Location:  Near Bear Mouth, MT
1603 miles west of Chicago

The daylight is fading away in the photo above - in the space that has been cut by the Clark Fork River.  Here one finds the Milwaukee heading to Bearmouth, MT, making its way steadily west.  Still marking the path is the former NP (Montana Rail Link at the time this photo was taken) and not far away, empty tunnels that lie in unchanging darkness.  The searchlight signal of the old NP shows a high green along the steel rails still present, a lonely sentinel in a sad and lonely place.

The signatures of Milwaukee were fading even during the time of this photo, now itself 20 years old.  The gravel road preserves what was the right-of-way but telegraphy and other markers were quickly falling even then.   Traveling along I90 is now a trip through forgotten history and gravesites.  Where bridges once crossed the old transcontinental, fill has taken their place.  No more insulator panels that guard the roads above from the electrical lines beneath.  Now travelers roll across a slight rise in the ground without much notice.  It's an increasingly sad end, and adds an inescapable formality to the end of things, even now, 40+ years later.  It is as though the Resourceful Railroad has actually been buried by time and progress.

It is harder and harder for me to travel this mainline in the years that have passed, even since this photo was taken.  I can not help but think of time and its continual tear at life.  I'm desperate to try and stop it, but grasp at nothing but air and hold only memories.


Forrest said…
Finally, a POST. I was afraid you had Died, and i would never get to the Coast. THANK YOU.
LinesWest said…
Still here, we will keep going west:)
oamundsen@aol.com said…
Hi Leland: Sure have missed you, hope all is well with you....have not been west for some time now, hope to ride the CZ to Denver next month...at 83 things just began to catch up with me! Stay safe and healthy, Ole
SDP45 said…
I too look forward to the next post!

LinesWest said…
Workin' on it! Thanks all for the encouragement.
Jim Davis said…
Glad to see you are still posting, have missed reading you. Longtime reader and son of a Milwaukee Pacific Division executive.

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