Great Northern Railway Historical Society

Welcome to the Great Northern Railway Historical Society

The GNRHS is dedicated to the preservation, study, and history of one of America's greatest railroads, the Great Northern Railway.

To Society Members, we offer carefully-researched Reference Sheets, a quarterly GN Goat publication, an annual calendar, discounts on model kits, books, CD's and other items, and an annual convention to discover all that is the Great Northern Railway.

For researchers the GNRHS Archives have historic documents and photos available on a wide range of subjects covering the Great Northern.

For a quick overview of all the GNRHS has to offer, checkout the menu at the top of the page or choose a link for more detailed information.

Latest News

The June Goat Has Shipped

The June 2019 GNRHS Goat package has shipped to our Members.

See its contents.

Copies of this issue are available for purchase through our Company Store for both members as well as non-members.

NEW! The Goat is also available as a digital download (PDF).

Consider joining today to get the Goat included FREE in your membership, and to get other great GNRHS products at a discount. Join here!

  Posted on June 19, 2019, by

Hustle Muscle Heads North

Great Northern SD-45 No. 400, “Hustle Muscle,” has returned with its newly rebuilt 20 cylinder Diesel engine to the Duluth-Superior area. The fully repaired locomotive with the beautifully rebuilt prime mover by the Topeka System Maintenance Terminal of BNSF was released from the railroad’s Northtown Diesel Shop late in March, ready for road tests. The opportunity to return HM to the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul for use in Wisconsin has not been afforded to GNRHS. The availability of No. 400 in fully operational status created uncertainty for the Museum last year as it began planning for the 2019 season at their railroad excursion line in Wisconsin. MTM informed GNRHS on March 14th that No. 400 would therefore not be used in the motive power pool at Osceola. The restored engine would likely remain at MTM in the Jackson Street Roundhouse facility with little opportunity for use as an operating locomotive.

Negotiations with Lake Shore Railroad Museum in Duluth were initiated on March 22nd and at this writing, an agreement is near completion to have the locomotive provide service in the engine pool at the North Shore Scenic Railroad which operates between Duluth and Two Harbors. Hustle Muscle was in operation at NSSR in years past before moving to Jackson Street and MTM in 2010. Discussions have also been underway to explore the possibility No. 400 could make an appearance at the annual GNRHS convention this summer in Fargo. That can now be confirmed!

No. 400 was transported from Minneapolis to BNSF Superior the afternoon of June 5th through the extraordinary generosity of BNSF. Hustle Muscle will await delivery to the Museum while final action on the new lease is completed. Plans then call for BNSF to transport the locomotive to this year’s GNRHS Convention for display on BNSF trackage near the Dilworth Yard Office in Minnesota, just east of Fargo. Conventioneers will enjoy lunch and view several pieces of Northern Pacific equipment and a depot on the July 22nd tour before boarding the buses for the short distance to the Yard Office. An additional chance for attendees to visit the engine is under consideration and will be announced at the Convention. Please be aware these are likely to be the only opportunities to visit No. 400 during our annual event as the location is on Railroad property which restricts public access.

A full illustrated account of Hustle Muscle’s last two years will be featured in the September “Goat.”

  Posted on June 7, 2019, by

Chas Bettendorf Named New “Goat” Editor

It gives me great pleasure to announce GNRHS has a new editor for our Goat publication. He is Chas Bettendorf and hails from North Branch, Minnesota. Here’s how Chas describes himself and his interest in volunteering for this important assignment:

Greetings fellow Great Northern Railway enthusiasts. I’m pleased to introduce myself as the newest editor of the Great Northern Goat, the quarterly publication of the GNRHS.  I believe I possessed the single-most important trait that the GNRHS Board was seeking in an editor—a willingness to say yes.  I’ve been a rail fan all my life.  I was born and raised in Foley, Minnesota, and have spent the last 34 years teaching history and economics to the youth of east central Minnesota.

I know I’ve sat passively on the sidelines too long and watched other enthusiasts deftly lead this organization both directly and indirectly. I encourage more of you to consider my example and also seek opportunities to support this operation.  It certainly is a risk, but there is plenty of guidance to support you. To that end I’m very appreciative of Phil Webb, who will continue to serve as the layout and photo editor for the Goat. I must certainly express my admiration and appreciation for the support I have received from our outgoing editor, Ed Stankard. I’ve had valuable, lengthy conversations with these two gentlemen, as well as Bill McGinley, our president. There are also many others who I have exchanged communication with, and others whom I plan to connect with in the near future. There is a wealth of knowledge and interest in this organization. While I might feel overwhelmed at the moment, I trust that with the support and guidance of all these enthusiasts, the Goat will continue to be a valued publication for the members of this organization for years to come.

I’ll appreciate and welcome any support and suggestions for the Goat publication.  The GNRHS must remain true to the members and strive to meet their needs and wants. Until I am assigned the official email address for the editor, I can be reached at my personal email account: If you wish a phone or personal conversation just email me and we can set that up. 

Chas Bettendorf

Chas has begun working with Editor Stankard on the June issue of the Goat for a smooth transition and will assume full responsibility after Ed steps down this summer.

  Posted on April 3, 2019, by


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Used to live in Cashmere. I didn't know the Doodlebugs came that far East. I thought they only came as far as Leavenworth. I didn't know the electrical grid went this far.

20 years ago I found the Cashmere station sign on a burn pile near the depot. I donated it to the Cashmere Historical Society when I moved to Arizona in 2017.

I wish I had a model of one for my Great Northern display cabinet. The brands are Lionel, MTH and Weaver. Are my names correct for the paint schemes over the years: 1862-1940 Glacier Park colors GN 1940-1960 Pumpkin colors GN 1960-1980 Big Sky Blue colors GN 1980-2000 Forest Green colors BN 2000-Present Heritage colors BNSF So GN had eight Y1 Boxcabs. How many W1s did it have for the Cascade Tunnel?

That building is still standing and used by Burlington Santa fee now

I love these big machines. They are so uniquely un-american in the most American way.

That's not a Doodlebug. It is a Y1. GN had 8 of them. Cashmere was a part of GN electric division, Skykomish to Wenatchee, which operated until 1959 when the 8 mile tunnel fan was installed.

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GN 400, the "Hustle Muscle" SD45 heads north! See details on the front page of and in the June GNRHS Goat magazine ... See MoreSee Less

GN 400, the Hustle Muscle SD45 heads north! See details on the front page of and in the June GNRHS Goat magazine


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I’m wondering if they used 400 going up there as part of the consist it would have been good to have that prime mover work and I also want to say kudos and a big thanks to the BNSF for doing what they did......reinstall a new prime mover and then transported the unit to Duluth........Way to go BNSF thank you very much!!!!

Skykomish WA
GNRHS Archives Werkema collection
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Skykomish WA
GNRHS Archives Werkema collection
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