The Great Northern Railway was a class 1 railroad that operated primarily between Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington/Portland, Oregon. It also had major connections with the Great Lakes through Superior, Wisconsin. The premier passenger train on the line was the "Empire Builder". It was the northern most U.S. transcontinental railroad. Although it had many competitors, the Northern Pacific, Milwaukee Road and Soo Line were probably the most notable in that part of the country.
The modeled portion of the Great Northern Minot Division represents about 55 miles of the GN in western North Dakota. It is set in the early 1950's, approximately 1953, prior to the opening of the Gavin Hump Yard outside Minot in 1955. Westbound traffic is primarily into Seattle and Portland areas. Eastbound traffic is split between Great Lakes and Minneapolis/St. Paul and points East. In addition to the East/West oriented mainline, there is a branchline. This is represented as a staging area. The branchline goes north to coal mines and provides a route for a Canadian National train between Minot and Canada. To the west are the oil fields near Williston. Grain, especially wheat, is harvested and shipped throughout the area. Grain was shipped both East and West. There is a classification yard, an industrial area and some mainline for the Soo Line, which also served Minot.
The industries on the layout reflect the needs of the area. There is significant rail service for grain elevators, a flour mill, oil industry supplies, and coal hauling. Other typical industries are also represented.
Layout photos (click to enlarge):
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