For Christmas this year my family and I trekked east to the Central Montana town of Stanford. As readers of this blog know I usually visit here in the summer however our last two trips have been “off season” thanks to our desire to spend more time with our young niece.
Travelling in winter can has it challenges especially when there are 3 passes to cross between my home and Stanford. Fortunately on the trip east we encountered no issues. When we arrived in town we found no snow and temperatures in the mid-teens. Christmas Eve day saw around 4″ of snow fall with temperatures plummeting to -8 on Christmas morning. The snow was the consistency of powdered sugar and wasn’t even slippery. Other than having to sit in a very cold vehicle getting around is pretty easy.
On Christmas Day I told my family I didn’t expect any trains since almost all the trains passing through Stanford are low priority manifests. I was shocked when just after 3pm a manifest rolled south through town. I headed out and found one of the remaining locations with sunlight still on it.
As the sun is about to set on Christmas Day, BNSF’s southbound M-SHMLAU exits the Windham tunnel. In just a few moments the sunny part of Christmas will be gone. For the crew the remaining 8 or so hours to Laurel will be in the dark 0 degree night.
On the day after Christmas clouds once again ruled and when the northbound Laurel-Shelby rolled through I headed out for a couple of locations I knew would work well with the clouds and light snow. In addition to this image of the train at Hay Creek north of Geyser I caught it in the canyon between Spion Kop and Raynesford at the Williams Creek bridge.
The “Laurel-Shelby” train crosses Hay Creek north of Geyser, MT. The snow and 10 degree temperatures don’t seem to hamper operations through Central Montana.