AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #15a -- Seattle, Washington to Glacier Park, Montana
Part 3 - Ephrata to Sandpoint
Sandpoint to Whitefish
Leavenworth to Ephrata


206.5 EPHRATA station, 24 Alder Street N.W.  Elevation approximately 1275.  Ephrata is a small agricultural town, and irrigation water comes from the Columbia Basin Project, a Federal project which began in the 1930’s and was designed to supply both hydroelectric power and irrigation to 1.2 million acres of semiarid scablands.  Ephrata was founded by the Egbert Brothers, an 1882 horse breeder.  In 1902 the town was platted as a townsite by J. Cyrus.  Before the Columbia Basin Project, irrigation was provided by local springs.  The first name given to this place was Indian Grave Springs, as there were many Indian graves in the nearby hills.  Later the name was changed to Beasley Springs, for Frank Beasley, who lived in the area before the Egberts. In 1892, the present name was given by Great Northern Railway Company surveyors, and was reportedly named after the Palestinian village of Ephrata, mentioned in the Old Testament as Ephratah, the former name of Bethlehem.

         The town is the home of the Grant County Historical Museum and Pioneer Village.  The Pioneer Village consists of 29 reconstructed buildings, including a saloon, dress shop, blacksmith shop, and livery stable.

212    Pass through the community of Grant Orchards.  Ridges in the area are composed of Columbia River Basalt, and the lower areas are glacial sediments and Palouse Loess.

213.5 The hills on the left (eastbound) beyond the canal are composed of Palouse Loess.

216.5 Pass through Adrian, which was named after Adrian, Michigan, by a Northern Pacific Railway Superintendent who formerly resided in that town.  Crab Creek flows parallel to the railroad on the left (eastbound).

218.5 Black Butte, on the right (eastbound), is a Miocene-aged volcano which is capped by Palouse Loess.  As the train rounds the bend, look for blocks of black lava along the tracks on the right.

219.5 Cross Crab Creek.

221    Cross Crab Creek yet again.

221.5 Town of Stratford is visible on the left (eastbound).  The Stratford Sate Wildlife Area is adjacent to the tracks on the north.

222.5 :Cross over Highway 28.

224    Brooks Lake is visible on the left (eastbound).  The rocks exposed on the right are the Miocene-aged Columbia River Basalt.

224.5 Cross Crab Creek.

227   We are now passing through a small canyon in Crab Creek, which is bordered by basalt flows of the Miocene-aged Columbia River Basalt. This valley was likely one of the channelways from the Spokane Flood.

229-230  Pass through the town of Wilson Creek, which was named after the creek we cross as we pass through town.  The creek was named after a pioneer who settled the area in 1886 and lived with Indian Chief Shushuskin near the mouth of the creek.  The creek was originally named Nanum Creek.

232   Lava flows are visible to the left (eastbound) as well as across Crab Creek to the south.

234    The channel now occupied by Crab Creek was likely scoured by the release of Spokane Flood waters during the Pleistocene Epoch.  Lava flows are visible on either side of the valley and the railroad.

236    Pass through Marlin, a wheat town settled by John Marlin in 1871. Mr. Marlin is reputed to have been the first permanent white resident of the area.  In 1909 and 1914, the town was burnt and rebuilt,  It was originally named Krupp by Great Northern Railway officials to please a very influential farmer named Eckhart, who was presumed to be German.  He turned out to be a Scot named Urquhart.  When the United States became involved in World War I. the place was unofficially renamed Marlin, after the first settler; however, the actual name of the town is still Krupp, as it was incorporated under that name.

          Just past Marlin, we enter LINCOLN County, which was established by the Territorial Legislature on November 24, 1883, from a portion of Spokane County.  The county was named after President Abraham Lincoln.  The proposed name of the county has been Sprague, to honor John W. Sprague, General Superintendent of the Northern Pacific Railway Company.  The legislative bill was changed to carry the present name as a move to gain support for its passage.

239-240  Continue through the lava-cut valley of Crab Creek.  We are now in the heart of the Channeled Scablands.

242.5 Cross Crab Creek again.

243.5 Pass through Irby.  This community was established as a ranch by John Irby in 1878 and was called Irby’s Ranch.  It was later sold to a company which sets up warehouse facilities.

245    The cliffs on either side of the railroad are composed of various members of the Columbia River Basalt,  Occasional hot springs may be visible along this part of the route.

          This part of Washington received the heaviest accumulation of volcanic ash after the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens.  The white powdery ash can still be seen covering some surfaces in these canyons.

248.5 Cross Crab Creek yet again.  Lake Creek flows into Crab Creek on the north (left if eastbound) here.

251   The bluffs on the north here (left if eastbound) are capped by Palouse Loess.

252-253  Pass through Odessa.  This city was founded in 1886 by German immigrants from southern Russia.  It was named by railroad officials for the City of Odessa, on the Black Sea, because of its many settlers from Russia.  Odessa is the home of the annual Deutschesfest, held on the 3rd weekend in September.

          North of the tracks, the hills are capped with Palouse Loess.

254   Pass over Highway 28.

257.5 Cross Coal Creek.  The Columbia River Basalt is present on both sides of the railroad.

260-262 Passing through Coal Creek Canyon.  Most of the exposed sediments in the canyon are Palouse Loess; however, the Columbia River Basalt is visible to the south (right if eastbound)/

262.5 Lamona.  In 1890 or 1891, J.M. Newland established this settlement when he opened a store in the community.  The community was named after J.H. Lamona, who bought Newland’s store in 1892 and operated it for many years,  Notice the grain elevators as we pass through town, reminding us that even in these desolate Scablands, agriculture is important.

265-266 This small canyon of Coal Creek is one of the many scoured basalt channeled scablands in this part of the State.

267   Downs.  This community was platted by Howard S. Amon on January 14, 1902, who named it after P.I. Downs, Assistant General Superintendent of the Great Northern Railway, who was killed in a train wreck in 1901 just as the town was being settled.  As we pass through Downs, a couple more grain elevators may be visible.

269.5 A couple springs have been mapped in the narrow valley of Coal Creek on the left (eastbound) here.

271    Pass through Mohler, named after Morgan Mohler, an early stagecoach driver who stopped here before the railroads came to the area.

273-274  The narrow valley of Coal Creek here is again floored with various members of the Columbia River Basalt.  The bluffs on either side of the canyon are capped with Palouse Loess.

277-278  Pass through Harrington, a wheat growing town in this “Big bend” country, named after the “big bend” in the Columbia River to the north of here. This townsite was claimed as a homestead by Adam Luby in 1879.  It was named after W.P. Harrington of Colusa County, California, a banker and land speculator who, along with Seattle banker Jacob Furth, purchased 1500 acres of land in 1883.  The town was platted in 1883 by Horace and Emily Cutter.

285    Pass through Bluestem, which was platted in the early 1890’s by Ulysses Sheridan Long, and called Moscow.  Later the settlers changed the name to designate the principal wheat species once raised in the area.

287    We are following Bluestem Creek, which is another scoured valley in the Columbia River Basalt through which waters from the Spokane Flood deluged.

290    Cross Crab Creek once again.

290.5 Pass through the ghost town of Canby.

293.5 Edwall Cemetery is visible on the bluff of Columbia River Basalt on the right (eastbound).

294    Pass through Edwall.  This town was named after Peter Edwall, a pioneer of 1881, who platted the town on May 19, 1882.  Palouse Loess is visible in the hills on either side of the railroad.

298-299 The higher hills on the left (eastbound) are composed of metamorphic and igneous rocks of Permian to Triassic age, which are likely parts of the ancient North American continent, onto which a terrain known as the Okanogan subcontinent accreted during the Cretaceous Period.

300    Waukon. This place was named by railroad officials when the Spokane, Portland, & Seattle Railway was built, although the origin of the name is unknown.

301.5 Enter SPOKANE County.  The county and city were both named after the Spokane Indians, who once lived in the area.  The name “Spokane” appears to be from the Indian tribal designation “Spehkunne,” which means “children of the sun,” or “sun people.”  It evidently comes from the Indians who formerly lived in a village at the foot of Spokane Falls.  When they fished at the falls, they stood in a rainbow or halo of light formed by sunlight striking a cloud of mist.  An alternate source of the name is from Illum Spokane, an elderly Chief of the Middle Spokane, who once lived near the falls.

          Spokane County was formed on January 29, 1858.  It was annexed by Stevens County on January 19, 1864, and re-created on October 30, 1879.

306.5 Pass through Espanola.  The original name of this town was Manila.  When a post office was established here in 1900, the postal authorities changed the name to Espanola because there was already another Manila post office in the state.

