Tuesday, March 17, 2009

41

I don't do a lot of black and white photography.  My first experiences with it were in a high school photo class and since then I've pretty much always shot color.  I migrated from print to slide film when I found the colors were more vibrant and the detail of a 50 speed film hard to beat.  More recently, I picked up digital photography.  It has great detail and excellent sharpness - although it does lack that artistic slide-film quality.  

On a cold spring day back in 2007 I ventured out into the mountains near Plummer, ID.  Plummer was a famous spot for the Milwaukee Road.  At Plummer the connection to Spokane splits from the main transcon and heads north.  Meanwhile, the freight-only transcon continues its westwardly migration out into the rolling wheatfields of the Palouse.  

Before its arrival on some of the world's most fertile soil, the Milwaukee road makes one more pass through the mountains of Eastern Idaho with tunnel 41.  On the western side of the tunnel a small town was plotted named Sorrento, lending its name to the 2500 foot long tunnel as well.  

Overgrowth and undergrowth have become synonymous with the Milwaukee's western extension in the years since abandonment and here, at tunnel 41, that remains true.  The tunnel is long and dark and on this cold spring day the water that slowly drips from the roof collects in stalagmites of ice resting on the old roadbed floor.  Unlike so many of the other long tunnels on the western extension, 41 shows no signs of electrification as it was always located in the "gap."  Trains through here always relied on steam or diesel to wind their way through the treeless Palouse country that exists just beyond the western portal.

The view above is out of the eastern portal, looking back towards Plummer and all of those amazing places that exist between MP 1840.5 (tunnel 41) and Chicago.  On this cold and wet spring day, with the snows still in place and trees bare, the image is essentially a black and white.  One of my few.


5 comments:

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Bravo! On you experiment with black and white, Leland. Only black and white can capture the stark cold emptiness of an abandoned tunnel!

My use of black and white when shooting much of the photography you see in my blog was one of simple economics. On a box boys salary, black and white made perfect sense because not only was the film cheaper, but I could afford to do my own processing and enlargements.

As of today, there is only one processor for Kodak film available in the United States.
The switch from celluloid film to digital chips is as distinct as the switch from vinyl records to cd’s.

Glad you offered this up!

Kurt Clark said...

Is this near the MILW tunnel that's been for sale recently?

Anonymous said...

Now Leland, where's the rest of the story? The one involving lots of mud, ice and a tow truck?

Marc

SDP45 said...

I liked the moodiness of the photo. It shows the forgotten MILW in a hopeless light.

Dan

LinesWest said...

Thanks for the comments folks. Yep, this was the tunnel that was for sale awhile back (maybe still is??).

And as for part 2 of the story, well, okay Marc.