According to a 1952 newspaper article found on the Camas Prairie Rails web site, at the turn of the 20th century the mega-mogul Edward H. Harriman and the original Empire Builder, J. J. Hill, were looking into the forested regions of western Idaho and salivating over the thoughts of the endless carloads of timber products that might originate there. The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific workers came almost to blows on several occasions, before the managements of the railroads finally decided to make love, not war. The Camas Prairie railroad was the result. Jointly owned by Union Pacific and Northern Pacific, it operated equipment loaned from its parent lines and had a presidency which was alternately filled by appointments from the two owning roads.

I have a trip report of this railroad from Don Richardson: "My ride on the Camas Prairie Railroad was the result of a Railway Club of Southern California trip that was canceled in 1953. My parents, aunt, and I decided to do our own trip. We drove through Utah into Idaho following the UP and photographing 2-8-2s, 2-8-8-0s, 4-6-6-4s, 4-8-2s and 4-8-4s in the latter state. We rode the rapids on the Snake River in Idaho and Washington, Idaho & Montana Ry. Motor 11, a rail bus, in those three states between Palouse, Washington and Purdue, Montana on trains 2 and 3. We photographed UP 4-6-2 2894 on various trains out of its terminal in Lewiston, Idaho, including No. 62 at Moscow, Idaho. We rode the Camas Praire Grangeville and Stites branches on NP Motors (M-14 on the Grangeville Branch), photographing UP and NP 2-8-2s in freight service (NP on Grangeville Branch, UP on Stites Branch). We also photographed UP 0-6-0 4925, the yard goat at Lewiston. We photographed Nezperce R.R. engine 11, a Whitcomb gas motor, at Nezperce, Idaho. We photographed MILW #18 "Columbian" at Lake Couer D'Alene.
"With my Santa Fe vacation running out, I left my family in Lewiston and took UP No. 19 "The Spokane" from Lewiston to Portland. It was a night train and had upgraded semi-streamlined chair cars and one of those ubiquitous 2800 series Pacifics (how nice that sounds now!). I transferred at Portland to SP's No. 19 "Klamath" to San Francisco and No. 72 to Los Angeles (the only trains my pass was good on). The SP trains were terrible (weren't they all?). According to my timebook, I was gone 13 days."

For more information on the connecting service to Portland, see the Spokane on Track 7.

From the pages of the Official Guide, July 1954

Union Pacific Railroad shield heraldCamas Prairie Railroad heraldNorthern Pacific Railway monad herald

Passenger Service

Camas Prairie Railroad
June 20, 1954

Through Coach/Sleeper Portland-Lewiston
20 Connecting Train Number (Union Pacific) 19
10 00P Dp 0 Portland, OR (PT) C Ar 6 10A
2 20A Dp 184 Hinkle, OR C Ar 1 15A
2 55A Dp 212 Wallula, WA C Ar 12 30A
4 05A Ar 266 Ayer, WA Dp 11 27P
74 Train Number 73
Daily Miles Services Daily
5 00A Dp 0 Ayer, WA (PT) Ar 10 15P
5 24A 13 Tucannon, WA 9 49P
5 35A 18 Riparia, WA 9 40P
F 5 59A 33 Central Ferry, WA F 9 11P
F 6 13A 42 Penawawa, WA F 8 57P
F 6 19A 47 Swift, WA F 8 51P
6 30A 54 Almota, WA 8 40P
6 43A 61 Wawawai, WA 8 28P
F 6 45A 62 Crum, WA F 8 26P
F 6 55A 68 Bishop, WA F 8 17P
F 7 02A 73 Indian, WA F 8 10P
F 7 12A 80 Moses, WA F 8 00P
F 7 17A 84 Wilma, WA F 7 55P
7 30A Ar 90 Lewiston, ID (PT) C Dp 7 45P
311 Connecting Train Number (Northern Pacific Ry.) 314
9 10A Dp 0 Spokane, WA (PT) C R Ar 8 15P
11 49A 84 Pullman, WA C R 5 38P
12 07P 95 Moscow, ID C R 5 10P
1 45P Ar 146 Lewiston, ID C R Dp 3 20P
344 Train Number 343
Daily Miles Services Daily
8 00A Dp 0 Lewiston, ID (PT) C Ar 1 55P
F 8 18A 9 North Lapwai, ID F 1 37P
8 20A 10 Spalding, ID 1 34P
8 26A 14 Lapwai, ID 1 23P
8 31A 16 Sweetwater, ID 1 20P
F 8 40A 20 Jacques, ID F 1 13P
8 46A 22 Culdesac, ID C 1 10P
9 32A 36 Reubens, ID 12 27P
F 9 38A 40 Craig Junction, ID F12 18P
9 49A 45 Craigmont, ID C 12 10P
10 04A 53 Ferdinand, ID 11 54A
10 19A 61 Cottonwood, ID C 11 37A
10 37A 70 Fenn, ID 11 18A
10 56A Ar 77 Grangeville, ID (PT) C Dp 11 05A
324 Train Number 323
Daily Miles Services Daily
8 10A Dp 0 Lewiston, ID (PT) C Ar 2 05P
F 8 28A 9 North Lapwai, ID F 1 47P
8 30A 10 Spalding, ID 1 44P
8 40A 14 Arrow, ID 1 38P
9 07A 27 Lenore, ID 1 00P
F 9 22A 34 Peck, ID F12 44P
9 44A 43 Orofino, ID C 12 25P
10 04A 51 Greer, ID 12 05P
10 37A 65 Kamiah, ID C 11 35A
10 55A 73 Kooskia, ID 11 20A
11 03A Ar 76 Stites, ID (PT) Dp 11 08A

Train 74 (Ayer-Lewiston): 12 stops, 2:30, 36.0 MPHTrain 73 (Lewiston-Ayer): 12 stops, 2:30, 36.0 MPH

Train 344 (Lewiston-Grangeville): 12 stops, 2:56, 26.3 MPHTrain 343 (Grangeville-Lewiston): 12 stops, 2:50, 27.2 MPH

Train 324 (Lewiston-Stites): 9 stops, 2:53, 26.4 MPHTrain 323 (Stites-Lewiston): 9 stops, 2:57, 25.8 MPH

(Union Pacific RR Notes)


No. 73-61. Daily.
(73—Lewiston to Ayer; 61—Moscow to Ayer.)
Coach-Sleeping Car...Lewiston to Portland—8-Section (19 west of Ayer).
Reclining Seat Coaches...Moscow to Ayer.


No. 62-74—Daily.
(62 Ayer to Moscow; 74 Ayer to Lewiston.)
Coach-Sleeping Car...Portland to Lewiston—8-Section (20 to Ayer).
Reclining Seat Coaches...Ayer to Moscow.

Passenger service disappeared from the Camas Prairie line sometime between July 1957 and November 1958, but portions of the line continue to be operated in freight service to this day.