National Geographic : 1945 Feb
GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY BETWEEN GREAT LAKES AND PACIFIC srqmi ..... . .. * \' __O TFAOS MOAK*OT JOt!,,,_ TRUE STORY: GREAT NORTHERN NEVER WILL DRIVE "LAST SPIKE" Continual Improvements of Line, Equipment and Operations Mark Railway's Progressiveness On January 6, 1893, Great Northern became a transcon tinental railway when a line extending eastward from Puget Sound was joined in the Cas cade mountains with track pushed westward from the Great Lakes. The construction crews posed that wintry day for the tradi tional "last spike" picture. But, actually the job of building and improving Great Northern never has stopped-in good times and bad! Great Northern constantly has been improving its roadbed and structures by reducing grades and curves, laying heav ierrail,buildingstrongerbridges, boring time-saving tunnels, in cluding the 8-mile Cascade Tunnel, longest in the Western Hemisphere. Steel rails are lifted by crane frdm G. N. flatcars and placed in position. Typical of the railway's for ward-looking policy is the major track relocation project now un der way on Great Northern's main line through the Flathead River canyon, bordering Glacier National Park in the Montana Rockies. Here three tunnels are being blasted through solid rock to eliminate several sharp curves. A real "last spike" has not been driven on Great Northern -and never will be! New, heavier rails and tie plates are spiked to chemically treated ties. Maintenance crews give daily atten tion to roadbed. West portal of one of three new tunnels through solid rock on G. N. main line in the Montana Rockies to expedite trainmovements. "Last spike" picture, taken January6, 1893, when crews spiked rails to gether,joiningG. N. tracksfrom theGreatLakes with thosefrom PugetSound.