The Sierra Western Railroad has a history much the same as the other western railroads. As the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and the Milwaukee Road made their way across the northern states, a need was seen for a more direct route to Northern California. A link to the mid-continentals, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific would be beneficial to all.
Mergers, acquisitions and take-overs formed the Sierra Western, and the story starts around 1880. The Montana Western had graded and laid tracks through Lost Trail Pass then turned south and into the rich mining areas of Montana and Idaho in 1890, reaching Summit, Idaho in 1891 and Cimarron in 1894. The Buffalo Pass, Scalplock and Defiance Railroad had built north and east from Boise along the Salmon River and reached Cimarron in 1892. The Sierra Northern Railway had built northeast from Sacramento, California and had arrived in Boise in 1903.
Backed by the Southern Pacific (Central Pacific) the lines were consolidated in 1910 into the newly formed Sierra Western Railroad. With the valuable mineral, timber and agricultural products of the region added to the bridge traffic, the venture was successful. In 1909 the Elk River and Southern (soon to be acquired by the Milwaukee Road) had built south from Washington state to Cimarron. The SW would form a longstanding and useful partnerships on the north with the CMSP&P, and on the south with SP.
Cimarron became the sub-division headquarters for its namesake sub-division, and the newly formed community of North Cimarron was the southern terminus of the Elk River and Southern.
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