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Showing posts from August, 2008

The Saddles

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Washington is called the "Evergreen State," but there are parts of it that defy that title. The Milwaukee Road's path across the Saddle Mountains is situated in one such high desert where the rains rarely fall and the sage brush tumbles with the blistering hot winds.

After climbing the Bitterroots and descending into the St. Joe River valley, the Milwaukee Road blazes a path out across the Eastern Washington Palouse where some of the most fertile soils in the world support an amazing bounty of grain. As the line works its way west, however, the grasses give way to dry scab lands and the annual rain fall decreases until the line finds itself in the Central Washington high desert. It is here, in this desert country, travelers on nearby I90 are warned to turn off their car a/c as they climb the grueling grade from the Columbia River Valley towards Kittitas. After crossing the mighty Columbia at Beverly, the Milwaukee Road climbs the same mountains to finally crest the Sa…