Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway photographs, 1890-1970

Overview of the Collection

Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway
Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway photographs
1890-1970 (inclusive)
3 cubic feet, (6 document cases)
Collection Number
Org. Lot 78
Collection consists of marketing and promotional photographs used by the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway. It includes images of rolling stock, railroad tracks, railroad stations, agriculture, street scenes, and landscapes.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Spokane, Portland and Seattle (SP & S) Railway operated rail lines in Oregon and Washington between 1905 and 1970. James J. Hill incorporated the railway in 1905 to connect his two transcontinental railway lines, the Northern Pacific (NP) and Great Northern (GN) railways. The company was initially named the Portland & Seattle Railway, and Spokane was added to the name in 1908. SP & S also oversaw the operation of the Oregon Electric Railway, the Oregon Traction Company, and the Oregon Trunk Railroad. SP & S merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Collection consists of marketing and promotional photographs used by the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway. Subjects include railroad stations and yards; railroad tracks; rolling stock; train wrecks; railroad bridge construction and maintenance; and railway personnel. There are also photographs of towns and landscapes in Oregon, Washington, and California through which the railroads passed, including images of the construction of the Bonneville Dam, the Columbia River and Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, Mount Hood, and other mountains and lakes. The collection additionally contains photographs of people engaged in various recreations, including hiking, golfing, skiing, and fishing. There are also photographs relating to agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Also included is one photograph album containing interior and exterior photographs of the Reserved Seat Coach-Cafe Car of the SP & S Railway in 1939. Many of the photographs in this collection were commissioned specifically for SP & S. Photographers represented in this collection include Kiser Photo Co., Photo-Art Commercial Studios, Angelus Commercial Studio, and Arthur M. Prentiss.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Selections from the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway photographs are viewable online in OHS Digital Collections.

Preferred Citation

Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway photographs, Org. Lot 78, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1. Regional locations and scenery; Series 2. Railroad properties, personnel, and equipment; Series 3. Non-rail transportation, industry, and recreation; Series 4. Railroad promotional materials.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Burlington Northern Railroad, December 1970 (Lib. Acc. 11760, Photo Acc. 970D001).

Separated Materials

Office records of the Seattle, Portland and Spokane Railway Company donated with this collection were separated to Mss 2018, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Regional locations and sceneryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Albany, Oregon
Images of Oregon Electric Railway station on 5th St. and Lyon St., and community celebration of the opening.
1 2
Astoria, Oregon
Images showing downtown architecture, docks and maritime activity, the Astoria column, and workers. Includes 1 photo reproduction of a drawing of Fort Astoria from 1845.
1845; circa 1927-1940
1 3
Bend, Oregon
Images showing the Pilot Butte Inn, the Shelvin-Hixon plant, residences, and a cave.
1 4
Bonneville Dam
Images include aerial views of planning and construction, completed dam, and salmon.
1 5
Images of touristic scenes from various locations including Muir Woods and the Palace Hotel.
1 6
Cannon Beach, Ecola Park
Beach scenes, landscapes, and seascapes.
1 7
Central Oregon
Images showing bird refuges, hills, rivers, lakes, mountains, trees, cliffs and gorges, rocks, springs and waterfowl.
1 8
Clackamas, Oregon
Images of residences, agriculture, military, logging, and fishing.
1 9
Clark County, Washington
Images of residences and agriculture.
1 10
Corvallis, Oregon
Images of Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University).
1 11
Crooked River, Oregon
Images of mountains, rocks, and river gorges.
1 12
Deschutes River, Oregon
Images of mountains, rocks, river gorges, riverbanks, rapids, trees, and railroad tracks.
1 13
Eugene, Oregon
Images of the University of Oregon, the Oregon Electric Railway station, and a parade.
1 14
Hillsboro, Oregon
Images showing a downtown Hillsboro street scene, an apple orchard, and schoolchildren waiting for a train.
1 15
Longview, Washington
Downtown scenes and an aerial view of the Long-Bell lumber yards.
1 16
Mineral Springs, Washington
Images showing Klickitat and Carson Mineral Springs facilities in Washington.
1 17
Portland, Oregon
Aerial and street-level views of downtown Portland, including industrial and architectural photos, photo reproductions of architectural drawings and street plans, the interior of consolidated ticket office, roses, and the Portland Rose Festival.
1 18
Prineville, Oregon
Aerial and street-level views of Prineville and Crook County.
1 19
Salem, Oregon
Countryside and agricultural views, architecture, Oregon Capitol building, and the Oregon State Fair.
1 20
Seaside, Oregon
Images primarily show beach vacationers, residences, and the Lewis and Clark Salt Works.
1 21
Spokane, Washington
Aerial views of downtown and railyards. Street-level views of garden and cemetery.
2 1
Vancouver, Washington
Industrial scenes.
2 2
Wilsonville Bridge Construction, Oregon Electric Railway
Images showing construction for the Oregon Electric Wilsonville bridge.
2 3
Wishram, Washington
Historical monument and plaque, with rail yards and landscape views in background.
2 4
Identified towns and places, Oregon and Washington
Landscapes and natural, agricultural, and architectural images of various country locations in Oregon and Washington.
2 5-6
Scenic - Columbia River
Landcape and nature images from the Columbia River and Gorge.
2 7
Scenic - Mount Hood
Landscape images, Timberline Lodge, and construction of a gondola cable car system.
2 8
Scenic - national parks
Landscape and tourist images of Crater Lake National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Lake St. Mary, Pollock Mountain, Lake McDermott, McDermott Falls, and Glacier National Park. Portrait of Native American chiefs at Glacier National Park.
2 9
Scenic - Washington
Landscape, architectural, road, and bridge images including near Lewiston and Walla Walla, Washington.
2 10
Scenic - Oregon
Landscape, nature and road images.
2 11
Unidentified Locations
Landscape, nature, architectural, bridge, and road images.
2 12
Seascape, landscape, nature images.
2 13
Landscape and nature images.
2 14
Mountains and waterfalls
Images showing Mt. Jefferson; Mt. Adams; Rock Creek Falls near Stevenson, Washington; Mt. St. Helens; Spirit Lake; Trout Lake near White Salmon, Washington; the Three Sisters; and the McKenzie River.

