Northern Pacific (NP) was the second transcontinental railroad. It
was chartered to connect Puget sound and the Great lakes. The Great
Northern (GN) built a branchline south to Laurel from Great Falls
MT. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) built north (from
Denver CO) into an existing NP branch to the south of Laurel. The
CB&Q also built a line north (from Kansas City) to the NP mainline
at Huntley MT, 29 miles east of Laurel. These lines were originally
built to interchange in Billings but there was not room in the
Yellowstone river valley at Billings for a large yard so Laurel was
established in 1906-1909 16 miles to the west. Laurel is also
roughly the midpoint of the NP mainline. The North Coast Limited (NCL)
was the premier passenger train on the NP.
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