Northern Pacific and Union Pacific, rival railroads, agree to share tracks from Vancouver, Washington, to Seattle on May 17, 1909.

  • By Heather M. MacIntosh
  • Posted 2/23/1999
  • Essay 938
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On May 17, 1909, rival railroad companies Northern Pacific and Union Pacific agree to share Northern Pacific tracks reaching from Vancouver, Washington, to Seattle.

Railroad Rivalries

Competition and disputes over Northwest railroad traffic were intense during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and resulted in a series of false starts and limited railroad service.

The rivalry left its mark in the urban landscape in the presence of two railroad terminals built virtually side by side on 4th Avenue and Jackson Street -- Union Station and King Street Station. Both were officially "union stations," that is, stations in which two or more lines share the same terminal.

The compromise meant that the two railroads shared certain tracks and enjoyed separate but equal positions near established rail lines and freight areas.


Carlos A. Schwantes, Railroad Signatures Across the Pacific Northwest (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993), 156.

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