Every year in the middle of July is when I plan my summer vacation. For 2007 I chose the MRL as my vacation spot. After a few months of planning I left Seattle 7-10-07 on a Horizon flight for Spokane where I picked up my rental car. It was sunny and clear as I left Spokane around 11:00 am for Missoula, MT. I went up north through Sandpoint and caught two westbound trains at Clark Fork, ID and chased them back to Kootenai where an eastbound coal empty was met. This would be the start to a very successful 5 days of photographing trains on the MRL.
The weather would be outstanding the entire time with temperatures up in the 90's nearing 100. Still with the sunshine and many trains I could live with a little hot weather. I photographed the MRL regional freights ML and LM on numerous days as well as the 840 local that ran between Helena and Logan with MRL SD's 315/304. I drove as far as Bozeman this trip but hope to get further east in the years to come. I explored many new locations and really enjoyed the area between Logan and Trident. Great scenery!
Of special interest to me are remnants of the Northern Pacific that can be found on the MRL which I consider to be kind of an active museum. Items like "Fouling Point" signs and "Flanger" warning signs at grade crossings installed by the NP can still be found in many locations in Idaho and Montana. All of these types of warning signs outside the MRL have been replaced with more modern signs by BN and BNSF. Another goal was to photograph the NP cantilever signal bridges at Townsend and Bozeman if they were still in place. They were and I got my photos.
There was a number of track work projects going on but there always seemed to be something to photograph. Early morning and late afternoons seemed to be busiest. Loaded and empty BNSF coal trains were very common and I photographed a number of them. But my favorite trains this trip had to be the H-KCKPAS on 7-10 with all the Boeing cars and the MRL #840 local around Townsend, MT.
A number of forest fires were burning in Montana but were not really noticeable until later in the trip with very hazy skies which I understand got worse in the days after I returned to Seattle. I considered the trip to be a success having photographed many new locations. I look forward to future trips to the MRL in Montana.
And now on to the Gallery....