The lands east of the Cascades and west of the Bitterroots are remarkable in their variety and beauty. Between these two ranges lie high desert country, rolling wheat fields, foot hills, massive rivers, tumbling sage, abundant wild flowers, rain shadows, endless skies, and a long, long right of way plotted by America's Resourceful Railroad.
To this land between mountain crossings the Milwaukee Road journeyed. While other parts of the Western Extension existed in near infamy, this land existed in relative quiet. Like the lands east of electrification, it existed out of the spotlight and away from many photographer's cameras. The summer heat is harsh and the treeless plains offer little relief. The winter is cold and the winds have little to break their howl as they roll across the undulating landscape.
The small town of Ralston sits along the right of way here. It rests beneath Washington skies as the clouds that break apart over the Cascade Range roll out and across this land. The grasses sway in the summer winds and the grain elevator watches over the small town. It's a scene that's played out in thousands of places across the West, and many places along the old Resourceful Railway. The old station has been removed and placed nearby in a farmer's field. Half of the building is now collapsed and the paint has been missing for many years. The grasses have taken over much of the old right of way here as well. Although it remains part of the John Wayne Trail, maintenance is uncommon and use is light. Much like the days when orange and black locomotives plied the rails, visitors to Ralston are rare.
For those who travel with the Milwaukee Road between the mountain ranges, places like Ralston are a quiet place to stop and ponder. Apart from the occasional farm truck that rolls by with a wave, this is a lonely journey in a large world. There is no safety in numbers here - no constant noise from a nearby interstate, no lights to chase away the darkness of long nights. Now, all of these years beyond the bankruptcy and abandonment, there is no lonely railroad either - just the traveler and that thick feeling of depth that goes beyond what is simply seen. This is the land between mountain ranges and between electrifications. In life, and along the Resourceful Railroad, all part of an incredible journey.