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Showing posts from November, 2012

Old Time Elegance

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On November 28, 1905 the Milwaukee Road Board of Directors approved the the Pacific Extension to the West.  98 years later, a hot summer day finds Lavina, MT situated 1290 miles from Chicago out along the approved extension.
The remnants of that extension remain scattered on the ground at Lavina as the concrete signal base attests.  But like the other miles and miles of this reach west, the grasses have overtaken and now blow gently in the breezes of a hot summer afternoon.  No smell of baking creosote or hot ballast on this summer day.  This little town is actually "New" Lavina after being moved to the present location when surveyors for the Milwaukee Road plotted the mainline through this part of Montana [1].  The old town and its stage coach stop were left behind to welcome the station calls of trains traversing the Pacific Coast Extension.
In the background of the Milwaukee's mainline rests The Adams Hotel, an interesting story in itself.  Built as a center of eleg…

They Return Once Again

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2189:  The miles from Chicago's Union Station to Seattle, WA.  At one time, 656 of them electrified and served by two transcontinental passenger trains, the Olympian and the Columbian.  In 1948 The Columbian, train 18, departed Seattle at 22:30 every evening and arrived in Chicago at 8:45am, the morning of the third day.  The Olympian Hiawatha operated on a more limited schedule and completed the same traverse in only 45 hours [1].  Between the two end points of the line were 5 mountain ranges, two sections of electrification, and ever changing geography.  Leaving for the big eastern cities, the trains traversed the the sub-tropical rain forests of the Cascades where precipitation amounts climb toward 100 inches per year [2].  Then to the rain shadows of the Central Washington desert where small outcroppings of people had settled when the new rail line built west.  The Palouse and the Bitterroots followed and were chased by the Rockies of Central Montana and the rain shadow that …