".
- $1,000,000 - Wisconsin to St. Paul - Study
environmental work will begin to lay the groundwork
for connecting the
rail line through ... Minnesota at speeds of up to 110 mph.
Several route alignments will be considered in the planning process".
Northwest Rail Development
as a high-speed rail corridor in 1992, this 466-mile route houses
Amtrak corridor and long-distance trains, Sounder commuter services in
the Seattle region, and the freight trains of the owning railroad
companies (Union Pacific and BNSF).
The Empire Builder route
utilizes only about 40 miles of this corridor between Everett and
The information shown below pertains to rail development
along the entire Washington and Oregon length of the corridor.
- $590,000,000 - Blaine to Portland
federal government will spend $590 million in stimulus money to improve
rail travel times from Blaine to Portland..."
- $8,000,000 - Portland Union Station and other Corridor Improvements
Portland Business Journal
received $8 million to update the railroad infrastructure along the
Portland-to-Eugene section of the Pacific Northwest High Speed Rail
Corridor. According the the Portland Business Journal $5.9
million of that will be applied towards a $9 million rehabilitation of
the 102,000 square foot Portland Union Station.
great summer folks!!
Rail Passenger USA
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Passenger USA is a free website founded by Ramblin' Ray, an old train
travel addict who devotes most of his time to mapping USA passenger
railroad routes and preparing route guides to share with others via his