|Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway|
|Locale||Washington and Oregon|
|Dates of operation||1905–1970|
|Track gauge||4 ft 81⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway (reporting mark SPS) was a United States-based railroad incorporated in 1905. It was a joint venture by the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway to build a railroad along the north bank of the Columbia River.
In 1909 construction of the Oregon Trunk to Bend, Oregon began. This line constituted part of the "Inside Gateway" between Washington and California which the parent roads hoped to use to compete with Southern Pacific Railroad who virtually monopolized North-South traffic up to that time.
In 1910 it purchased the Oregon Electric Railway.
In 1954, it encountered one of the worst accidents in its history, when a freight train hit a rockslide and tumbled into the Deschutes River. The area that a boxcar hit in the river (a class 3 rapid) was later named Boxcar Rapids.
In 1970, it was leased to the Burlington Northern Railroad (BN), the consolidation of the Great Northern Railway, Northern Pacific Railway, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Due to outstanding bonds, the SP&S was not merged into the BN until November 1, 1979. The Burlington Northern continued to operate it until 1987, when it announced intention to vacate the right-of-way between Snake River Junction (near Ice Harbor Dam) and Cheney. The segment between Portland and Pasco continues to serve successor BNSF and enjoys heavy traffic due to its low-grade and slight curvature crossing of the Cascade Range.
In 1991, the Washington State Parks system acquired the right-of-way and established the Columbia Plateau Trail State Park This park is a 4,109-acre, 130-mile-long rail-bed trail that traces that portion of the 1908 route of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad between Cheney and Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River.
The SP&S's passenger operations mostly involved hosting connections with parent's trains such as the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited, were combined to form the Streamliner (#1/#2). Oriental Limited, Mainstreeter, and Western Star connected with (#3/#4). However, it did operate one named train of its own, the Columbia River Express (#5/#6), which provided service along its main line between Portland and Pasco following the Columbia River most of the way. The Columbia River Express connected at Pasco with Northern Pacific #5/#6 for service to/from Spokane.
Gaertner, John (1990). North Bank Road.
Grande, Walt (1997). The Northwest's Own Railway, Spokane Portland & Seattle Railway and its Subsidiaries.