Serving Seattle, Spokane, Butte, Bismarck, Minneapolis, Chicago, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 9 and 10
Predecessor railroad train numbers: Northern Pacific 25 and 26 (North Coast Limited); Milwaukee Road 15 and 16 (Olympian Hiawatha)
The Northern Pacific Railway and the Milwaukee Road each had a passenger train that operated from Seattle to Chicago via Butte, Montana, over somewhat different routes. The Milwaukee Road's Olympian Hiawatha went from Chicago to Minneapolis via Milwaukee, then headed west to Butte through Aberdeen, South Dakota, and finally took a fairly direct route from Spokane to Seattle. Meanwhile, the Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited went from Chicago to Minneapolis over the Burlington's tracks via Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and then from Minneapolis to Butte via Bismarck, North Dakota, and finally from Spokane to Seattle through Pasco.
When Amtrak took over in 1971, both trains were combined into the North Coast Hiawatha, which followed the Olympian Hiawatha route to Minneapolis, and then the Northern Pacific route the rest of the way to Seattle. Amtrak's version of the train ran three days a week, with the Chicago-Minneapolis portion of the schedule protected by a daily train, at first called the Twin Cities Hiawatha, later carrying the same North Coast Hiawatha name. Since Amtrak decided to use the route through Bismarck instead of the route through Aberdeen, South Dakota would eventually be the only one of the 48 contiguous states to have never had Amtrak train service.
Amtrak budget cuts in 1979 brought an end to the North Coast Hiawatha service, although its sister Seattle-Chicago train, the Empire Builder, was rerouted between Minneapolis and Fargo over the North Coast Hiawatha route through St. Cloud. Amtrak later assigned train numbers 9 and 10 to a Chicago-Duluth train called the North Star.
Condensed historical timetables:
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(1956) (1956) (1972) (1975) (1975) (1972) (1956) (1956)
NC Ltd O.Hia. O.Hia. NC Ltd
1:30P 3:15P 1:45P 6:00P Dp Seattle Ar 8:00A 11:20A 9:30A 7:50A
3:00P ----- ----- ----- Portland ----- ----- ----- 7:15A
10:45P 10:55P 11:30P 3:00A Spokane 11:40P 1:50A 12:55A 10:45A
7:35A 9:03A 8:05A 11:35A Butte 4:45P 5:40P 4:53P 3:44P
10:19P ----- 10:30P 2:31A Bismarck 3:15A 4:40A ----- 2:49A
----- 1:10A ----- ----- Aberdeen ----- ----- 3:00A -----
6:15A 6:20A 8:00A 12:30P Minneapolis 7:00P 8:30P 9:45P 7:10P
1:45P 1:45P 3:50P 8:20P Ar Chicago Dp 10:30A 12:01P 3:00P 11:30A
The Amtrak Train Names Project