Before that time the St Paul had been a great local railway, operating primarily in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois; but by the construction of a long arm from the Missouri river to Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma, it became a transcontinental line of the first importance, avoiding the mistakes of earlier railway builders by securing a line with easy gradients through the most favourable regions.
The guarantee for this activity may be illustrated by a single fact: the combined building operations, in 1908, of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Spokane and Salt Lake City exceeded the combined building operations of Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Kansas City, Boston, Baltimore and Cincinnati during the same year.
It is served by the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, the Oregon & Washington, and the Spokane, Portland & Seattle railways, and by steamship lines, being accessible to sea-going vessels; a ferry connects with the Portland Electric railway.
East of the Cascade Mountains the Columbia and Spokane rivers mark the boundary between the Okanogan Highlands to the northward and the Columbia plateau to the southward; The Okanogan Highlands, an outlier of the Rocky Mountains extending westward from the Coeur d'Alene Mountains in Idaho, reach heights of 5000 to 6000 ft.
of the 119th parallel), the Spokane (in the east central part) and the Pend Oreille (on the N.