and its Cars (2 of 13)
July 4, 1907 is a red-letter day in both Spokane and the Twin Cities, as well as in all the communities along this unusual route. Trains will start from each terminal simultaneously and travel in both directions to inaugurate the service. The Cranbrook Herald reports the arrival of the trains. The Soo Line route westward begins at St. Paul, up through Portal, North Dakota, and across the border onto Canadian Pacific tracks. Connecting with the CPR mainline at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the route continues west to Medicine Hat, Alberta, (actually "Dunmore Junction," since the "Hat" is several hundred feet lower and several miles away).
The route leaves the CPR mainline at Dunmore and follows the more southerly "Crowsnest route" through Lethbridge, the scenic Crowsnest Pass in the southern Canadian Rockies, on through Fernie, Cranbrook, and Yahk. Two miles south of Yahk, at "Curzon junction", the route takes the rails of the Spokane International Railway to cross the international border five miles further south at Kingsgate. The route continues 25 miles to Bonner's Ferry, Idaho. Sandpoint is next, and then onwards to Spokane.
This Canadian route is, believe it or not, at 1480 miles, 10 miles shorter than the Great Northern Railway, and 40 miles shorter than the Northern Pacific, between the Twin Cities and Spokane !. The new train also takes the United States mail contract away from Great Northern which infuriates James J. Hill. In 1909, the service is extended to Portland. Ore., via the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co. (later a Union Pacific road). The name then becomes the "Soo-Spokane-Portland Train De Luxe". The war is on with the two American rival railways.
Due to several reasons, including increased competition, the shortening of the Great Northern Railway mainline in 1909, and an economic recession in 1913, this great train is cancelled in early 1914. With the outbreak of World War I that year, and other competitive factors, the deluxe service is never reinstated