Friday, December 26, 2014

The Real Spokane International Railway

The Spokane International Railway was a small Class I Railroad built in 1905 by D.C. Corbin. The railroad operated a 140-mile rail line from Spokane, Washington to Eastport, Idaho with a branch line connecting to the town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This railroad existed independently from 1906 to 1958 until Union Pacific purchased the line and ran the railroad as an independent subsidiary to the organization. The S.I.Ry primarily moved interchange traffic from the Canadian border to the Pacific Northwest as a way to compete with James Hill's  GN-NP railroads that dominated the region. At Spokane, the S.I.Ry connected with the Union Pacific, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and the Milwaukee Road.

The dispatcher's office was  in the downtown Spokane Railroad Station area but the yard office, loco shops and roundhouse was located on Greene Street, located two miles from downtown Spokane.  Continuing east, the railroad entered the Millwood-Trentwood Industrial area.  The SI served two major customers at a long siding along the Spokane River. The Inland Empire Paper Company located on one end of the spur line and the Perfect Cement Plant located at the other end of Irvin spur.
The main line continued east and crossed the Spokane River.  The Kaiser Aluminum Plant and a Naval Supply Depot at Trentwood-Velox were a few other customers that the railroad served in the Spokane Valley Area.
Leaving the industrial suburb, the main line headed for the Washington-Idaho state line. Traveling along the Spokane Valley, the S.I.Ry reached Grand Junction, Idaho.  Here the SI interchanged with the Milwaukee Road at this location. The SI transported MILW hoppers loaded with phosphate rock up to the Canadian border along with other commodities. Three miles east was Coeur d'Alene Junction.  This was a nine mile branchline that ran south to serve lumber related industries in Coeur d' Alene area.

 The line continues up the valley ducking under the NP main line at Athol and soon traveled along the Pend Oreille River (pronounced "pon-der-aya") which paralleled the Great Northern line through Dover. Both lines headed toward to the town of Sandpoint, Idaho.
The railroad served a lumber mill along with coal, oil, feed and seed silos in Sandpoint.  An interchange yard connected the GN and NP with the SI at a small interchange yard on the north side of town. The SI continued northeast out of Sandpoint and up the forested valley and meadows which serviced short spur tracks to load log flats at Naples and Forest Siding.  Just north, the town of Bonners Ferry located along the edge of the Kootenai River is where the railroad serviced a sawmill, grain elevator and oil- coal wholesalers. Another interchange track was located here that connected to the Great Northern Railway before heading east.

The railroad crossed the Kootenai River to leave town and headed north to climb up Moyie River Canyon and ending at Eastport, Idaho- Kingsgate, BC where all traffic was interchanged with the Canadian Pacific.

View the Spokane International RS-1 Freight