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“Genesee Had Railroads”: Kenneth Platt Recalls the Importance of the Railroad to Late Nineteenth-Century Western Towns

by Kenneth Platt

The penetration of the railroads into the West in the late nineteenth century had a profound impact on local economies. For a period of ten years in the 1880s the Latah County, Idaho town of Genesee experienced this phenomenon. One town boomed while its neighbors languished in economic isolation, largely as a result of the rail station in Genesee. In this oral history interview, Kenneth Platt described the railroad’s impact on Latah County.

Listen to Audio:

Kenneth Platt: Genesee had railroads from 1888 on, and Lewiston didn’t get it until 1898. And during that ten years Genesee was the jumping-off place for freighting, not only for the Clearwater Valley but clear on as far south and east as Grangeville. And the salesmen that came to Genesee hired buggies and teams and went on off into the back country to take orders and so on. So that Genesee was a strategic town for many years.

Source: The Latah Legacy (Moscow, Idaho: Latah County Historical Society)

See Also:"Everything Was Lively": David Hickman Describes the Prosperity Late Nineteenth-Century Railroads Brought to the West