Distance was a word with which the Milwaukee Road was familiar. In fact, Western US railroads in general crossed exceptional distances that their Eastern counterparts would never match. The old NYC "Waterlevel" mainline from New York to Chicago was 961 miles and the PRR counted its "Broadway" route as 908 . The longer Erie (Hoboken to Chicago) was 976 . By contrast, the Great Northern line to Seattle was 1782 miles, and started in St. Paul .
1392.8 miles into its own push west, The Resourceful Railroad rolled through Ringling and below a captivating expanse of Big Skies. Ringling itself was named after John Ringling, one of the brothers of the Ringling Bros. Circus who had purchased land in the area . Small yards were at one time placed at Ringling for interchange with the White Sulphur Springs Railroad. This line diverged to the north, serving the small town of White Sulphur Springs. In later years, the line provided forest products to the mainline at Ringling, though the tourism boom that had been predicted with the arrival of the Milwaukee Road never materialized . The line is abandoned like the transcon that was its life blood, and the yard that was at the feet of the Ringling depot have long given way to the grasslands of the area.
From this distance, just a little south of town, the layout of small Ringling is clear. The depot lies along a flat and graded mainline with a few small buildings scattered nearby. In this photo, taken several years ago, even the AC power lines cut through the picture as though all is well. The wear on the depot, so evident up close, isn't obvious as the corners remain square and true. The expanse of green fields lend a picture of health to the scene, and the year might as well be 1972 but for the missing catenary. The arrival of a Little Joe, or perhaps an SD40-2 set with Locotrol seems imminent. From this distance, it's not hard to imagine a healthy transcon alive and well today.Sources:
2) "The Phoebe Snow - December 1964," http://www.streamlinerschedules.com
3) "GN-NP Comparison," http://www.gngoat.org/gn-np.htm
4) "Ringling - Russell County" http://centralmontana.com/communities/Ringling.htm