When two trains met on the single track Milwaukee mainline one train would have to “go in the hole”. One train moved onto a side track or siding, letting the other train pass by.
Timing a “meet” was extremely . . . — — Map (db m45635) HM
Bitterroot winters are frigid and long-lasting, with the snow staying on the ridges and packed into the draws and gullies well into the spring.
Roland and East Portal can receive up to a foot of snow an hour during a big storm. The snowpack . . . — — Map (db m45561) HM
“Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli
At the beginning of the 20th century, majestic western white pine, western larch and western red cedar, some over 400 years old, along with Douglas-fir and . . . — — Map (db m45563) HM
Turntable & Townsite
Roland, Idaho s started as a construction camp in 1906, housing men working on the west portion of the St. Paul Pass Tunnel. It evolved from a tent camp scattered along . . . — — Map (db m45556) HM
Wood to Steel
The Milwaukee Road built temporary wood trestles at all but Kelly Creek and Clear Creek. Fire danger prompted the railroad to immediately begin replacing the wooden structures with earth-filled embankments or building steel . . . — — Map (db m45614) HM
In 1925, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company suffered the largest business failure in the history of the United States up to that time.
The bankruptcy resulted from a combination of problems related to the construction of . . . — — Map (db m45650) HM
A logging railroad known as Bogle Spur snaked from here up the North Fork of the St. Joe River for seven miles. The spur was built to salvage timber killed during the 1910 fires. The little railroad operated from 1912 to 1915. When the logging . . . — — Map (db m45654) HM
When Water Powered the Road
It made a great deal of sense to the Milwaukee Road’s directors to electrify portions of the mainline when building the western extension.
They could reduce the high cost of oil-fired, steam powered . . . — — Map (db m45624) HM
“Fire in the Hole!”
In 1908, a Milwaukee contractor named Johnson needed to blast out a path through the rock face next to the Barnes Creek Trestle, #218. Blasters chiseled out five “coyote holes”, stuffed them . . . — — Map (db m45629) HM
For the price of a Pullman ticket, a common rail passenger could be waited upon and pampered in the grand manner of privileged gentry.
The Pullman porter provided the labor for that luxury…
After the Civil War, the Pullman Palace . . . — — Map (db m45648) HM
(Little Joes, The Locomotives Big Joe Stalin Never Got!)
Made for Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, the United States embargoed these magnificent locomotives as strategic material at the start of the “Cold . . . — — Map (db m45633) HM
If you stood on this spot with a railroad surveyor in 1906, you would have gazed across a lush patchwork forest of large trees. The super hot 1910 fires burned the valley below and for years afterward the area presented travelers with a bleak view . . . — — Map (db m45567) HM
It took a lot of mechanical muscle to pull the Milwaukee Road’s long, heavy passenger and freight trains over the rugged Rocky Mountains and tough Bitterroot Range. The Milwaukee Road used a great variety of powerful locomotives to do the . . . — — Map (db m45625) HM
Depending on who you talk to, the hills around you contain either rich copper deposits or a lot of hot air....
Between 1889 and 1922, miners explored a number of promising mining properties near Adair. They encountered ore containing . . . — — Map (db m45622) HM
It's nature’s “fault” this tunnel is closed…
Several major geologic fault lines run under these mountains. The mountainside here is slowly shifting along a fault line into the right side of this tunnel, collapsing it. . . . — — Map (db m45613) HM
The Lucky Swede and Pearson Mining Companies used this siding to bring in mining equipment and hopefully, send out copper ore…
According to old-timer Harold Theriault,
“The lucky Swede Mine was a fairly large company, but . . . — — Map (db m45656) HM
Driving across the country today, fueling up at fast food outlets, it is hard to imagine that travel was once much more luxurious. The Milwaukee Road's Olympian and Columbian passenger trains carried elegant dining cars the entire distance from . . . — — Map (db m45632) HM
The Milwaukee Road transported tons of war material and thousands of troops during World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
During World War I, the Federal Government seized railroads in the United States including the . . . — — Map (db m45641) HM
Primitive construction camps dotted the Bitterroot Mountains between 1906 and 1912.
Hardy colorful gangs of workers from around the globe called these bleak and often ugly temporary settlements home.
