The Great Northern and the Northern Pacific were two of four transcontinental lines that served Puget Sound beginning at the turn of the twentieth century. The growth of passenger air travel and the Interstate Highway system after World War II resulted in the demise of many railroads and the consolidation of others. Although major roads such as the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific disappeared completely, consolidated lines such as the Burlington Northern and the Union Pacific prospered.
In 1980, the Burlington Northern picked up the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. In 1995, the Burlington Northern merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to become Burlington Northern Santa Fe.