308   We are now leaving the Channeled Scablands, and crossing an area underlain by Quaternary-aged glacial deposits.  The hills and mountains in the distance which are becoming visible are very ancient Precambrian-aged metamorphic rocks known as the Belt Series. We are nearing the western edge of the ancient North American Continent.  Everything further west, including the Okanogan subcontinent, was accreted onto the North American Continent most likely during the Cretaceous Period.  We will be traversing these ancient deformed metamorphic and igneous rocks all the way to Glacier Park.

310-312  Fairchild Air Force Base, which was established in 1942 as the Spokane Air Depot.  It is named in honor of General Muir S. Fairchild (1894–1950).  General Fairchild was a World War I aviator and died on 17 March, 1950, while serving as Vice Chief of Staff, USAF. is visible on the right (eastbound). The host unit at Fairchild is the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, assigned to the Air Mobility Command's 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force.  The 92nd Air Refueling Wing is responsible for providing air refueling, as well as passenger and cargo airlift and aero-medical evacuation missions supporting U.S. and coalition conventional operations as well as U.S. Strategic Command strategic deterrence missions.

311.5 Spokane Battlefield State Park is visible just south of the railroad.  Cross U.S. 2, which the Empire Builder will follow from here all the way 314, to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

314    The community visible on the right (eastbound) is Airway Heights, which was established in 1942 and incorporated in 1955.  It was named after nearby Fairchild Air Force Base (see MP 310 above). Growth in the City was spurred by the opening of the Airway Heights Correction Center by the Washington State Department of Corrections in 1992 and the opening of the Northern Quest Resort & Casino by the Kalispell Indian Tribe in 2000.  More recently, with the addition of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, several new apartment buildings and housing developments, and the expansion of the Northern Quest Casino, Airway Heights is continuing to grow.  Also, the Spokane County Raceway Park is located in Airway Heights, and features major automobile events, including drag racing, stock car racing, and occasional monster truck shows.

317   We are continuing to pass through an area covered by Pleistocene-aged glacial deposits.

321    On the left (eastbound) are exposures of volcanic rocks which are younger in age than the Columbia River Basalt, and thus overly the Columbia River Formation.

         Between here and the Spokane River on the east is Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC), also known as “The Falls.”.  SFCC offers programs for students seeking an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, with some 60% of SFCC students transferring to 4-year institutions.  SFCC also offers many one-of-a-kind career-technical degree and certificate programs, including orthotic/prosthetic technician, hearing instrument specialist, physical therapist assistant and, starting fall quarter 2011, occupational therapy assistant. SFCC also is considered a center of visual and performing arts, with highly regarded programs in drama, music, fine art, photography and graphic design.  The campus has a close working relationship with the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, a higher education facility for students from Japan studying in the U.S.

322.5 Cross Indian canyon, a tributary of the Spokane River.

323.5 As the train rounds the bend, the railroad line entering from the right (eastbound) marks the route of the Portland Section of the Empire Builder (see RR Log #15b).  The highway on the right is Interstate 90, which runs from Seattle to Boston, Massachusetts.

324   Cross the Spokane River, which flows west into the Columbia River.  The Spokane River rises in northern Idaho.

325.5 SPOKANE station, 221 W. 1st Avenue.  Elevation approximately 1922.  The city is the seat of Spokane County, and is located at the falls of the Spokane River, and is the 2nd largest city in Washington, after Seattle.  It is a commercial, manufacturing, transportation, and cultural center of a vast farming, mining, and lumbering area called the Inland Empire, which includes eastern Washington, northern Idaho, western Montana, and northeastern Oregon.  The city is a major rail center and is served by an international airport. The city is surrounded by productive farmlands and several mining operations, primarily gold and silver, are located in the Northern Rocky Mountains, which Spokane is located at the edge of.

          Several trading posts, owned by the Pacific Fur Company, the North West Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company, operated in this area from 1810 to 1826. Permanent settlement started in 1871, when J.J. Downing, S.R. Scranton, and R,M. Benjamin built a sawmill near Spokane Falls. The city became an important rail center in the early 1880;s because of its location at one of the few points where the railroad could easily be constructed across the Rocky Mountains.  It was incorporated as a city in 1881 and was known as Spokane Falls until 1890, when the name was shortened to Spokane.  Much of the city was destroyed by fire in 1889, but it was soon rebuilt. Spokane later benefited from the hydroelectricity produced at Grand Coulee Dam, which was completed in 1942, and from the establishment here of aluminum plants during World War II.

