Friday, January 20, 2006

Into the Grasslands


One of the most profitable portions of the entire Lines West was the line into central and north-central Montana. Departing the east-west mainline at Harlowton and heading north, The Milwaukee found itself in the heart of Montana's grain country where it met the Great Northern which had already staked a claim years before. Building from Lewistown west over giant trestles that span Spring Creek and Judith Gap even to this day, The Milwaukee set out across the plains toward Great Falls.

Although these lines were feeders to the main at Harlowton, the original vision was one of a second mainline running east-west across Montana north of the original. Large stations were built along the line at Lewistown and Great Falls in anticipation of a traffic boost that never came and the lines were left with only their north-south connection to Harlo.

Today the connection to Harlo is lost and the second main line (seen above as it rolls lazily through Denton, MT) is gone west of Geraldine where today's Montana Central ends. Beyond Geraldine is the all too familiar sight of a grassy rise in the ground, an occasional telegraph pole, and abandoned grain elevators that still stand tall above the plains. Slowly nature is reclaiming what is its own and leaving only the sounds of rustling wind through the grasslands of central Montana where The Milwaukee once rolled.