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Showing posts from September, 2009

Montana Skies

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Skies tell a remarkable story in their ever changing features and moods. Sunsets in the summer often speak of a long day's field work in hot weather. Wintery moon rises in a clear sky speak of cold infinities. At one point the sky seems happy and celebratory, at another, somber and moody. The skies over the Milwaukee Road's west have revealed all of these and more.
Few remaining stretches of Lines West show their ties to the Milwaukee's unique early 20th century signature. While all of the western roads can boast of high bridges and long tunnels, the Milwaukee created a unique calling card in the form of its catenary. While the Northern Pacific was never far from the Milwaukee's western extension, it was never difficult to tell the two lines apart. As they made their way across Montana's ever changing landscapes, the wooden poles supporting the electric lifeline to Milwaukee power were a clear sign and symbol of the Resourceful Railroad. Railroad legend ofte…

4 Years of Memories

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From the archives, now four years back:In the late winter of 1977 (December 19 to be exact), the last transcontinental railroad that was built in America filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Its lines across the mid-west and west lay in ruins as a result of a complicated and inter-twined series of events that, at best, are difficult to understand. The winter of 1979 would be its final winter and in 1980 The Milwaukee Road sold its Western Extension to scrapers from Terry, MT to Tacoma, WA. The company that emerged (with track only in the Midwest) would last only five more years before being sold to The Soo Line, thus completely ending the granger railroad that never really came to grips with being a large transcontinental route.

As a matter of fact, the 1970s weren't a happy time for railroads in general. At least up until the Enron fiasco, the record for most money lost in a single day by a corporation was held by the Penn-Central Railroad. The Rock Island Railroad would, l…