Stranger at the Gate

 
MP 1544.8 - near Morel, MT

As the last transcon built in the United States bisected its way across the mountainous state of Montana, not far from Deer Lodge, it arrived here near Morel.  Just about 1545 miles from the imposing granite of Chicago's Union Station it is found littered with the decaying evidence of something gone wrong.  

How frustrating to wander the halls of great and massive railroad stations or sit in the small waiting rooms of others and know without doubt that there used to be 'a way.'  There used to be a ticket to be purchased, a train to catch, and a place to go.  It wasn't hard to head to places with names like Harlowton, Miles City, Three Forks, Butte, Deer Lodge, Spokane, Othello, Seattle, Tacoma and all of those intermediate stops.  

But here near Morel, in this run of mainline miles between mountain ranges where speeds could be high and great open expanse of Montana and its huge skies surround the Resourceful Road the ever present reality hits hard.  The grading still lifts itself above the surrounding grasses, but piles of ties that were not worth salvage litter the miles of graveside here.  Fencing that could have never withstood the pressure of a Thunderhawk or Hiawatha now stands uncontested.  

The is a cold wind along these miles even in the heat of summer.  It whispers of things we've had but lost and reminds all who wonder that something has gone wrong.  This is an uncomfortable reality, waiting like a stranger at the gate.

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