          Riverfront Park in Spokane was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair, which was called “Expo ’74.”  The park is located adjacent to Spokane Falls, the site of the city’s beginnings, and several of the Expo ’74 features are still used.  The city is also the home of the Lilac Blomsday Run every May, which is followed by the annual Lilac Festival.  In early September, the Interstate Fair takes place.  Spokane is also the location of the 10-block “Skywalk,” an all-weather enclosed glass walkway which connects several downtown businesses. In addition, there are four wineries in the Spokane area, and there is a collection of Bing Crosby memorabilia at Gonzaga University, where the “Crooner” received an honorary doctorate degree in 1937.

          At Spokane, the eastbound Empire Builder from Portland is joined to the Seattle section, and the westbound Empire Builder splits into two sections at Spokane.  See Log #15b for the route from Portland to Spokane.

327.5  The Playfair Racetrack is adjacent to the railroad on the right (eastbound).

330    We are traversing an industrial area located on Quaternary-aged glacial deposits. The city of Orchard Park is visible on the left (eastbound).  Precambrian-aged Belt Series rocks are visible to the north past Orchard Park (left if eastbound).

332    Pass through Millwood, a suburban community in the Spokane Valley.  In 1900, it was chosen as a station by the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Electric Railway, and was named Woodward’s for the family who owned the land along the railroad.  When Inland Empire Paper Company built a paper mill here, they requested a name change to Milltown. Railway officials refused to change the name unless the Woodward family agreed.  A compromise resulted, using the word mill combined with the first four letters of Woodward.

334.5 Cross the Spokane River again.  The hill on the right (eastbound) is composed of Precambrian Belt Series metamorphic rocks.

335.5 Large Kaiser Aluminum plant is visible on the right (eastbound).

338   The hills on the left (eastbound) are composed of Precambrian-aged deformed metamorphic rocks of the Belt Series, which consist of ancient continental crust, onto which the Okanogan subcontinent accreted from the west.

341    The hills on the left (eastbound) are still composed of Precambrian-aged Belt Series metamorphic rocks.

342.5 Pass through Newman Lake, also known as Moab. Newman lake was named after early settler William Newman.

344    Enter KOOTENAI County, IDAHO.  The area now known as Idaho was originally occupied by several Native American tribes.  In the “Panhandle,” which is the part of the state we will be traversing for the next 3 to 4 hours, the predominant groups were the Shoshone, Nez Percé, and the Pend Oreille tribes.  The first white men to enter the Idaho Territory were Merriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1805.  With the advent of the fur trade, the American trappers Andrew Henry and Don McKenzie. along with British trappers like David Thompson, began establishing trading posts with the Native Americans.  The first permanent settlement in the state was established at Franklin, in southeastern Idaho, in 1860.

          Kootenai County was formed on December 22, 1864, from the northern section of Nez Perce County.  It was named after the Kootenai Indians, because it lies in the traditional area of settlement of the tribe.

345.5 Hauser siding.  The town of Hauser is located 3 miles to the northwest, on Hauser Lake. A few miles to the south is Post Falls, where a sawmill was constructed by Frederick Post in 1871.  This sawmill harnessed power from a waterfall on the Spokane River at the point where the river flowed out of Lake Pend Oreille.  The site is now the location of a hydroelectric power plant.

347   The hills on the left (eastbound) are composed of Precambrian-aged Belt Series metamorphic rocks.

352-353  Pass through Rathdrum. The Rathdrum Valley, which extends east from the peaks on the left (eastbound), is noted for its growth of Kentucky Bluegrass, which is harvested for seed.  A few miles southeast is the city of Coeur d’Alene, which started as an army installation in the late 19th century, but soon became an important logging, mining, and transportation center.  It is also the home of the Museum of Northern Idaho, which documents the early history of the region.

353-358  We are now crossing thee Rathdrum Prairie, which is floored by Quaternary-aged glacial deposits.  Most of the rocks exposed in the mountains  on the right (eastbound) are Precambrian-aged sedimentary rocks of the Belt Series, while most of the rocks exposed on the left are intrusive granitic rocks of Mesozoic age, which have intruded into older Belt Series metamorphic rocks.

