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Showing posts from October, 2005

That Sad and Lonely Feeling

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It was a December day on Sunday morning, I remember that well. I sat in Church and looked out the window at the world outside. I was a dark shell of a man that day, weighed down by things that seemed to strike deep at the heart. Outside, a snow began to fall, and fall, and fall. The dormant browns of winter were being replaced by a beautiful white blanket that covered the muddy spoiled banks of the nearby housing construction projects. As I stepped outside into the gathering whiteness, I was struck that there was something that should be done. I returned home and gathered my camera gear and pointed the old truck north and out of Pullman.

The Milwaukee Road's last winter was in 1979/80, having been in bankruptcy for two years already. I've been told that winter was a brutal and cold one; one that seemed to punish the crews and the people who worked so desperately to keep things rolling across Lines West. Snow has an uncanny ability to beautify and mystify a scene, and the photog…

Sign Posts on the Journey

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What evidence exists that yesterday actually happened? I suppose if yesterday had a big enough event, people are still talking about it today, but how often does that really happen? Most yesterdays seem to be made up of normal everyday life. The sun rises, life continues much as it did the day before, the sun sets, and the world prepares itself for tomorrow.

At some point, however, enough yesterdays have added up that looking around at the world brings to life a startling revelation: life has changed. The kids have become grown-ups, the things that were new seem outdated, and all of those days that seemed so similar to one another have been relegated into the lands of distant memory.

How much looking does it take to start finding evidence of real yesterdays? On an old brick building in Butte, Montana are signs posted high on the walls that read "Danger High Voltage" but there are no wires anywhere near them. Across a two lane blacktop nearby is an old bridge that has a faded o…

State of the Art

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Milwaukee Road Substation Number 2. Location: Loweth, Montana.


If you were to travel west along the Rocky Mountain Division from Harlowton it wouldn't take too long to find Substation 2. Beyond the abandoned depot at Martinsdale, through the small town of Lennip, and up a winding grade to the crest of the Big Belt Mountains lies Loweth and Substation 2. Next to the substation lie the foundations for the operator houses built for the people who lived and worked in the shadows of the lage brick building, but today the residents are cattle and a few trees that have grown up inside the old concrete foundations. Still, the substation itself is an imposing figure as it sits solemnly at the crest of the grade, still tall, still square, still proud even in its silence. The name above the window is hardly readable, and the windows have been shredded by vandals and time but it doesn't take much to let the mind drift back to a different year, when the old Substation was state of the art…

The Journey Beneath Big Skies

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It's been said every journey begins with a single step. Perhaps a small spark of inspiration or an inexplicable urge in the heart to seek the unknown and discover the world that exists beyond the shelters of routine. What really exists out there? Where will it lead you?

Maybe to the top of high mountain passes where early snows blanket evergreens and tall trestles that seem to inexplicably hang in the sky. Then to the meandering rivers of the big plains where large bridges traverse waters named Yellowstone and Missouri. Into darkened tunnels that sigh with cold air and the rustling sounds of birds and bats, where the light at the far end seems brilliantly bright but too far away. Through rain forests and rain shadows. Beyond places named Garcia, Corfu, and Eagle's Nest. All the way to a roaring metropolis and then back again to the serenity of big blue skies and forgotten towns.

Somewhere along that journey into the past and into the heart is a place like Waltham, MT: two elevat…