It is an interesting time we find ourselves in. Consider this: we are still able to look back at some of the things that defined the nation's growth and see them as they were. In another 50 years, these relics of past people, past towns, past lives will be truly gone. Another generation, perhaps two, will grow up in these old places and move out into the rest of the world. This movement has been ongoing for decades, but it has an accumulating effect. Little by little, many a bustling little town slowly becomes a quiet field of memory across America's frontier.
In 50 years, a trip along The Milwaukee Road and its Western Extension may still run along US 12, but how many more bridges will be missing? How many more miles of right of way tilled into the fields? How many old grain elevators will be left to mark an old settlement? How many will remember what was?
The photo shows the Handel elevator as it looked in July of 2003. Located near the town of Musselshell, MT the elevator stands on this summer day as the Milwaukee's mainline to the west lays dormant at its feet. You can still see the elevator name painted near the top, still see the tall silhouette from afar much as it was when 40 foot boxcars parked near its loading chutes. Days like this summer present an interesting time: the past is visible here, but only for now. The accumulation of years will see to that.