Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Early Sunsets on Lines West

Many years ago a small town existed at the base of the Saddle Mountains along the shores of the large and powerful Columbia River. It was named Beverly and it marked the Milwaukee Road's crossing of the mighty Columbia across an enormous bridge that only Western Railroads could envision. The station and crew houses were well kept and a set of boxcab electrics was kept ready to assist trains to the top of the Saddle mountains.

The climate was harsh in this small Central Washington town. Breathtaking winds raced through the Columbia River Valley and across the brutal desert that surrounded it. The saddle mountains loomed tall and dark around the town and sage brush spotted the dry earth on all sides. But there was a pipeline to the outside world. It brought people to Beverly who lived and worked there and was a link to the world that didn't live in the shadows of the mountains. The world beyond Beverly was the world that didn't exist in the lonesome high desert. It was the world that was fed by technology and discovery, arts and people. The pipeline of the Milwaukee Road brought it into Beverly and supported it in the small town.

But Beverly always lived in the shadow of the mountains and the sun always set early there. In the late seventies as the Milwaukee accelerated its death march, the helpers and crews were pulled out of Beverly and the railroad's presence began to recede. It was dusk for the small town as what seemed unthinkable became unavoidable. Sunset occurred in 1980 with the end of the mighty transcon and the dismemberment of the pipeline that fed the small town of Beverly.

Today Beverly has closed shops, wind blown streets, and an occasional angry dog that wanders through the quiet. The high desert has resettled in the small town on the shores of the Columbia. The link to the world beyond the tall Saddle Mountains is quiet - as though it had never existed. The sun has set here and just like the railroad and its other hauntings, the sunset came early.

2 comments:

Dan said...

If the MILW were still around, it could have influenced all the fruit business currently in the greater Beverly area to ship by rail, instead of trucks.

LinesWest said...

Very true, there really is a market that could be served if it were still around. And lots of stack trains from the west too...