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Showing posts from August, 2012

Losing the Fight

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Location:  Vananda, MT
MP:  1181.5 Miles from Chicago

The same hot summer day that has accompanied the journey west continues at Vananda, MT.  Here, there are two things that bear witness to the old town - the house above and an impressive brick school just out of photo to the left.  The dry weather of Central Montana has aided in keeping them  standing but it's clear they are losing the fight.  Also out of picture and behind the camera is the Milwaukee's right of way through Vananda.  Of course the Milwaukee lost the fight many years ago and has hastened the demise of places like Vananda ever since.

Is it a long road to obscurity or a simple, straight path? The Milwaukee existed out on these plains for almost 70 years, a lifetime.  Its building ignited a new interest in railroads and a final run of settlers out onto these great expanses of grassland.  What would follow were hard times.  The drought of the 1930s, the Dust Bowl, and the collapse of institutions across the nati…

Walking in Old Ways

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"Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it" Jerimiah 6:16
On August 12, 1978 the Milwaukee Board of Directors announced their intent to abandon the Pacific Coast Extension. The final abandonment would come after an initial embargo in 1979, a brief reprieve, and then a final shutdown in 1980. Moving west only slightly from the previous photo brings us to the high summer sun of a 2003 day, 25 years after that regrettable announcement. US 12 has been working west with the old mainline since leaving Forsyth and the sun is climbing higher into the skies, yielding unfriendly lighting and harsh pictures of this old way west.
The small girder bridge that still links east and west in this photo is all part of a line that looks as though rails could simply be relaid and trains could run in a matter of weeks. It's interesting to compare this thought to the numbers being thrown around by states like California and companies lik…