The Camas Prairie Railroad is sometimes called “the railroad on stilts.” In one five mile stretch, there are more than a dozen trestles, some of the highest in North America.
This railroad is a remnant of the great railroad wars earlier in the century, when the Harrimans and the Hills were fighting over this whole inland area to see who could get the most rails into the Pacific Northwest. They called it “the war” and the Camas Prairie was the result of that war. In the end, the railroads cooperated to build the Camas Prairie Railroad.
This legendary railroad is also one of the few places that allow motor cars on its tracks.By adopting strict safety rules, buying multi-million dollar insurance policies, and paying their way, rail car operators convinced the railroads that they were serious.
As one rail car operator put it, “we’re operating our own trains; we’re operating over this fantastic engineered railroad in some of the most beautiful country around. What more do you want?”
Rail cars weren’t the only form of transportation for rail workers. Some used rail bikes: bicycles that had been modified to run on railroad tracks. By 1900, at least two dozen types of rail bikes had been patented. Today it is still possible to find folks with their own form of “rail cycle” operating around northern Idaho.