          The Rathdrum Prairie is the southern end of a large structural feature known as the Purcell Trench.  This extensive north-south fault zone extends for several hundred miles north into the Canadian Rockies.  When the Purcell Trench formed, the earth’s crust became extended and granitic rocks from the Idaho Batholith on the west slid downslope and lapped onto the older Precambrian Belt Series rocks on the east.  The timing of this large crustal movement is not accurately known -- it may have taken place during the Cretaceous Period, when the magmas which formed the Idaho Batholith were still molten or semi-molten, or it may have taken place during the Miocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period, when crustal extension in much of western North America took place.

358    Pass through a place called Ramsey.

362    North Pole siding

364.5 Cross a branch of the Spokane International Railroad, a 148-mile short line headquartered in Omaha.

365.5 Pass through the town of Athol.  Four miles east of town is Farragut State Park, named after Admiral David G. Farragut, the Civil War naval hero known for his order “Damn the torpedoes!  Full speed ahead!” The state park site was the location of the Farragut Naval Station during World War II, which was the second largest naval base in the country at the time.  Today it is a 4000-acre park at the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille, and contains forests, meadows, and beaches.

          Near Athol, on U.S. Highway 95, is the Silverwood Theme Park, which is based on an “old west” Frontier town, and contains numerous rides and attractions, and an aircraft museum.

368   Enter BONNER County, named after Edwin Bonner, an early settler in the area.  Bonner County was formed on February 21, 1907, from sections of Kootenai County.

369    The rocks exposed on the left (eastbound) are granitic rocks of the Kaniksu Batholith.  The composition of this batholith consists of peraluminous granite (granite containing a high percentage of aluminum oxide), granite, and granodiorite.  The Kaniksu Batholith makes up most of the Selkirk Range, which is located in northern Idaho and southern British Columbia.

373    Pass through the small community of Careywood.

373.5 Cross Cocolalla Creek. In this area, the rocks closest to the railroad on either side are parts of the Kaniksu Batholith.

378    Pass through thee small town of Cocolalla.  The meaning of the name "Cocolalla" is not clear; one source states it is from a Coeur d'Alene Salish Indian word meaning "very cold", and another source states it is an English derivation of a Coeur d'Alene Salish word meaning “deep water.”  Cocolalla Lake is visible on the left (eastbound).  The rocks exposed on the east side of the railroad (right if eastbound) are sedimentary rocks of the Precambrian-aged Belt Series.

380.5 Pass through Westmond.

382    Pass beneath U.S. 95.

383.5 Algoma Lake is visible on the left (eastbound).  This lake was formed in glacial deposits.  The hills on the left behind the lake are composed of Kaniksu Batholith rocks.

386    Pass through the small community of Sagle.

387   The large mountain on the right (eastbound) is composed of Precambrian sedimentary rocks and metasedimentary rocks of the Belt Series.

389   We are approaching Lake Pend Oreille on the left (eastbound).  Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in Idaho, and is quite deep, being 1150 ft at the deepest point.  It has also been known to produce occasional “sea monsters.”  Because of its great depth, it was used for submarine training from Farragut Naval Base (see MP 365.5 above) during World War II.  Pend Oreille Lake was named by early French explorers, after the Indians in the area who wore pendants in their earlobes (“Pend Oreille” is French referring to earlobe pendants).  Massive rocks on the right are Precambrian Belt Series,

390-391  Cross a mile-long bridge over the Pend Oreille River, which is the outlet of Pend Oreille Lake.  The Pend Oreille River flows approximately 100 miles west, to join the Columbia River in northeastern Washington.

392    SANDPOINT station, 450 Railroad Avenue.  Elevation approximately 2086.  Sandpoint is currently the only AMTRAK station in the State of Idaho.  Sandpoint is a resort area built around Lake Pend Oreille.  The first settlers, who arrived in the 1880’s, had an abundant supply of lumber, and this resource still abounds in the area.  The region soon became a leading supplier of cedars used in telephone and telegraph poles.  In the 1890’s, the Humbird Lumber Company (later incorporated into Weyerhaeuser) came to town.  Downtown Sandpoint now contains many attractive Victorian buildings.

                Sandpoint is also known for its beautiful City Beach Park, just south of the AMTRAK station, which offers scenic views of the Cabinet Mountains to the east. The city is host to several annual festivals also, including an August music festival, a 10-day Winter Carnival in January, the Timberfest in June, and the International Draft Horse show and sale in October.  The Bonner County Historical Museum, located at City Beach Park, features exhibits covering the Kootenai Indians, railroads, and the lumber industry, plus numerous historic photographs taken by noted photographer Ross Hall.
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