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:

Click the thumbnails below to see them in large format.


One response to “Milwaukee Road – Electric Substations Revisited

  1. Great pictures! I’m trying to inspire Absaroka Energy to undertake the preservation of the Loweth Substation as part of their 50 year Gordon Butte Hydroenergy Project. I think this icon from the past could be revived as the new symbol for this company reviving Montana.

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