Road Trip to Montana! December 2000
Had some rare free time while working in Seattle so I took a drive to Missoula, Montana to chase the Montana Rail Link and get some pictures of the old NP semaphores along the line. The MOW forces had been replacing them and I didn't want to miss an opportunity. A little time spent on the MRL discussion board provided some good information and places to start. The group is moderated by Paul Birkholz of Mountain West Rail. Paul and MRL engineer "Monad Dave" provided some dynamite information that I put to good use. I left work early Friday (a rare treat!) and headed east. It was a long but uneventful drive. I got a room and spent an hour or two reviewing the plan for the morning.
Former NP Station in Missoula
I got up early to scout around some and get my bearings. I was planning to catch the Gas Local going from Missoula to Thompson Falls and return. Took a quick shot at the former NP station and headed for McDonald's for breakfast.
French Fries and orange juice....here I go!
Sitting in the parking lot at the Golden Wretches, stuffing an eggamuffin in my face when the scanner comes alive! It's the Gas Local calling in for clearances and getting ready to roll. In a hail of hash browns and orange juice I roared out of the lot and headed for the west end of the yard
West End of Missoula Yard
Weird light this morning but that suits me just fine.
Let the hunt begin! The Gas Local is a short local train of tank cars that make up a rail pipeline from Missoula to Thompson Falls, MT. The local disappeared for a while as the pipeline from Missoula to Paradise is in place connecting two storage facilities. Unfortunately it runs through an Indian reservation and when the use rights came up for renewal it was decided that due to environmental concerns, it would not be in the Reservation's best interest to renew. So the local was back on! It's frequently light enough to take the original NP route over Evaro Hill but today it was the low road along the Clark Fork River, frequently paralleling the abandoned Milwaukee Road right of way.. MRL always puts out an eclectic array of power and today was no exception.
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