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Northern Pacific Railroad Announces Tacoma Terminus

From Historylink.org Essay 922

Union Station, Tacoma, 1911

Union Station, Tacoma, 1911

On July 14, 1873, an expectant crowd gathers at Yesler Mill in Seattle to hear Arthur Denny (1822-1899) read a telegram from Northern Pacific Railroad executives R. D. Rice and J. C. Ainsworth announcing the railroad’s decision on where to locate the terminus. The crowd expects the terminus to be located in Seattle, but Denny opens the telegram and reads, “We have located the terminus on Commencement Bay.” Seattleites are shocked, dismayed, and angered that the planned transcontinental railroad and its coveted wealth of goods and passengers would serve Puget Sound not from Seattle but from Tacoma, then barely a village. The reaction in Tacoma is quite the opposite — celebration. Promoter Matthew McCarver had platted Tacoma City on Commencement Bay speculating that the railroad would come there and his investment proved a good one.

Northern Pacific Promotional

Northern Pacific Promotional

The summer before, Northern Pacific Railroad officials spent a week touring Puget Sound in a steamboat looking at sites for a terminus. Various towns got into a bidding war over it. Seattle offered the Northern Pacific 7,500 town lots, 3,000 acres of land, $50,000 in cash, $200,000 in bonds and the use of the shoreline for tracks and a depot.

Read the whole article here.

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