Home > Reference > GN Books - Part 1

Great Northern Books

Part 1

Go to part: 2


    Quite a few books have been written about the Great Northern Railway and more are being published almost every year. Many of the books below are currently available. The list below contains all pertinent information of these books plus a short description of the book which, in most cases, was taken from the publisher's description of the book. This list is by no means complete but shows most of the books that have been published on the Great Northern Railway.


You can help the restoration of GN 1291 'St Nicholas Mountain'!

Purchase your books through the links to the right of the listings below and help along the restoration of GN observation 1291 'St. Nicholas Mountain', an unique piece of Great Northern history! Your purchases will help raise much needed funds for the restoration of St. Nicholas Mountain


    To contribute with all your purchases at Amazon.com please bookmark our Bookstore and enter the Amazon.com website via this bookmark.

Click here to bookmark the St. Nicholas Mountain Bookstore now.   


All Aboard for Glacier

The Great Northern Railway and Glacier National Park


by Carol W. Guthrie

Farcountry Press, 2004

2222 Washington St, Helena, MT 59601

ISBN: 1-56037-276-1

    The main line of the Great Northern Railway stretched from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington through the prairies and plains of North Dakota and Montana, over the rugged Rocky Mountains, and through the splendid canyons of the Cascades to the Pacific. But it was the sixty-mile stretch of rail from east of the Rockies through Montana's Marias Pass and along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River - bordering the grandeur and breathtaking scenery of what would become Glacier National Park - that lured people from all over the world to the conductor's call for "all aboard". Glacier National Park and the Great Northern Railway became synonymous in the early 20th century. Original photographs, posters, menus, postcards, and other rare materials support this fascinating pictorial history of the creation and promotion of the park by Great Northern as railroad barons raced west and competed for precious territory to expand their empires.


Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway 2002 Locomotive Review and Freight Car Directory


by Robert C. Del Grosso

Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2002

Route 4, Box 627A Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805


    This book reviews the BNSF locomotive and freight car fleet during 2001. Sections are included on new deliveries, owned and leased locomotive rosters with builder data and dates, renumber and repaint dates, retirements and more. Freight car rosters show the current fleet and heritage of BNSF owned freight cars. Includes BNSF, AT&SF, BN, CB&Q, Great Northern, NP, SP&S plus subsidiary number series.


Conquest And Catastrophe: 

The Triumph And Tragedy Of The Great Northern Railway Through Stevens Pass


by T. Gary Sherman

Authorhouse, 2004

1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403

ISBN: 1418495751

    It is fair to say that the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad to Seattle and Puget Sound in 1893 remains the most historically economic event in the Pacific Northwest. James J. Hillís relentless ambition to tap the resources of the Northwestern United States and then the Orient. He put the great engineer, John F. Stevens in charge of finding a pass through the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. This crossing would cause Jim Hill and the Great Northern to continually experience difficulties that cost the railroad unknown fortunes in man-made and natural disasters. Accidents and disasters that would finally culminate in the worst avalanche disaster in this countryís history. The Wellington Avalanche is described in this book in the most detailed manner ever published. However, an aspect never before examined, is the story of the Japanese laborer who worked on the Great Northern. It is a sad story in railroad history. It is the story of a number of outstanding businessmen who enhanced their fortune and power by the illegal importation and exploitation of thousands of Japanese. Ruby El Hult, author of "Northwest Disaster" says "Gary's book is a scholarly and well documented story of both the best and the worst of how the northwest grew from struggling logging communities, to diverse cities of aerospace, high technology, and important international port cities."


The Deschutes River Railroad War


by Leon Speroff

Arnica Publishing, 2007

3739 SE Eighth Ave, Suite 1, Portland, OR 97202

ISBN: 978-0-9745686-6-9

    Tracing the geological and railroad history of the Pacific Northwest, Leon Speroff evokes the Age of the Railroad in his book, The Deschutes River Railroad War. With intricate detail, expert understanding and amusing anecdotes, he brings to life this fascinating true tale of the race to expand railroad service from the Columbia River up the Deschutes River to Bend, Oregon.

When the two railroad barons, James J. Hill of the Great Northern and Edward H. Harriman of the Union Pacific, both set their sights on the Deschutes River Canyon for building a railway to Bend, neither man could have foreseen the massive expenditure of money, time, energy and human lives that characterized their mad rush to the finish.

At the heart of this gripping story is the essence of the American West and the magnates, workers, immigrants and settlers whose impact on the region would usher the age of railroad transportation into the twentieth century.


Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads

Steam - Locomotives and Trains - 1932-1959


by Robert K. Durham

Robert K. Durham, 1999

Auburn, PA 17922

ISBN: 1-891427-06-7


    Page-sized B&W pictures of Great Northern and Northern Pacific steam locomotives from the collection of Robert K. Durham. Also included are two pictures of Great Northern electrics.


