bdawe wrote:I've been wondering,
Why is there only one line between Portland and Seattle? Near as I can tell, this has always been the case. It seems odd to me that two cities of such age, size, and proximity have only ever been connected directly by the one line, especially given the shear number of railroads operating in either or both cities (NP, GN, UP, MILW, SP, SPS).
A few reasons:
-Only one really suitable route exists, through the Cowlitz River valley.
-NP was the original builder, but it was entangled with the UP through the OR&N company.
-UP's entanglement meant that they were able to keep a trackage rights foothold over the Seattle-Portland line. Also, their main interchange with the Canadian lines was through Spokane, so Seattle was always their terminus.
-When GN gained control over the NP, they got themselves trackage rights over the existing line. I think their rights had something to do with building the bridge between Portland and Vancouver, WA, completing a connection between Vancouver and Longview, and eliminating the Longview ferry.
-The MILW did build south to Chehalis, WA, but the Cowlitz Valley was pretty well blocked by the UP and GN/NP. Besides, the Milwaukee was bankrupted by the Pacific Coast Extension, so they had to settle for trackage rights to the Port of Longview, WA. It took until the BN merger for them to get rights to either Portland or Canada.
-SP&S was always a wholly-owned subsidiary of GN and NP, and couldn't/wouldn't compete with them.
-SP was controlled through the early 1900s by the same group that led the UP. When the Federal government finally broke that trust, there really weren't any good routes left north of Portland. Rather than fight through UP and GN/NP-controlled territory to Seattle for a somewhat minimal interchange with the MILW and undercut its own business at the Portland ports, I guess that SP decided to leave it alone.