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Railroading In BIG SKY Country !
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 Posted: Sat Sep 5th, 2015 03:07 pm
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jtrain
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Thanks Herb, but I doubt I'll ever have the time to actually join let alone buy and operate a speeder.  I'll be sticking with models.

--James;)



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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 12:59 am
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jtrain
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Seems about time to add some more stuff to this thread.  So far I've gotten to quite a few places around the state for historical railroad stuff, but this time I wanted to take a look at what's still around the state:

So then, might as well start with the mighty, Bozeman Pass.

The Northern Pacific railroad ran on this route long before the BN merger, and in fact had a passenger train that would run from Livingston, on the mainline, southbound to Gardiner, at the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  There's only a couple of historical photos I've seen of this route thus far, but it must have been a sight to behold.

However, Bozeman Pass is even more impressive.  Topping out at aroud 5700 feet, Bozeman isn't the highest pass in the world traveled by train, but it is certainly one of the most grueling in the region, Bozeman MT sits at 4800 feet on the west side and Livingston sits at 4500 feet.  The two cities are only 20 miles apart, so the grade ended up being 2.2%.  Decades of maintenance and regrading has dropped the pass down to a 1.8%, but with serving up to 30 trains a day (half of which are 200+ car coal trains out of the Powder River), all westbound freights and some eastbound trains require helper service via the Montana Rail Link.  This makes fro some interesting lash-ups by the BNSF. 

I have not yet gotten photos of the tunnel, but here are some shots on the east slope (Livingston) and the entrance to the canyon on the west side (Bozeman):











Hopefully I can get a chance in the next couple of weeks to get pictures of the tunnel.  The west portal is easily accessible, but the East portal will takes some maneuvering off the highway to get a good angle.  I-90 basically runs directly over the tunnel.

--James:java:



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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 01:11 am
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jtrain
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Bozeman Pass really is (I think) prettier than Marias (and a bit warmer).  However, Bozeman Pass is the alternate route for most BNSF trains since Marias is owned by BNSF and Bozeman Pass is owned on Montana Rail Link.  The original route the Northern Pacific took went through Butte (or Helena, if taking the north route) with mountain passes on both sides of the town.  This makes the NP route unfavorable, but necessary as a back-up route for the BNSF.  The good thing is that Montana Rail Link runs from Billings to Missoula and beyond via the Helena Route.

Up past Missoula, the route travels through Ravalli, Dixon, Paradise, Plains, and Thompson Falls.  This route also has a back-up through St. Regis.

Here are some photos of that area following the Gas Local, a twice-daily train that connects a gas pipeline in Thompson Falls to Missoula (major break in the pipeline's run).  The rough terrain, combined with narrow valleys and many residents against gas pipelines makes it impractical to run a pipeline from Thompson Falls to Missoula.














And in case that was a little confusing, here's a map from the Montana Rail Link website:



--James:java:




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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 01:20 am
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jtrain
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Next up, I'm going back to Livingston where there exists a small railroad museum built in the old Nothern Pacific Depot.  I've recently started volunteering at the museum (which closes in the winter, but is open for large events) and I've joined the local model railroad club in the basement.  I'll get to the club later, but here are some photos of the depot, the outside scenes, and some of the exhibits.  Admission is only $4 and is well worth spending if anyone ever swings by in the summer months.















The club is in the basement, and the entrance is next to those flowers.

--James :java:



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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 01:24 am
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I'll finally end this slough of posts with some shots of a train I caught headed east bound out of Helena, first coming to the Missouri River valley through the mouth of a canyon:







From there, the train would continue to head through Bozeman, over Bozeman Pass, on to Livingston, before continuing east and out of the state through Billings.

--James:java:




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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 01:36 am
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Herb Kephart
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You are really lucky to live in that open country, James!

You can see those pesky Indians coming from miles off.

Herb



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 Posted: Mon Sep 7th, 2015 08:03 am
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pmkramer
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James,
Congratulations on moving to Bozeman! I lived there from 1995-2005 and it still holds a special place in my heart. If you weren't aware and IIRC, MRL doesn't own the RR but has a long term lease with the BNSF with an agreement to route a certain amount of traffic over MRL. I got to work a couple of weekends on the Montana Daylight when it was still operating and did some employee appreciation trips for MRL. I saw parts of Montana that I never would of seen otherwise. I particularly remember Mullen pass and the Misouri river between Three Forks and Helena. This was right after the SP&S 700's Montana Steam Trip which was exciting to chase. There is a good MRL yahoo group if you haven't been there yet.

Make sure you check out the Alder Gulch RR in Virginia City. I volunteered on the #12 one summer but unfortunately it out of service because it's due for flues. It is the cleanest, shiniest steam locomotive I've ever seen. It was so much fun that I went and got a job and worked on the D&SNG for 6 summers.
Good luck and say hi to everyone.
Patrick



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 Posted: Tue Sep 8th, 2015 06:29 am
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Ray Dunakin
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Great pics, thanks for posting them! And congrats on the move to Bozeman. Lots of gorgeous country in MT. My brother and his wife lived in Big Timber for several years. Now they live in a cabin they built themselves, in the hills north of Reed Point.



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 Posted: Wed Sep 9th, 2015 02:32 am
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Buck
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James, it's funny seeing all these pictures on freeeails as upposed to driving by like I usualy am.



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