Via Rail

1883 Inaugural Run Through Helena
Northern Pacific Rail Road - St. Paul to Portland

Regular service began June 15, 1883.

 


Helena's First Northern Pacific (Union) Depot, 1885
Still Standing in Helena at 1330 E. Lyndale

The original Northern Pacific Depot, 1885. It was designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert. The brick building, in the background with six chimneys, is Theodore Welcome's Elite Saloon.





MANSFIELD LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA



The Grand Pacific Hotel, Across Helena Ave. from the Depot


MANSFIELD LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA




MANSFIELD LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA



Edison Footage of the Overland Express Arrving in Helena, Summer of 1897


LIBRARY OF CONGRESS


The Original Depot Still Stands, at 1330 E. Lyndale

From historian Ellen Baumler's excellent book, "Historic Helena Walking Tours", available at the Montana Historical Society:

"Circa 1903, the depot was moved to this site where it served as the Central Presbyterian Church until 1914. During its life as a church, the bell tower was added to the east side. From the end of the 1920s to the mid-1930s, the Helena Rug Company manufactured rugs there. The building now houses apartments."




1904 Northern Pacific (aka Union) Depot


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

The 1904 Northern Pacific (aka Union) Depot, designed by architect Charles A. Reed (1858-1911), who also designed New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

 

 

 

 

"The Beanery" - Northern Pacific Depot Lunch Room


DAVID HULL COLLECTION

"The Beanery" was the popular name for the Northern Pacific lunch room, which operated at least until the 1960s. Does anyone have a current photo of this space? If so, please let me know.

 

 

 

Off to Fight "The War to End All Wars"

Troop train at the Northern Pacific Depot taking Montana boys off to World War I



Farewell to Montana Troops at the Depot, probably 1916


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD



Earthquake Damage, 1935

 

Repairs Underway


COURTESY OF THE DAVID POOR COLLECTION • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW




Northern Pacific Depot from Helena Ave., 1937


THE TED KIRKMEYER COLLECTION - COURTESY OF TOM MULVANEY



Northern Pacific Depot sign, 1957


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

 

 

Northern Pacific Depot seen from N. Sanders St., 1957...


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

On the right, at 1501 Railroad Ave., was Pete's Corner, a fountain and confectionary.



...the same view, May 2008


COURTESY OF MIKE MILLEGAN

 

Northern Pacific "Mainstreeter" at the Depot, August 21, 1969


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW

Northern Pacific Depot Clock

NP Depot Clock Tower, 1957
Refurbished NP Depot Clock Tower, 2007
Photo by Jean O'Blenis
Photo by Terry Bass

 

2012 Photos of the Seth Thomas Clock Mechanism, Courtesy of Darrell Beckstrom


The clock is wound every week by an employee of Burlington Northern. There is no bell.


The clock's serial number is 1200, placing the manufacturing date at around 1901. It is probably a No. 15 model; compare the photos to the 1911 Seth Thomas catalog illustration below...

 





 

2012 Depot Rooftop Panorama, Looking East


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Many thanks to Darrell Beckstrom for sharing his great clock tower photos!



Thomas E. Dewey at the Union Depot, 1948


COURTESY OF MIKE MILLEGAN

1948 Republican Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey at Union Depot, Sept. 29, 1948. Standiing on Dewey's right is Montana Governor Sam C. Ford. The man standing behind Dewey, wearing pinstripes and a large campaign button, is Sidney Millegan, chairman of the Lewis & Clark Country Republican Central Committee.

Dewey's special campaign train of 17 cars stopped in Helena enroute from Missoula to Great Falls. He rode in a parade through downtown, then spoke at Hill Park.

This from the Independent Record:

"As the Dewey car led the parade south on Helena avenue and into Main street, two jeeploads of photographers cruised alongside and slightly ahead of the Dewey car. Following the lead of the parade was a car in which Gov. and Mrs. Sam C. Ford were seated, and that was followed first by a car containing United States Senator and Mrs. Zales N. Eaton and then by more than a dozen cars filled with newsmen and party workers.

Hundreds of Helena residents lined the streets to see the candidate as the parade proceeded
down the city's Main street then back, to the Main and Lawrence intersection, where the parade swung west on Lawrence and then east on Park to the Hill park stand prepared for the speakers."

 

Northern Pacific Roundhouse and Shops, About 1920


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The Depot and Section House at Birdseye


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This view looks east-northeast from the hills south of the railroad tracks at Birdseye, about seven miles northwest of Helena, as the crow flies. The larger building in the foreground is lhe Birdseye depot; the section house can be seen in the distance, on the right-hand side of the photo. Here is an enlarged view of the section house...

Railroad history buff Dan Stinson writes about these structures:

"The depot has a signal to stop trains to take orders and a telegraph bay where information regarding train movements and orders for passing trains could be transmitted to and from the dispatcher's office and hooped up to those trains. That structure was almost identical to the depot at Austin, near the Austin schoolhouse, which was torn down in the '80s if I remember correctly.

The larger structure [section house] has living accommodations, and it's possible the telegrapher (I hesitate to call them an agent as there was likely very little cash business transacted) lived there, but it was not where he worked."

 


Two Views of the Birdseye Section House, circa 1905


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Possible Remains of the Section House Foundation
46°39'44.02"N 112° 8'38.61"W

 

Railroading Scenes from the Marysville Area

A special Northern Pacific train in Marysville, MT, July 4, 1900. It's possible that this special train was going to Helena for the day's festivities.

 

Two circa 1903 Views of the Marysville Trestle
Photographer Unknown


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW



Marysville Depot, 1910

 

Saw Mill Canyon

Trestle in Saw Mill Canyon, near Marysville, Montana, ca. 1897. The photograph is by Charles E. Morris, a noted early Montana photographer who published postcards in Chinook and Great Falls.

The postcard was published by William H. Murgittroyd (1867-1946), who operated a drug store in Marysville from 1895 to 1900. He moved to Spokane in 1900, and by 1915 had established Murgittroyd's Pharmacy, which became a Spokane landmark. For more about Mr. Murgittroyd, click here.

Old Northern Pacific Workhorses, Photographed in Helena

Northern Pacific locomotive No. 23,1952.

 

 

Northern Pacific locomotive No. 31, 1955.

 

Helena's Great Northern Depot
1913 - 1989

1920s postcard view of the Great Northern Railway Depot. Constructed in 1912-13, the G.N. Depot was located at the intersection of Neil Avenue and Fuller, across the street from Hill and Women's parks. The tower was damaged by the 1935 earthquakes and removed. The Great Northern vacated the building in 1955, after which it housed various offices. It was demolished to make way for the current Federal Reserve Bank Branch building in 1989.



Site of the Great Northern Depot




Great Northern Depot from Fuller Ave., ca. 1915


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

 

 

Great Northern Depot, before 1935, from Women's Park


COLLECTION OF NANCY GOODSPEED

 


Clock Tower Showing Earthquake Damage, 1935
Tower Subsequently Removed



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The Vacant Great Northern Depot Shortly Before Demolition, 1989
Take This Library of Congress Link for More Images of the Depot


 

Ride the Train from Helena to Butte, circa 1959

 


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