Building Forward and Onward

Often, it is the things just below the surface that make a history or place interesting.  Old stories of personal sacrifice or challenge that make up the big history are often quite special.  These things lie just below the surface of what is normally seen, weaving the fabric of history into what is now casually observed as "current."

The piles of rock and filler that abound in the picture of Deer Lodge, MT lie atop one of those intriguing old stories.  In the distance, a few poles jut into the sky between the trees.  They are a reminder that this is a special place.  This is a place where America's final transcontinental railroad pushed west toward the mountains in the distance.  This is a place where Little Joes pulled time sensitive Thunderhawk and XL Specials up for crew changes at the nearby depot.  They rolled out beneath those old poles, from between the trees and into the rails of the Milwaukee's Deer Lodge yards, now home to large piles of DOT filler and debris.

Beneath those piles, just beneath the surface, lie the ruins of a company that pushed forward and onward.  It has been a long time since a headlight pierced that space between the trees, even longer since electric wire provided the potential to drag Thunderhawks across the challenging Montana landscape.  These were the visions of progress carried out in their day.  It's not difficult to look at the old poles and mountains in the distance and imagine a scene from yesteryear.  It was a different time:  building and expansion that feels more incredible with each passing year.  It was a bold vision, a bold execution, and a quiet end to the push onward.


Anonymous said…
Is this north of town by the Kohrs Farmstead? Doesn't look familiar.

Fred Hyde
LinesWest said…
Hi Fred,

You're pretty much right, you're looking railroad 'west' towards the Kohrs Farmstead. Those old catenary poles mark the eastern edge of the ranch I think. Directly to your right is the old Deer Lodge depot.

SDP45 said…

I really do want to go see what was once the MILW in Montana. I had a taste of it at St. Regis a few years ago, and this post makes me want to see more.

Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said…
It's going to be road-trip time again in 2-3 years. Follow the main line and remains west from Minneapolis to the Pacific Coast! Dan, time to meet in Othello again? Leland, where do you live??

Fred Hyde
LinesWest said…
Hi Fred -- a road trip sounds great. Up until a couple years ago I was out in E. Washington but now find myself in Louisiana. Still, keep me informed, going through MT is always a wonderful time.

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