Series 2:  Railroad properties, personnel, and equipmentReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 1
Stations and yards
Images of rail station architecture, yards, tracks, passengers, and workers.
3 2-4
Tracks and scenes
Landscape images featuring tracks, bridges, construction, and workers.
3 5
Trains - action
Images featuring moving trains and landscapes.
3 6
Trains - wrecks
Images featuring train wrecks, damaged property, and salvage operations.
4 1
Freight cars - exterior
Images of freight cars, with rail company logos and marks, workers, and freight items.
4 2
Locomotives - boiler and tender
4 3
Locomotives - diesel and steam
Images of locomotives, rail stations, yards, workers, logos and marks.
4 4
Locomotives - steam, diesel, passenger, freight
Images of locomotives, rail stations, yards, workers, passengers, logos and marks.
4 5
Oregon Electric Railway
Images of tracks, cars, and signals depot.
4 6
Passenger cars - exterior
Images of rail cars, stations, passengers, logos and marks.
4 7
Passenger cars - interior
Images featuring passengers, attendants, first-class seats and lounges, coach seats, dining and sleeping cars.
4 8
People - miscellaneous railroad personnel
Group and individual portaits and candid images of executives, secretaries, and other workers, mainly office and urban settings.
4 9
Railroad and bridge - construction and maintenance
Images of rail construction. Bridges, tracks, scaffolding, cranes, bulldozers, tractors, landscapes, workers.
4 10
Railroad - shops and yards
Interior views of rail yard industrial spaces. Workers, machinery, architecture, cars and locomotives.

Series 3:  Non-rail transportation, industry, and recreationReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
5 1
Agricultural exhibitions
Exhibition displays of agricultural products from Oregon and Washington.
5 2
Agriculture - farming, farm produce, farmhouses
Images of crop fields, farmhouses, agricultural activities, landscapes.
5 3
Agriculture - hops, berries, etc.
Images of crop rows and fields of hops and berries, agricultural workers.
5 4
Agriculture - irrigation
Images of outdoor irrigation ditches and construction, and construction engineers.
5 5
Agriculture - orchards
Images of orchards, apples, landscapes, workers.
5 6
Agriculture - livestock, poultry, etc.
Images of cattle, poultry, sheep, landscapes, ranches, pens, workers.
5 7
Agriculture - wheat fields, hay harvesting, etc.
Images of wheat fields, landscapes, hay bales.
6 1
Images of vehicles, passengers, and landscapes.
6 2
Fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, climbing
Outdoor sports and recreation, landscape and nature images.
6 3
Forest, lumber
Nature and landscape images, trees, lumber, roads, truck and river log transport.
6 4
Golf, golfers, and golf courses
6 5
Lighthouses and coastal landscapes
6 6
Ships and boats
Images of vessels, rivers, St. Johns Bridge, downtown Portland waterfront. Includes Peter Iredale, Battleship Oregon, and the U.S.S. Portland.
6 7
Great Northern cruise ship and crew
6 8

Series 4:  Railroad promotional materialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
6 9
Promotional materials
Images of advertising on posters, murals, billboards.
6 10
Reserved seat coach-cafe car photograph album
"S.P. & S. Ry. Reserved seat coach-café car, nos. 558 & 559, remodeled at Nor. Pac. Como Shops, St. Paul, Minn., April 1939." Passenger car interior and exterior.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Agriculture--Northwest, Pacific--Photographs
  • Cities and towns--Northwest, Pacific--Photographs
  • Landscapes--Northwest, Pacific--Photographs
  • Railroad trains--Photographs
  • Railroads--Northwest, Pacific--Photographs

Form or Genre Terms

  • photographs

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Prentiss, A. M. (Arthur M.) (photographer)
    Corporate Names
    • Angelus Commercial Studio (photographer)
    • Kiser Photo Co. (Portland, Or.) (photographer)
    • Photo-Art Commercial Studios (Portland, Or.) (photographer)