Great Northern Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment


by David H. Hickcox

Morning Sun Books, Inc., 1995

9 Pheasant Lane, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

ISBN: 1-878887-41-6

    This book looks at the Empire Builder in its glory days with specialized cars representing the ultimate in passenger equipment and the other more mundane passenger equipment of the GN which, if not as spectacular, went about the business of meeting the needs of the railroad and its customers. Freight equipment is organized by type of car. Maintenance-of-way and other equipment in company service and cabooses, which gave the Great Northern much of its unique personality, are covered as well. We have tried to provide a representation of the GN's equipment during the age of color photography, providing grist for the historian and detail for the modeler. While every type of car, especially specialized equipment, may not be covered, this volume provides a good view of what the Great Northern looked like behind the locomotives. Join us trackside for a journey through time on the Great Northern.


Great Northern Color Pictorial - Volume 1

The Electrics, Last of Steam, First Generation Diesels


by Joseph W. Shine

Four Ways West Publications, 1992

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 0-9616874-6-0

    Features the electrics in the Cascade Range, first generation diesels in the Omaha orange & Pullman green scheme with complete diesel & electric loco rosters and a glimpse at the last of GN steam.


Great Northern Color Pictorial - Volume 2

Division Assignment - Pictorial, Second Generation Diesels, The Big Sky Blue Era


by Joseph W. Shine

Four Ways West Publications, 1993

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 0-9616874-7-9


    This book features GN's second generation diesel locomotives in both Omaha orange and Pullman green as well as the modern Big Sky Blue paint schemes. Sky Blue first generation units are also included. There is an all-time roster of every locomotive painted Sky Blue with both GN and BN numbers listed. Also featured is GN motive power operations on foreign roads and pictorial assignment rosters of all six divisions.


Great Northern Pictorial - Volume 3

Rocky's Clean Window Trains


by John F. Strauss, Jr.

Four Ways West Publications, 1993

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 0-9616874-8-7

    The Great Northern Railway was somewhat tardy in joining the Streamlined Era, but when it did so in 1947, it became an aggressive participant with enthusiasm. Within a short 10 year period, 1947-1956, the Great Northern had completely modernized, streamlined, and domed its main line passenger trains. The material presented in this book covers the pre-streamlined era on the GN (heavyweight cars and steam), the post-war streamlined equipment, the 1951 'surprise' of all-new equipment ordered for The Empire Builder, and the era of domed equipment. Included are many color and B&W photographs, consists, schedules, diagrams, advertising illustrations and more.


Great Northern Pictorial - Volume 4

Rocky's Northwest Postman and New Companions 


by John F. Strauss, Jr.

Four Ways West Publications, 1994

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-01-2


    Continuing John F. Strauss, Jr.'s colorful coverage of Great Northern passenger trains and operations this book features the pre-streamlined era trains, the mail trains, the short haul streamliners, the semi-streamliners and the workhorses. These trains include - The Fast Mail, Winnipeg Limited, Red River Limited, Oriental Limited, Alexandrian, Gopher and Badger Express, Night Express, Cascadian, The American and Canadian, International Limited, The Coast Pool Trains, branch line locals and mixed trains and much more. Also included is a list of 1947 - 1970 Streamlined Era Passenger Trains and Streamlined Era Passenger Car Roster.


Great Northern Pictorial - Volume 5

Rocky's Robe of Many Colors


by John F. Strauss, Jr.

Four Ways West Publications, 1998

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-22-5

    In the third book in this series, John F. Strauss covers Great Northern's passenger operations during its last decade. A period of major downsizing but maintaining a well run passenger operation worthy of the Great Northern name.



Great Northern Pictorial - Volume 6

Your Freight Goes Great When it Goes Great Northern                           


by John F. Strauss, Jr.

Four Ways West Publications, 2002

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-52-7

    John Strauss brought us the history of GN's vast passenger operations in Great Northern Pictorial - Volumes Three, Four and Five, and now he emphasizes freight services during Rocky's steam/electric and diesel eras. See the Fall grain rush, high speed Just-In-Time services, livestock transport, ore and taconite trains, the beginnings of unit train operations, the transition from GN to BN freight train services, and much more. This is the first time such an in-depth project focuses on the freight operations of a major western railroad.


Great Northern Pictorial - Volume 7

Faster Schedules - Great For Freight


by John F. Strauss, Jr.

Four Ways West Publications, 2003

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-58-6

    This volume is a continuation of GN Pictorial Volume Six. Great Northern Pictorial Volume Seven covers GN freight train operations between 1966 and 1970, and the transition from GN to BN's early years of freight train operations. Emphasis is placed on faster schedules in response to increasing competition. These faster schedules were made possible through acquisition of more powerful locomotives and modernized, larger capacity cars. Overall change in products transported during this period is also covered.


