Miles City, Montana was a point of activity for the Milwaukee Road's line to the Pacific Coast. Company shops were located here as was the division headquarters for the line's Trans Missouri division. The Trans Missouri linked the Milwaukee's famous electrified Rocky Mountain Division in the west with Mobridge and the crossing of the Missouri River in the east. Here, in the Trans Missouri, the line plied the plains of the great American West.
Comprised of both fertile ground and desolate badlands, the Trans Missouri wrestled directly with the vast distances and big skies that greet westward travelers to this day. While many seem appalled at the boredom of traversing this land, it offers unique opportunities to witness the true scale of the world in which we live. Out on the Trans Missouri, it is difficult to hide from the sobering reality that we are, in fact, quite small.
Trains arriving in Miles City were subject to 500 mile inspections. Great hotshot freights with names like Thunderhawk paused here in Miles City as they made their sprint across the plains. Miles City saw the Milwaukee Road's passenger power show true grit across these plains: a single locomotive held point on the line's varnish for the entire distance from St. Paul to the start of wires over the Rocky Mountain Division. Miles City was also a home to the rival NP, and the two railroads left town heading east within a stone's throw of each other. Miles City was a real point of activity.
Today in Miles City, much of the old Milwaukee Shops still stand. Via their connection with the old NP (now BNSF), they're even in business as a private corporation, Transco. The salvage of the shops has led to another interesting remnant here on the Trans Missouri: mainline. From the crossing of the Tongue River on the west side of town, to the shops and connection with the old NP on the east, the mainline rails of the Pacific Coast Extension still hold ground. Standing on the Tongue River bridge and staring west, it's not difficult to imagine the rails continuing out across the flatlands ahead. It would be another 200 miles to electrification and the Rocky Mountain Division. 200 miles out across a vast landscape looked over by the big skies of the Trans Missouri. Although famous for its electrics and mountain ranges, this too was Milwaukee Country. Land of the Resourceful Railroad.
Lost Rail is pleased to share a first publication. This is a collection of photographs taken over the course of a year spent in the Palouse. The photos are broken into the distinct and beautiful four seasons of the country. Photos are sourced from the pages of this blog as well as others taken around the Palouse and Inland Empire of Washington State.