Across the Columbia Plain

Peter J. Lewty
In just a few years of prosperity, between 1886 and 1891, a wave of railroad construction broke across the sparsely populated inland plain of the Pacific Northwest. Racing to secure strategic routes and sources of traffic, the railway promoters built an extensive and bewildering network of competing lines. Continuing the saga he commenced in To the Columbia Gateway: The Oregon Railway and the Northern Pacific, 1879-1884 (WSU Press, 1987), Peter Lewty describes the region's dramatic railroad boom in the years 1885 to 1893. Recreating the prevailing atmosphere of optimism and excitement, he traces the expansion of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific systems in the interior Northwest, chronicles the construction of the Pacific extension of the Great Northern Railway, and presents a multi-faceted portrait of railway operations on the last frontier of American settlement.

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