Western Star (train)

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Western Star
Western Star 1951.JPG
Western Star in the Cascades, 1951
PredecessorOriental Limited
First serviceJune 3, 1951
Last serviceMay 1, 1971
SuccessorEmpire Builder
Former operator(s)Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Great Northern Railway
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway
Burlington Northern Railroad
TerminiChicago, Illinois
Seattle, Washington/Portland, Oregon

The Western Star was a named passenger train operated by the Great Northern Railway between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest via Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Between Chicago and St. Paul the train used the route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; in later years eastbound passengers were accommodated on Burlington trains east of St. Paul. Through cars from the train operated between Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon via the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway. It operated from 1951 to 1971.


The Western Star was inaugurated on June 3, 1951, replacing the Oriental Limited as the secondary train along the Great Northern's transcontinental route. The Great Northern's primary train was the famed Empire Builder, which made the run in 45 hours. The Western Star required a more leisurely 58 hours, making more intermediate stops and serving branches the Empire Builder bypassed, such as Grand Forks, North Dakota and Great Falls, Montana.[1]: 91  The Star used equipment from the Empire Builder, which had been completely reequipped.[2]: 245 

Amtrak did not retain the Western Star as part of its national route network and the train was discontinued on May 1, 1971, although it did re-route the Empire Builder to serve Grand Forks.[3]: 158 


The 1951 Western Star required six sets of equipment to operate; it inherited five of these from the faster Empire Builder. Each set of equipment consisted of fourteen cars:

Each set could carry 330 passengers.[4]


  1. ^ Yenne, Bill (2005). Great Northern Empire Builder. Voyageur Press. ISBN 0760318476.
  2. ^ Hidy, Ralph W.; et al. (2004). The Great Northern Railway: A History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-4429-2.
  3. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34705-3.
  4. ^ "Western Star Replaces Oriental Limited On Great Northern Line". Mouse River Farmers Press. May 31, 1951. Retrieved August 25, 2013.

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