The last two winters that gripped the Milwaukee's system before the abandonments of 1980 were harsh. Leased units from the B&O and Canadian National were used to fill in for disabled Milwaukee locomotives in 1978. This was driven by the need to maintain some semblance of system fluidity.
As 1978 wore into 1979 and the first traffic embargoes on Lineswest in October, 1/3 of the locomotive fleet was out of service. Ordered to reactivate the Western Extension soon after, the Milwaukee limped forward with strings of dilapidated GE locos and worn out GPs. The winter across the west was no less inviting than the year before and the best locomotives were forcibly held to points east, away from much of the transcontinental traffic. How sad, to ponder the "Electric Way Across the Mountains" in these final hours, in this final state.
Along the logging branch to Bovill, ID, a few rails remain in the remnants of the yard that still remembers those last cold winters. A classic Milwaukee switch stand leans to the right in the low sun of a cool winter day. A time to reflect on those cold winters, now almost 30 years past.
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