Making the Turn


A fight awaits the push west as the long sweeping turn at Vendome comes into view, showing the rise that will take the transcron around Vendome Loop and to the crest of the Rockies and Continental Divide.  These are not the Cascades, and the grandeur of the land is different.  In the Cascades, a sub-tropic rainforest covers snow covered cliffs and magnificent edifices that separate the West Coast from the inland.  By contrast, here the vegetation is sparse and marked with sage brush and summer heat that yields a thirsty land, scorched by blistering sun.  

The Milwaukee's course across the Rockies is less visible than the NP's Homestake Pass which closely follows the well-traveled I90 to Butte.  Old trestles and rusted rails still mark that line.  Still, its fate seems little different than the Resourceful Railroad's own ascent.  Homestake pass seems chained and destined to be a question mark in the minds of those that choose to look from the 4 lanes of concrete.  In-vehicle entertainment makes questions about it far less likely anyway.


Not far to the south, and out of sight from passersby, the Milwaukee's similar attack on the Rockies is visible, made famous by the civil engineering feet of the Loop itself.  Rising swiftly out of the valley floor and making the turn, the Milwaukee quickly finds itself looking back across the land it has overcome.  Now many years later, the Jefferson River Valley still lays below and storm clouds gather on the heights of distant peaks.  They cast the last hours of day into dark hues that obscure details like a fading memory covered by the clouds of too many years.  

Comments

Evan Holland said…
I am really hoping that I will find the opportunity to hike some of the Milwaukee railbed in the years ahead. This is scenery and history that I would like to spend some time with.
oamundsen@aol.com said…
Leland: I was just taking a two mile walk on a trail here in Ithaca, NY which once was the roadbed of one of the many railroads serving this part of upstate NY. As I walked, I got a melancholy feeling (which, as a person long retired, I know well) of being cast off from a useful life. Your portrayals of the former route of the Milwaukee Road evoke such deep feelings of this nature and much of the impact is the visual. Thanks.
LinesWest said…
As always - thank you both for the comments. Melancholy is the way all of this feels to me too - a mix of anger at what was wasted and sadness for what is forgotten. A lot of these old pictures are slide film, so the colors are seem really vivid and they capture the mood well. Fuji Velvia was always good for that.

Best to you both
-Leland

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