Showing posts from June, 2021

Fade Away

With the Rockies as backdrop, Butte begins its fade from view as the transcon heads west.  The tower of the station is framed by the lone railroad structure that still marks the way out of town.   Another perspective below shows the tracks of the Butte Anaconda and Pacific still marking the path.    In the dry heat of a 2003 summer day, when this set of photos was taken, the fade of America's last transcon doesn't seem all that irreparable.  Surely it wouldn't be hard to get some steel relaid?  Two decades on, 20 more years of fade, and the cruelty of life is setting in with increasing finality: once we've lost something, it's not coming back. When the Milwaukee started its grand enterprise west, it was the Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific.  Following one of its several bankruptcies, it emerged as the Milwaukee Road.  The tilted rectangle was always the symbol, but the graphics and lettering would change through the years.  Hidden in plain view, and fading on

Timeless and Timed

  What can weeds and platforms tell us?  In the weeds are relics of an old empire of electric power.  The stubs of catenary poles peak out just above the wild flowers and brush.  On the ground, a path of concrete still defies the ages and arcs out and away from the old Butte station whose tower rises against the Rockies.  Adventures and journeys started and ended here, the fears of men and women and the courage in their face played out daily in the lives that intersected those old days.   Though we spend much of our day acting as our own gods, signs like these remind us that the world has kept spinning forward.  We are not gods at all, but mortals who spend but a few days beneath the sun.  Though we think very highly of ourselves, we forget our weaknesses.  The relics here remind us of those fears and weaknesses, while the mountains look on in a timeless pose that is always present.   Unlike the mountains, the named passenger trains have come and gone from this place, electric locomoti