Plow Monster

This Jordan Spreader is based out of the BNSF yard in Great Falls, Montana. This unit can be used to plow snow, spread ballast and maintain the ditch alongside the railway. A locomotive is used to push it down the track as it does its work.

With the painted on character, I would suspect this machine has a nickname! (Click on the image to see it larger.)

 

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And here is a video clip of a Jordan Spreader in action:

Canadian Pacific using a Jordan Spreader

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Spring Creek Junction

Hidden in the rolling hills of central Montana is a short line railroad known as Central Montana Rail (CMR). The 87 miles of track meanders through wheat fields and pasture-lands, and ventures along the edge of the Missouri River breaks. Traveling on former Milwaukee Road and Great Northern Railway tracks, there are several compelling trestle crossings along the route. One such crossing, but not the largest, is the trestle over Big Spring Creek. Named Spring Creek Junction, this is a point at which the MILW and GN tracks joined together to enter Lewistown, Montana.

The CMR connects with the BNSF rail at Mocassin, allowing local farmers an opportunity to move locally grown grains out of the region via rail. Additionally, the CMR also pulls the Lewistown Chamber of Commerce’s dinner train, the Charlie Russell Chew Choo. The 56-mile roundtrip offers a unique opportunity to experience a beautiful part of Montana in an extraordinary way.

(As always, click the images below to view them in larger format!)

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Great Northern at Great Falls

Arriving in Great Falls as the sun was setting last night only allowed a brief window to get some photos of the last presence of the old Great Northern Railway. Now owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), the Great Northern was once the main rail service across much of northern Montana. Fortunately BNSF hasn’t rebranded everything, so in some cases things look a little like they used to be.

(The photo above is the locomotive shop; click on any image below to view it in larger format.)

From the Locomotive Shop, looking across the Missouri River towards the GN Passenger Depot (clock tower on right)

From the Locomotive Shop, looking across the Missouri River towards the GN Passenger Depot (clock tower on right)

Supply storehouse on left and the paint shop on the right.

Supply storehouse on left and the paint shop on the right.

Passenger Depot of the Great Northern Railway, at Great Falls, MT

Passenger Depot of the Great Northern Railway, at Great Falls, MT

Milwaukee Road – Electric Substations Revisited

In the early 1900’s the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway decided to use electric trains to cross the mountains between Harlowton, Montana and Avery, Idaho. There were 14 identical electric substations built along this route to provide power to the engines. The electrified railroad ceased to run here in 1974 (diesel locomotive service continued for several more years). Only a few shells of the substations remain, but in some cases evidence remains to show where the others existed. Attached are some images of the “Summit” substation, which was the second of fourteen, and the foundation footprint of substation #1 at Two Dot, Montana.

*Edit 5/22/14 – A viewer criticized a few aspects of this post, and one of his comments begged to differ with my use of the term “identical” above.  Referencing the C,M&St.P’s own records, I based that statement on the following quote, “All substations are of the indoor type of brick fire-proof construction and consist of two rooms, one containing the 100,000-volt oil switches, lighting arresters, transformers, and similar high-tension apparatus, and the other containing the motor generators, low-tension switches, and 3,OOO-vol t and auxiliary switchboard. The construction of all substations, except as to size, is the same, except that in locations where the snowfall is unusually heavy, hip roof, instead of flat roof construction is used.” My interpretation of this is that they were all identical in function and purpose, and were very similar in construction design. I apologize for misleading anyone.

There are some nice images of the operating Avery substation in 1973 at this link: http://trainwatchersjournal.blogspot.com/2012/03/inside-milwaukee-road-avery-idaho.html

Click the thumbnails below to see them in large format.

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