Monroe Historical Archives

The Great Northern Greenhouses

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In October 1926 the Great Northern Railway opened its first greenhouse in Monroe on the west side of North Lewis Street just north of the Great Northern mainline, which is now the site of Del’s Farm Supply. The greenhouses were designed and built by Englishman George Dishmaker, who settled in Monroe and built the elegant house and grounds that still stands on the southwest corner of Main and Kelsey Streets. By 1949 there were six greenhouses on the site, and before they were closed and dismantled in 1962, after the merging of the Great Northern, Burlington, and Northern Pacific Railroads, there were ten greenhouses and six acres for growing shrubs.

The greenhouses were built to provide flowers for all Great Northern passenger trains and shrubs for the landscaping of all Great Northern Depots. Every spring a crew from Monroe would travel the line to landscape the grounds along the way. At their peak, some 70,000 geraniums alone were grown annually to beautify Great Northern property during the summer months.

Some of the first flowers grown in the Monroe greenhouses went to decorate two special Pullman cars used by Queen Marie of Romania and her party when she visited the United States in the Fall of 1926. Hundreds of little bouquets and other cut flowers were shipped daily from the greenhouses to decorate the dining, club and dome cars. At Christmas, 2,000 special corsages were made and shipped so that each lady bordering the train on Christmas Day could have one.

–from information compiled by Nellie Robertson

Great Northern Greenhouses in 1946

Interior of Great Northern Greenhouses at Monroe