Welcome to the CMR. On the morning of our excursion the door to CMR headquarters is wide open.
After the night photo shoot my 5:30am alarm came mighty early. Since I was going for a train ride an early call was ok in my book. I made a quick trip from Stanford back over to Denton for the morning safety meeting and briefing on the trip. Jay reviewed the plan of the day and we covered some basic safety item with train, our crew, and our caboose. Sure we are all railfans and think we know better, but reviewing safety tips for the day was an important step.
At 7:45am our CMR adventure headed west from Denton to the station of Arrow Creek where Carla and Kristi ran the power around the train and set us up for a couple of photos. At Arrow Creek the Highwood mountains formed a wonderful back drop for a very CMR scene. In the coming months the railroad plans to repair the washout a few miles to the west and restore train service through the Arrow Creek canyon to Square Butte and Geraldine.
Stopped at Arrow Creek, MT our little train poses for a photo under the Big Skys of Montana.
Since the Central Montana is mostly former Milwaukee Road and was operated by BN for just a few years its MILW heritage shows through everywhere. West of Denton we passed several signs from the MILW era including a flanger board for a crossing and a Station One Mile sign. The Station One Mile sign ended up being our second photo stop of the day. At our stops I found dozens of date nails from the 30’s marking the ties as I walked to and from the train. It truly was a step back in time.
One mile east of Arrow Creek we stopped for a portrait of the train with the Station One Mile sign.
After one more photo stop between Arrow Creek and Denton we headed east into town for a quick stop at the restroom and the beginning of the eastern portion of our tour.
Central Montana has no end to scenery. Despite visiting the area for 6 straight years now I’ve never stopped west of the Hay Creek trestle near Geyser. Why? Who knows. It seems like a prefect location with the tracks nicely in the foreground and the Highwood mountiains and their foothills in the background. It could be I’ve not stopped here because there is no nice place to park. In this part of Montana that’s not an excuse though as there is plenty of room off the highway shoulders.
This time I did stop and I captured the Lost Local on its return to Great Falls passing below the Highwoods. In the morning when the local went south there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. As the day moved along the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Away went the snow. In fact by 1:30PM when I photographed this location the heat waves coming off the grass were quite strong. It is interesting how things can change so quickly during a Montana spring.
One last thing about the Lost Local. It has always fascinated met that more often than not it will have exclusively BN green locomotives. How do they do that? Someone in Great Falls must have some skill at getting just the right power.
May 21st was GorgeRail 2011. That translated into a whole weekend of Gorge railfanning activities for me! On Friday I headed out to enjoy fabulous sunny skies and lots of trains. Saturday I had plans for an early sunrise photo before the show and afterwards I expected to spend time with friends so I didn’t have plans then. Sunday I set aside as a make up day for the early sunrise photo followed by some time to get together and railfan with friends.
As you might expect with great plans something would go wrong. Unfortunately the trains and light didn’t cooperate perfectly for the planned sunrise photo. That’s life as a railfan I guess.
At this time of year the light should be rising over the ridge behind my right shoulder (in the image above) about 5:45am. I arrived around 6am on Saturday but the sun never did shine thanks to an incoming rain storm. To top it off I had to leave long before an eastbound train ever arrived. Sunday on several occasions the sun did break through just perfectly but wouldn’t you know it the train wasn’t there. I ended up with the image above which I like very much but would have been better with one of the sun breaks shining on the point where the train was.
I have something to work on for next time I guess.
Ahhh, it’s good to be back in Montana where there are plenty of wide open spaces. I’m currently in Stanford, MT which is located near the center of Montana and in the transition between the great plains and the Rocky mountains. This location provides plenty of photographic variety. One minute you can be out snapping photos in the grasslands the next you can get a photograph with towering mountains in the background. Perfect!
The first northbound of the day is the M-LAUSHM (Laurel – Shelby). Near the Grove elevator (Moccasin, MT) it’s pretty much wide open space.
Mountains. Near Geyser the Laurel Sub passes just south of the Highwood mountains and a couple of buttes including Square Butte shown here.
More to come….