Tuesday, May 15, 2012
In the rustling tall grasses of Montana prairie the trek west continues. The civilization of Miles City, with its offices, restaurants, and Wal-marts, briefly blotted out the empty feelings of this land - but here near MP 1140, the expanse is inescapable. In different times, this was a place named Sheffield, but like so many other locations across the Milwaukee's West, it is now more a name with no place.
The old corrals here certainly date back to Milwaukee times. Feed pens and loading ramps still dot the site but it's not hard to see the general decay of decades. In the West, some elements of the Milwaukee are simply gone, but others paint a picture larger than that of the railroad itself. Here, the reflection painted is one of a changed culture and changed economy as well as the vanished transcon. Like a forgotten memory that tugs at the mind but will not rise to the surface, the days of cattle by rail exist only in places like these. The grasses are tall and the wood is old. There's the sound of an old chain hitting a post, clanking in the soft wind. Years ago at the end of a business day the gates were closed and the people walked away. But like the old railroad that plied these parts, there would be no next time. Days grow to months and then to years with the tall prairie grasses gradually taking back and obscuring the past.