The Washington Territory existed from 1853 until 1889. It covered the area of present day Washington and northern Idaho. In 1863 the region was reorganized to include the Idaho Territory, creating the current boundaries for Washington State. Washington became the 42nd state in November of 1889.
The Northern Pacific Railroad was chartered by Congress in 1864. The goal of the line was to connect the Great Lakes with Puget Sound in the Washington Territory. By opening up access to regions in the northwest the line hoped to offer good transportation of the western region’s resources to eastern locations and permit safe passenger travel west. Building was not begun on the railroad until 1870. Work then proceeded east from Puget Sound while crews in Minnesota began laying tracks going west. Completion of the railroad was hampered by constant Indian attacks upon surveyors and workers, and because of this slow progression the line went bankrupt during the economic Panic of 1873. After reorganization, the Northern Pacific Railroad was finally completed in September of 1883. A grand ceremony at Gold Creek, in western Montana, where the two ends met, was climaxed with the driving of a gold spike.
The railroad was forced into bankruptcy proceedings again in 1893, but after reorganizing, things began improving. Its ability to upgrade equipment regularly and offer first-class travel service enabled the Northern Pacific to become one of the most popular railroads of the early 1900's.
This relief map of the northern and western United States was published in 1882 by Rand, McNally & Co. It is color coded to show completed and under construction Northern Pacific Lines proper, Oregon Railway and Navigation Company’s system, and Oregon and Transcontinental Branch Lines. Cities, towns, and counties are clearly labeled. Included are portions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota and North Dakota.
This statement is included on the map:
"The gap, now under construction, between the Eastern and Western Divisions, is about 485 miles, and will be completed during the summer of 1883, making a through line from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean."