Modelers model the past and present eras in railroading history, but how often does a modeler indulge into the foreseeable future?
Working out of town for a couple of weeks in Missoula has put me within striking distance of checking out the town of Kalispell, on Flathead Lake and Southwest of Glacier National Park.
In 2005 the Mission Mountain Railroad began operations in the area, shuttling freight cars from 14 businesses inside and North of Kalispell along a short branch line to the BNSF transcontinental mainline at Columbia Falls. However, starting in about 2011, there were talks of moving several rail-served businesses in downtown Kalispell to a former gravel plant just north of Hwy 2 (the east-west road that runs to Glacier National Park). Finally the environmental study has been completed and construction on the new site will begin as early as spring, 2017.
One industry will most certainly be in the park, CHS Inc. Which sees between 350 and 450 carloads of grain shipped out of their Kalispell facility currently. While some might find the news saddening to hear that the tracks are being torn out of downtown.
I'm imagining 3-4 tracks running the length of the park that will eventually serve 10-12 industries ranging from the size of a CHS elevator down to single car lots on a team track. For some info on the Shortline railroad, here's the article: http://flatheadbeacon.com/2012/05/31/working-the-short-line/
The main motive power seems to be from a couple of used GP units from the Burlington Northern and Union Pacific railroads and an SW1500.
Outside of the future industrial park, the railroad's main customer is Plum Creek Lumber which has facilities between Kalispell and Columbia Falls. All track between Columbia Falls and Kalispell is leased from the BNSF, but the Mission Mountain Railroad owns another branch further west that heads north to Eureka, Montana.
I don't have pictures of my own yet (still working out that part) but here are some from railpictures.net:
After sleeping on it, I decided that this would be my next project! So today I spent researching the area and started a new blog to organize my information (and provide a platform to upload photos). For those of you interested, blogger is free, gives unlimited photo storage, and you can link photos to Freerails when posting on threads.
I'd like to start by showing some sat images from Google Maps along with my highlighting to help people visualize what I'm talking about. This is the City of Kalispell and the proposed "Glacier Rail Park":
And here's a closeup of the property:
This rail park will need to support 48 car grain units for the CHS Inc, which as I said will handle about 90-95% of the grain in the entire grain production in the Flathead Valley.
In addition, the park is supposed to host a team track and up to 10 industries.