And the One that Remains
Only a block or so away from the old yards and station of Deer Lodge, MT rests one of the few tributes to the Milwaukee Road and its Lines West electrification. Resplendent in freshly painted orange and maroon, Little Joe E70 sits in the shadow of the old Deer Lodge prison, welcoming visitors from nearby I-90.
The Joe still reflects the power of the Milwaukee's electrification. The lead pantograph is raised and it looks ready to apply 5000 HP to the point of a transcon freight bound for the mountain crossings of Pipestone Pass or perhaps the Bitterroot Range.
This Joe is the only Milwaukee Joe to escape the torch, although examples of this design still exist in Brazil and Illinois from the other lines that acquired them. The spoked drivers are evident on the unit as are a few nods to its original Soviet Union destination. If one looks closely, the mount points for the bumpers that are so prevalent on European rolling stock are still there, nestled behind the large snow plow on the Joe's pilot. These units reflect a unique time in U.S. history: mounting tensions of the cold war, propaganda and fear at home, and a unique railroad that hung wires along its western mountain lines. It is fascinating to consider the journey that this Joe has been on and what the men and women who worked in and around it were a part of.
Compared to its original scope and ambitions, there are few reminders of the Milwaukee's Western Extension. The freshly painted Joe is certainly prominent among its remaining highlights and worthy of some thoughtful consideration.