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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Mon., Jan. 21, 2013, midnight

From our archives, 100 years ago

The Milwaukee Road announced plans for a stunning new innovation: the electrification of all of its trains from Spokane to the coast.

It would include a special “fast train” that would leave Spokane in the late evening and arrive in Seattle in time for breakfast. A Milwaukee spokesman said it would be a “swell” train with electric lights and modern, up-to-date equipment.

The Milwaukee was already working on completely electrifying its main line from Harlowton, Mont., to Avery, Idaho, on the St. Joe River.

Once the feasibility of that stretch was established, the Milwaukee said it would complete the electrification through Spokane to the coast.

The Milwaukee said the power would be purchased from federal dams along the route.

“This is the best kind of conservation the government has ever undertaken, for it develops water power in the interest of commerce, gives the people service far beyond anything steam can give, and it saves the forests,” a railroad spokesman said.

Steam locomotives were suspected of igniting some fires along the Milwaukee tracks during the Big Burn of 1910.

The Milwaukee eventually converted two large stretches to electricity, but wholesale conversion over the whole route never proved feasible.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1977: President Jimmy Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.

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