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 started in To the Columbia Gateway: The Oregon Railway and the Northern Pacific, 1879-1884,
author Peter J. Lewty describes the relationships between rival
railroad companies and traces the expansion of the Northern Pacific and
Union Pacific railway systems in the interior Northwest between 1885 and
1893. Recreating the prevailing atmosphere of optimism and excitement,
he chronicles the construction of the Pacific extension of the Great
Northern Railway and provides a lively portrait of railway operations on
the last frontier of American settlement.
Extensively documented and fast moving, Across the Columbia Plain is required reading for railroad enthusiasts and Northwest historians.