Great Northern Empire Builders


by Bill Yenne

Motorbooks International, 2005

380 Jackson Street, Suite 200,St. Paul, MN 55101-3885
ISBN: 0760318476

    Named for renowned entrepreneur James J. Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railway, the incomparable Empire Builder was launched in 1929 by legendary CEO Ralph Budd. Powered by steam until 1947, the Empire Builder charged into the diesel era at full-bore with streamlined EMD E7As trailing Pullman cars from St. Paul to Spokane and generating millions for the railroad. This authoritative and richly illustrated history covers the Empire Builders through their 1970s demise. Included here are the trains, their various forms of motive power and rolling stock, and their services. A wealth of black and white archival images and period color photography depict the Empire Builders along one of the nations most scenic routes. Also shown are uniforms, dinnerware, terminals and stations, interior views of Pullman and dome cars, period advertisements, and route maps.


Great Northern Equipment Color Pictorial -  Book One

Box Cars & Stock Cars


by Scott R. Thompson

Four Ways West Publications, 1995

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-03-9

    The focus of this book is to provide a comprehensive view of the common cars of Great Northern's freight car fleet prior to the BN merger of 1970. This book does not focus on pre-WWII cars. Information presented is from GN company files, data from the AAR, and from the industry journals Railway Age and Modern Railroads. The book includes appendices with technical data on the different box and stock car types. Includes a list of references.


Great Northern Equipment Color Pictorial -  Book Two

Freight Cars


by Scott R. Thompson

Four Ways West Publications, 1996

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-11-X

    The significant theme that resonates throughout this volume is the diversity of car types that were once owned by the railroad. A number of car types that are depicted in this book were at the time considered "specialized" cars. Specialized cars were usually dedicated to hauling a specific type's of commodity or product. Appendices at the end of the book document technical data.


Great Northern Equipment Color Pictorial -  Book Three

Western Fruit Express, Cabooses, Maintenance-of-Way


by Scott R. Thompson

Four Ways West Publications, 2000

14618 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638

ISBN: 1-885614-35-7

    Here is presented information and photos of Western Fruit Express ice bunker reefers (wood and steel), insulated box cars and mechanical reefers. Also included are GN cabooses, maintenance equipment , crew and material cars, snow fighting equipment, cranes and wrecker derricks are just some of the specialized equipment covered in photos and captions. Company motor vehicles and caboose and maintenance equipment rosters finish out the book. Includes bibliography and research references.


The Great Northern in Minnesota

The Foundations of an Empire


by John C. Luecke

Grenadier Publications, 1997

St. Paul, MN

ISBN: 0-9621020-4-0

    This book covers the history of the road from the first shovel full of dirt to the Burlington Northern merger in 1970. More than 300 pages, 275 photographs and over a dozen maps tell the story of the Great Northern in Minnesota. From the very first railroad trip in Minnesota on the St. Paul & Pacific to the sleek luxury of the Empire Builder, from the tiny wooden roundhouses of the 1860s to the massive monuments to locomotive maintenance of the turn of the century, from the William Crooks to Hustle Muscle, it's all part of this history of the Great Northern Railway in Minnesota and the founding of James J. Hill's Empire.


Great Northern's Kettle Falls, Washington Branch


by Dale Jones

D.W. Jones Photography - Railroads of Montana, 2001

P.O. Box 1835, Kalispell, MT 59903-1835



    Discover the fascinating story of this seldom seen Great Northern branch through dozens of B&W and color photos. Includes a copy of the 1911 Great Northern Timetable.


Great Northern - Lines East

Second Edition


by Patrick C. Dorin with Richard W. Hendrickson and Staffan Ehnbom

Signature Press, 2001

11508 Green Road, Wilton, CA 95693

ISBN: 0-9633791-8-6

    Lines East is the story of the eastern divisions of the Great Northern, and presents detailed and dramatic accounts of operations over these lines, particularly dealing with the last forty years before the merger into Burlington Northern. A wide variety of traffic was carried on Lines East, an intense passenger service of both local and long-distance trains, and also considerable freight. Part of the story of this traffic lies in the modernization of the railroad, first with heavy steam locomotives and then with diesels. Well-know author Patrick Dorin vividly describes Lines East territory, assisted by experts Richard Hendrickson and Stefan Ehnbom in a new and informative freight car chapter. This edition is substantially improved and enlarged from the first edition of 1989. With its companion volume, Lines West by Charles R. Wood, Lines East presents a detailed account of a vital part of one of America's most fascinating roads, the Great Northern Railway.


Great Northern - Lines West

Revised Edition


by Charles R. Wood

Signature Press, 1998

11508 Green Road, Wilton, CA 95693

ISBN: 0-9633791-7-8

    The book tells the story of the Great Northern Railway, concentrating on its western half, the Lines West, which conquered both the Rocky and Cascade Mountains. From its earliest beginnings in 1857, to the completion of the line to the Pacific Coast in 1893, to the modernization of the railroad, first with heavy steam locomotives and then with diesels, and to the merger into Burlington Northern in 1970, the sweep of this great history is here. Noted Northwest railroad historian Charles R. Wood has combined extensive research and a superb collection of photographs to produce an outstanding history of this noteworthy railroad.



Continue to GN Books - Part 2