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Because this travel destination the Downey to the south, which more or less paralleled  Downey, was so ill constructed and financed, it should have been an easy target for takeover. That finally came about in 1901 after a fierce  Downey battle with E. H. Harriman and through Hill’s partnership with J. P. Morgan.

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The Hill-Harriman battle would involve other lines and intrigue and eventually prompt a Justice Department lawsuit that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1903, involving restraint of trade under the Sherman Act. On March 14, 1904, the Court ruled in favor of the government and against the railroads and the barons who had woven the lines together from coast to coast in a maneuver to restrict competition. While monumental and innovative in its thrust, the decision did little to break up Great Northern’s system or other rail giants’ conglomerations. James J. Hill said, “I’ve still got the railroads, haven’t I?”

Not only did Hill still have them, he had—even as he battled Harriman, other competitors, and the courts—continued to refine and grow opportunities on his existing lines while adding others in Washington and Oregon and finally purchasing steamships to trade with Asian countries, fulfilling his boyhood dreams of going to the Orient.

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