Fading Signatures

It was a clash of timelines.

The year was 2003, on a hot Montana summer day in late July. I had risen early that day and pointed the truck west along dirt back roads to follow the abandoned Mussleshell Division of the Milwaukee Road as it ventured west toward Harlowton. I joined US12 at Forsyth and continued my trek through old towns named Vananda and Sumatra. The fading signature of the Milwaukee followed closely, marked by a continuous dirt rise in the ground or occasional bridge that was left in place when the tracks were removed.

I veered from US12 at Harlowton, now following the old electrified Rocky Mountain Division. Toward Ringling we ventured, through the towns of Martinsdale and Lennip on the way. A few miles west of Lennip, where the old railroad closely follows the state highway, I found two signals standing alone and neglected. I stopped and took this photograph that seems to looks across and through periods of time. Seen here are the remnants of America's final transcon, once proclaimed state of the art, now battered and decrepit. From a startling contrast to the dry and desert scenery around them to a perfect compliment to the deserted and quiet landscape. It's not difficult to see what the future holds, and still the link to what the past was is undeniable. In one place, in one image, so many emotions and so much time.


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