Sweeping Curves and Great Expanse
Heading west from Butte we parallel the Butte Anaconda and Pacific and then keep pushing further west as it drops away behind us. Looking back, the Rockies are seen as a compilation of layers forming the horizon line. The varying shades of darkness give depth and great expanse to the scene from the old right of way near Finlin, MT. We are nearly 1540 miles form Chicago's Union Station, have crossed multiple mountain ranges and found ourselves in the shadows of old stations and substations both large and small. In these fields near Finlin, the old telegraphy and AC power lines seemingly fortify the old transcon on either side. Look carefully in the distance of these two photos and you can see them sweep slowly away in broad curves as they fade in the distance. The photo above looks south on this small stretch of north-south running, the photo below looks north.
It is only a small stretch of north-south mainline that ends in sweeping curves at either end, a carefully plotted and executed 'S' surveyed a century before these photos were taken. And despite the fact that rails are gone and grasses have reclaimed what was theirs, telegraphy wires remain in place. It is a little bit of history locked in time, resting here between great mountains and expanse. What the scrappers left behind still holds on and feigns a readiness to serve once again.
This is the Milwaukee's west: a haunting and lonely sweep of expanse showing both the great design and promise of what was and the future of what will inevitably be. They crash together in a single moment where you can feel time with its manifold sorrows and hopes. Where electrics roamed grasses flow in western winds. Where Superdomes graced elevated curves that sweep us in and out of this panorama, the line-side poles and AC lines just fade into distance. Where people have been, they no longer wish to go and names like Finlin drift away.