Slowly, ever so slowly, the dry and harsh plains of eastern Montana begin to yield to a new land that will soon reveal itself to westbound travelers. The Musselshell river makes its appearance rolling west - and the cuts that it has made in the landscape introduce a rockiness that was missing through the plains of Ingomar and Vananda.
The journey west has been filled with the solemn feeling of an industrial graveyard. It is a feeling of a missing 'hustle' or purpose that seems so close, and at the same time, so distant from the present. Time continues to erode this graveyard in real and figurative ways. Through the summer of 2011 massive rains to this part of Montana did heavy damage to the old Resourceful Railroad. Bridges are missing and fills are washed away. Further north along the Milwaukee's wheat lines to the Golden Triangle, the large trestle over the Judith River now lists across the center spans. Its foundations have eroded and it awaits funding for repair that will likely never come.
In times past, teams of railroad men and machinery would have quickly bolstered the eroding fills and buttressed the bridges that served as the lifeline to the transcon. Fresh ballast would now be in place, and a year later, slow orders lifted as freight from the Pacific Rim journeys east to the big markets of the Midwest and East Coast. The stark, stark contrast between those "what ifs" and the present reality make the Musselshell graveyard a gloomy place indeed. There are a few places where it seems rails could simply be relaid, sadly this is no longer among them.
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.