Wending its way through the northcentral region of the United States, the Northern Pacific Rail Road was built to run from Lake Superior ( Duluth, Minnesota ) to Puget Sound ( Seattle, Washington ). While the railway was under construction, the builders had a difficult time finishing because of Indian resistance and the lack of bonds sold to finance the railroad*. Pressing through McCall, Idaho , and other places, the railway was completed on 1883, and a 'golden' spike was driven in at Independence Creek, approximately 60 miles west of Helena, Montana. After the railway had been in operation for some time, the crews of Nelson Bennett finished the Stampede Tunnel in 1888, which allowed the railroad to continue through the Cascade Mountains. The Northern Pacific Railroad also was in control of two other railroad companies, but the antitrust laws of 1904 forced the company to disband.
Many Puget Sound communities boomed on speculation that they would be chosen as the western terminus for the railroad, including Port Townsend, Union, Tacoma, and Anacortes.
*Bond sales were affected by a worldwide depression.