Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

Postcard depiction of Tunnel No. 2 and Bridge No. 19 on the Camas Prairie Railroad.

Postcard depiction of Lawyers Canyon Trestle on the Camas Prairie Railroad.
Snake River Farms Wagyu Brisket
Camas Prairie RR logo
Postcard depiction of Tunnel No. 2 and Bridge No. 19 on the Camas Prairie Railroad.

Camas Prairie Railroad
Camas Prairie Railroad Company (reporting mark CSP) was a short line railroad in northern Idaho jointly owned and operated by Northern Pacific Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. The Camas Prairie Railroad was known as the "railroad on stilts" due to the many wooden trestles. In one five-mile (8 km) stretch, there were more than a dozen trestles. The CSP was a remnant of railroad wars in the 19th and 20th century, when Edward H. Harriman and James J. Hill were fighting over this whole inland area to see who could get the most rails into the Pacific Northwest.

The Camas Prairie Railroad was the result of that competition and in many ways, the end of the war. In the end, the railroads co-operated to build the Camas Prairie Railroad. The CSP was built to tap the rolling, fertile hills of the Camas Prairie and the timber of the forested hills and canyonlands of the Clearwater River. The Nez Perce Indian Reservation was opened to white settlement in 1895. Service to the south terminus of the second subdivision line at Grangeville commenced in December 1908, and continued for 92 years.

Parts of the railroad are now operated by the Great Northwest Railroad and the Bountiful Grain and Craig Mountain Railroad (BGCM).

Demise
The railroad was sold to North American RailNet in April 1998, and it became the subsidiary Camas Prairie RailNet, Inc. (CSPR). After less than two years, CSPR notified the U.S. government in late 1999 that the second subdivision line to Grangeville could be subject to abandonment, citing lack of profitability. It made its formal request in May, and it was approved by the Surface Transportation Board in September 2000; the last run to Fenn and Grangeville was on November 29. The tracks were to be removed shortly thereafter, but that was delayed as a new operator for the line was sought.

When BG&CM stepped in to operate the second subdivision line in December 2002, it was originally only to extend from Spalding to Craigmont, but a few weeks later decided to continue south, across Lawyer's Canyon to Cottonwood, stopping the salvage crews from going further north. The tracks from Cottonwood to Grangeville were removed and salvaged in late 2002 and 2003. North American RailNet sold the remainder of the railroad to Watco Companies in March 2004, which renamed it the Great Northwest Railroad.

Second subdivision
County: Nez Perce

City / Stop: Spalding

Mile: 0  
Elevation (feet): 805

City / Stop: Lapwai

Mile: 3.3  
Elevation (feet): 955

City / Stop: Sweetwater

Mile: 5.3
Elevation (feet): 1,090

City / Stop: Culdesac

Mile: 12.1
Elevation (feet): 1,645

County: Lewis

City / Stop: Nucrag

Mile: 19.5
Mile: Elevation (feet): 2,780

City / Stop: Reubens

Mile: 26.1
Elevation (feet): 3,525

City / Stop: Craigmont

Mile: 34.4
Elevation (feet): 3,740

County: Idaho

City / Stop: Ferdinand

Mile: 42.3
Elevation (feet): 3,720

City / Stop: Cottonwood

Mile: 51.0
Elevation (feet): 3,495

City / Stop: Fenn

Mile: 59.5
Elevation (feet): 3,275

City / Stop: Grangeville

Mile: 66.8
Elevation (feet): 3,395

Passenger service
Passenger service on the main line along the Clearwater River to Stites and on the second subdivision to Grangeville was discontinued in August of 1955.

Popular culture
The 1975 film Breakheart Pass starring Charles Bronson was filmed on portions of the railroad, as were parts of 1999's Wild Wild West.

Camas Prairie Railroad Company Overview
Reporting mark: CSP
Locale: Lewiston, ID to Riparia, WA, Lewiston to Stites, ID, Spalding to Grangeville, ID, Orofino to Headquarters, ID
Dates of operation: 1909–1998
Successors: Camas Prairie RailNet (1998–2004), Great Northwest Railroad (2004– ), BG&CM Railroad (2004– ) (2nd subdivision)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters: Lewiston, Idaho

See also:

Railroads of the United States

Half Moon Bridge on the Camas Prairie Railroad.

Half Moon Bridge on the Camas Prairie Railroad.

Postcard depiction of a Camas Prairie Railroad trestle in Lapwai Canyon. 

Postcard depiction of a Camas Prairie Railroad trestle in Lapwai Canyon.

Postcard depiction of Lawyers Canyon Trestle on the Camas Prairie Railroad.

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