Scarce map of Washington Territory, showing the lines of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, shortly after its formation in 1885.
The map is based upon the surveys of the General Land Office and was issued to show the routes of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. The map was issued very early in the history of the Railroad, at a time when only a small portion of the line had been completed. The red lines are added to indicate the greater ambitions of the promoters.
The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway (SLS&E) was a railroad founded in Seattle, Washington, on April 28, 1885, with three tiers of purposes: Build and run the initial line to the town of Ballard, bring immediate results and returns to investors; exploit resources east in the valleys, foothills, Cascade Range, and Eastern Washington, attracting more venture capital; and boost a link to a transcontinental railroad for Seattle, the ultimate prize for incorporation. The historical accomplishment of the line was Seattle to Sumas at the border, with British Columbia, Canada, connecting with the Canadian Pacific transcontinental at the border at Huntingdon, British Columbia, now part of the City of Abbotsford.
Travel between America's coasts had taken months, whether over land by wagon or by sailing ship or steamer around Cape Horn, until the Union Pacific reached San Francisco in 1869 and the Northern Pacific opened to Tacoma in 1887. The SLS&E was conceived and financed by Seattle business interests in response to Villard of the Northern Pacific, selecting Seattle's intense rival Tacoma as its transcontinental western terminus. The original scheme for the SLS&E was connecting with an intercontinental railroad somewhere, while actually building north and east from Seattle. By the late 1880s, the SLS&E needed more capital for ongoing construction toward Sumas and an extension toward Spokane. The Seattle & Eastern Construction Company was formed with many of the same investors as the SLS&E. Construction of the eastern line began in Spokane. By the end of 1889, construction ended, having only reached Sallal Prairie, some miles past North Bend and 63 miles from the Seattle station on Western Avenue at Columbia Street.