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Valley City Rail History


In 1909, the Northern Pacific Railway built a new "high line" about a mile north of Valley City. This new line made it possible to overcome the steep grades of the valley, allowing trains to keep better time. However, the high line was also about a mile north of the city, bypassing the convenient, downtown depot. This affected the town in many ways, including mail service and hotel businesses.

So Valley City filed a lawsuit against the Northern Pacific, and the district court issued an injunction prohibiting the Northern Pacific from running trains across the new line. In the meantime, the railroad got the suit transferred to the federal court.

On this date, reports from the Valley City Patriot added a touch of humor to the proceedings over how US Marshall Jim Shea would enforce the injunction. As the paper reported, "everybody was on the lookout Sunday evening for [the] No. 1 [train.]. Well, it finally put in an appearance – not in the city, but up on the high line, where it all but halted as it slowly passed over the big trestle, and when it had safely crossed, the engineer opened wide the throttle, and the long train of Pullman and diners sped on its westward way.... Those persons who had extra good eyesight were rewarded with the glimpse of a form thought to be that of [Marshall] Jim Shea hanging on to the rear of the observation car with both hands, his feet at an angle of 45 degrees and his coat tails flapping in the wind."

The Bismarck Tribune also surmised about this state of affairs, guessing that law enforcement, “armed with the might of authority, might have dragged the contumacious train from the track, tied it into a double bow knot and put it bag and baggage into the city jail."

In the end, Judge Charles F. Amidon of the federal court allowed the NP Railway to use the high line – as long as it also continued to run three trains per day through Valley City on the old line.

That was enough.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1909-05-24/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1909&index=9&rows=20&words=City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Grand Forks Evening Times , May 24, 1909, p2

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1909-06-10/ed-1/seq-6/#date1=1909&index=6&rows=20&words=City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Bismarck Daily Tribune , June 10, 1909, p6

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1909-05-26/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1909&index=4&rows=20&words=City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Bismarck Daily Tribune , May 26, 1909, p2

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1909-11-24/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1909&index=5&rows=20&words=City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Grand Forks Evening Times , November 24, 1909, p2

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1909-05-25/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1909&index=3&rows=20&words=city+City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilter" Bismarck Daily Tribune , May 25, 1909, p2

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88076270/1909-12-02/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1909&index=2&rows=20&words=City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Williston Graphic , December 2, 1909, p1

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1909-10-07/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1909&index=1&rows=20&words=city+City+Northern+Pacific+Valley&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilter" Bismarck Daily Tribune , October 7, 1909, p3

"http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1909-04-24/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1909&index=0&rows=20&words=CITY+NORTHERN+PACIFIC+VALLEY&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=North+Dakota&date2=1910&proxtext=valley+city+northern+pacific&y=14&x=10&dateFilterType=" Bismarck Daily Tribune , Saturday morning, April 24, 1909, p3