The Northwestern Improvement Company was organized on October 18, 1897 by D. S. Lamont, the Vice President of Northern Pacific Railroad, to manage the mining properties and other lands owned by Northern Pacific Railroad. On January 17, 1898, the company was incorporated by the State of Washington and allowed to conduct business within the state. In 1899, the Northwestern Improvement Company purchased the Northern Pacific Coal Company, which included the coal mines at Roslyn and Cle Elum, Washington. For the next five decades, the mines at Roslyn and Cle Elum supplied the coal fuel needed by the steam engines of the Northern Pacific Railroad. By the early 1950s, the conversion of locomotives from steam to diesel led to the decline of coal mining in the region and their eventual closures in the early 1960s. On March 3, 1970, the Northwestern Improvement Company’s subsidiary, the Northern Pacific Railroad, merged with Burlington Lines Incorporated to create Burlington Northern.
The collection consists of eleven leather-bound field survey notebooks composed by surveyors of the Northwestern Improvement Company of Cle Elum, Washington, from 1908 to 1923 and retained by the company’s office in Tocoma. The notebooks contain surveys of construction projects in Cle Elum and Roslyn conducted by the Northwestern Improvement Company and its subsidiary corporation the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. Included within the pages of the notebooks are sketches of regional topography, buildings, railroad lines, mine shafts, bore holes, and other geographical indicators.
[Name of document or photograph number]. MS003-06-03, Northwestern Improvement Company Field Survey Notebooks. Archives and Special Collections, Brooks Library, Central Washington University.