The hard work and disagreeable . . . — — Map (db m45553) HM
High steel trestles, long curved tunnels and steep rocky embankments could be accidents waiting to happen…
But diligent, hard-working Milwaukee Roaders saw that relatively few wrecks shattered the quiet beauty of the Bitterroots. . . . — — Map (db m45649) HM
You are standing on what was Falcon, Idaho, a lonely but important Milwaukee Road siding named for the raptors that nested in the area. Train passengers gave the place scant notice, but by 1915, a depot, a section house and several other . . . — — Map (db m45634) HM
Patrolling for problems on the track was the job of the section foreman and his “section gang” of 2 to 7 hardy laborers.
In the early 1900s the Milwaukee Road’s mainline was divided into 5.5 to 9.5 mile-long sections. A . . . — — Map (db m45610) HM
Grief could come to a big, fast train suddenly. Railroaders needed to see and hear warnings and orders clearly and quickly.
The engineer and crew watched for standard signals over each section of track and kept their eyes and ears open . . . — — Map (db m45623) HM
“Highballing” fast freight trains..
…known as “Silks”, sped raw Asian silk from west coast seaports across the United States for processing into finished garments.
The silks had the right-of-way over freight . . . — — Map (db m45640) HM
Get the Line Open Quickly!
That was the policy of the Milwaukee Road. To do this in 1907 and 1908, the Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railroad built numerous sturdy, but short-lived, wood trestles to prepare the new line for track as . . . — — Map (db m45579) HM
One of the largest forest fires in the history of the United States
...swept over Idaho and Montana on August 20 and 21, 1910, including the area where you now stand. The fire burned three million acres, destroyed eight billion . . . — — Map (db m45615) HM
The forest fires of August, 1910, burned millions of acres in Idaho, Montana and Washington. On the night of August 20, engineer Johnnie Mackedon, returning from a trip to St. Paul Pass, found the Falcon siding on fire. Over one hundred terrified . . . — — Map (db m45617) HM
Time Runs Out for “America s Resourceful Railroad”
Never-ending financial problems, speedy new interstate highways and jets killed Milwaukee's passenger service to the Pacific Coast by 1961. Stiff freight competition and . . . — — Map (db m45651) HM
The Unknown Locomotive
Called the “unkown” locomotive by some rail enthusiasts, few people now recognize the heavyweight of the Milwaukee’s Rocky Mountain Division, the Baldwin-Westinghouse EP-3.
Between 1919 and . . . — — Map (db m45630) HM
On June 29, 1947 the pride of the Milwaukee Road was introduced-- an all new streamlined train called the “Olympian Hiawatha”.
The name “Hiawatha” originated with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Song of . . . — — Map (db m45631) HM
Looking for the Right Route
In 1905, the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway began looking for a route for their western extension over the Bitterroot Mountains. After five and a half months, exploring 930 miles, the railroad chose a route . . . — — Map (db m45559) HM
The Last Transcontinental Railroad
“It was the finest railroad in America.”
Those were the words of many former employees of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific (Milwaukee Road). This trail follows the route of . . . — — Map (db m45652) HM
People used to say “Taft, Montana was the toughest town in the west until Grand Forks, Idaho developed.”
Located across the valley at the mouth of Cliff Creek, a Forest Service employee described it as,
“…a wild . . . — — Map (db m45636) HM
An astonishing contraption called “The Traveler”, a giant rolling crane, erected Kelly and Clear Creek Trestles in record time.
The Milwaukee decided to build Kelly and Clear Creek Trestles out of steel right From the . . . — — Map (db m45618) HM
During the 1910 fires, fire fighters hopping off a train here at two in the morning wondered, “why anyone bothered to give this spot a name.”
In fact, Adair started out several years earlier as a boisterous railroad . . . — — Map (db m45620) HM
Snaking its railroad down the western side of the Bitterroot Mountains, the Milwaukee Road burrowed 16 tunnels to maintain a uniform grade down to Avery.
These tunnels were dug largely by hand using sledgehammers and hand drills. In some cases . . . — — Map (db m45608) HM
A powerful man-made jet of water blasted the mountainside…
…washing soil and loose rock downslope to fill in the trestle.
By 1911, the Milwaukee Road filled twenty-two temporary wooden trestles between St. Regis, Montana and Avery, . . . — — Map (db m45568) HM
Who’s Been Working On The Railroad?
If you stood here sometime between 1907 and 1911, you would have heard a multitude of languages.
The hundreds of people employed during the construction of the Milwaukee Road included; . . . — — Map (db m45637) HM
Do you have the right stuff to be a FOREST RANGER?!
Forest Service District Rangers today are resource professionals. She/he could be a forester, fish or wildlife biologist, hydrologist, botanist, landscape architect or other . . . — — Map (db m45643) HM