I am looking for information or information source to determine what may have been the route and time for a trip from Philadelphia to Bismarck ND and back in 1936
Bismark ND was on the Northern Pacific mainline, so from Chicago you could take the North Coast Limited directly to Bismarck.
You'd be on the Burlington Route from Chicago to St.Paul, running along the east (WI) side of the Mississippi River ("Where Nature Smiles 300 Miles"). In St.Paul the NP would take over the train (probably with an A class Northern). The CB&Q was owned by NP and Great Northern, both of which only went as far east as St.Paul MN, so the Burlington pulled NP and GN trains between St.Paul and Chicago.
I do not have any schedules, for 1936, but I can give a schedule from November of 1937.
The easiest route would been PRR to Chicago Union Station, and then CB&Q from Union Station; this routing involved a 10 ½ hour layover in Chicago.
Lv North Philadelphia at 7:53 p.m., on the Manhattan Limited and arrive in Chicago at 12:30 p.m. the next day.
Lv Chicago at 11:00 p.m., on the North Coast Limited (sleepers were open at 9:00 p.m.), and arrive in Bismarck at 7:31 p.m. the next day.
Taking the B&O from Philadelphia would have required a transfer from Grand Central Station in Chicago to Union Station (the transfer coupon would been included in a through ticket), and much longer layover unless you did change trains in Washington. The Capitol Limited left Philadelphia (Chestnut St. station) at 2:08 p.m., and arrived in Chicago at 8:20 a.m. Or, you could take the Columbian at 6:23 p.m., arrive in Washington at 8:42 p.m. and leave at 8:50 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Limited, and arrive in Chicago at 1:45 p.m.
If you were in a hurry, you could take the afternoon Twin Zephyr out of Chicago at 4:00 p.m., arrive in St. Paul at 10:29 p.m., take the Alaskan at 10:40 p.m., and arrive in Bismarck at 11:15 a.m.
Using the Milwaukee from Chicago Union to St. Paul would have given a little more breathing time before boarding the Alaskan; the Hiawatha left Chicago at 1:00 p.m. and arrived in St. Paul at 7:30 p.m.
If anyone has schedules form 1936, please make any necessary corrections.