Great Northern Railway Historical Society

2016 Spokane Convention Info

Welcome to Spokane, The Lilac City, Heart of the Inland Empire, for the 2016 GNRHS convention September 17 to 21. There will also be an optional circle tour after the convention starting September 22 and ending September 24th.

The 2016 convention will focus on the history of the Great Northern in the Spokane area. We will cover the entire Hillyard yard, the heart of the Spokane Division, including the Diesel Shops, the Car Shops, and the WFE yard and shop.


Presentatioms will cover the downtown Spokane and SC&P yards and all Spokane area branch lines, with emphasis on those located north of Spokane. Presenters will discuss the line from Hillyard to Kettle Falls and all stations between the two points, the entire line from Kettle Falls to Nelson B.C. and from Kettle Falls to Curlew and Republic including the Eureka Gulch. In addition there will be a presentation on the line from Curlew over Molson Hill into Oroville. There will be five modeling presentations. Some will be centered on this area and this early time frame.


Saturday’s tour will travel from Spokane to the former GN yard at Sandpoint and we will tour the former GN main line from Sandpoint to Newport, stopping to observe points of interest along the line.

At Newport we will tour the museum in the old Milwaukee Depot that is right next to the former GN Depot, which is now owned by Stimson Lumber Company and looks the same as it did in the GN days. We will have lunch at Newport and head for Usk to view the POVA car shops.

Please note: The Train excursion from Ione to Metaline Falls that was described in the December GOAT will NOT be included in this tour. The train excursion is no longer running.

On Monday we’ll have a tour tracing the Great Northern and its subsidiaries in the Spokane area (lunch included). Even though not much is left of the Great Northern, this tour will show where the GN ran and where those well know GN Spokane photos were taken, while also visiting remaining GN sites and equipment in the area.

There will be two non-rail tours during the convention, one to Historical Homes, lunch included and a Spokane Valley Winery Tour, again with lunch included.

Please see the Detailed Tour Information Sheet for details on all tours.

There will be several changes to this year’s convention:

  1. The Rail Fair will start two hours earlier – at 11 AM; Set-up will start at 8 AM; if you have friends that would like to sell at the convention but aren’t current members, encourage them to buy a table at $50. That price will give them a 1-year membership in the GNRHS and allow them to register for and enjoy the annual convention as a member!
  2. We have arranged the timecard to allow a 15 minute “stretch break” between speakers.
  3. There will be no “door prizes” at this year’s convention. Instead we are focusing on providing more raffle prizes of value to the membership. If you happen to have something that you think your fellow GNRHS members would appreciate AND you want to donate your item to the raffle, please us know. We will provide you with a donation receipt. We hope to be able to display raffle items and sell raffle tickets throughout the convention. You will need to be present at the banquet to win your prize. (Do you suppose Steve Eckman will find another lantern in his barn??)

Please see the Convention Timecards for detailed information.


Our convention headquarters will be the Red Lion Hotel at the Park which is only a gentle stroll from the former Great Northern depot, of which the clock tower is still standing. The Red Lion Inn at the Park Hotel will supply free shuttle service to and from the Amtrak station and the Airport. Hotel rates include the Roaring Start Breakfast Buffet.

Please see the Hotel Information Sheet for more information and how to reserve.

Post convention Circle Tour

Update 4/11/2016: This tour is now fully subscribed. Names will be taken for a wait list in case of cancellations. Please contact the Convention Registrar at or by phone at 406-270-6758 when interested.

Following the convention, convention organizers are offering what will be a once in a lifetime optional three day circle tour of the Republic Branch, Molson Hill, Oroville, and the Wenatchee-Oroville branch with John Langlot and Mac McCulloch, authors of “The Rusty Dusty: Great Northern’s Wenatchee-Oroville Branch” which they plan to introduce at the convention. The tour will start Thursday morning, the day after the convention.

Please see the Circle Tour Page for detailed information.

New Book Introduction: 'The Rusty Dusty'

The Rusty Dusty: Great Northern Railway’s Wenatchee-Oroville Branch. This new book, a comprehensive look at the Great Northern’s expansion strategy west of Devil’s Lake, ND under the brilliant leadership of James J. Hill, is set against the historic and geographic conditions of the time and especially in the state of Washington. It includes construction and operational detail, with numerous route maps and photographs that capture the history of this significant line, which promoted and supported the economic rise of a tree fruit industry that literally feeds the nation. Written by GNRHS members and former Great Northern Railway employees John Langlot and Mac McCulloch, The Rusty Dusty will be introduced at the 2016 GNRHS Convention in Spokane. The authors’ combined experience with Great Northern span more than 45 years and make them uniquely qualified to examine and interpret the Great Northern’s remarkable history in eastern Washington.

The Rusty Dusty: Great Northern Railway’s Wenatchee-Oroville Branch can be pre-ordered with your convention registration.

Please see the Rusty Dusty Information Sheet for details.


Register Online or mail in the convention registration form included in the March issue of the Goat. This form is also available for download . Registration closes August 12. Late registration and registration at the convention will be available. See the registration form for details.


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