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West portal of GN Ry's Cascade Tunnel.

The Fine Art of Motorcycle Touring


A Motorcycle Story

by C. C. Crow
photos by author

Subject: Paradise and Beyond
Date: 7/31/00 10:45:36 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Killerkrow
To: rooti@square.nut

Continuing with Part One, I had made it across northern Washington and the Idaho panhandle, into western Montana following the old Northern Pacific Railway now operated by the Montana Rail Link.

Clarkfork River in western Montana.

Clark Fork River in western Montana

Then I followed the Clark Fork eastward. This is a fantastic scenic route parelleling I-90 one mountain range to the south.

Train tracks disappearing into the distance.

There should be a train any minute.

An old NP semiphore in western Montana.

An NP semiphore operating in western Montana

An old NP semiphore in western Montana.

The base of the semiphore

An old NP semiphore in western Montana.

The semiphores are about to be replace!

A Northern Pacific stone culvert.

I always wanted a picture of one of these

On through Paradise, Montana where the NP line splits.

Paradise, Montana NP depot, brick structure with blue trim. 640 x 375

Paradise, Montana, Northern Pacific depot

Paradise, Montana NP depot, bay window. 640 x 442

Down Evaro Hill.

A Northern Pacific high bridge.

NP high steel trestle above Missoula

And into Missoula where I caught a glimpse of some dome cars but they were quicker than my camera.

Northern Pacific depot at Missoula, Montana.

The Northern Pacific depot at Missoula, Montana just at sunset

Northern Pacific depot at Missoula, Montana.

I'm thinking I can make a few more quick miles on I-90 before sunset but I screwed up and didn't get gas only to go on reserve just as I left town. What would I find in the next forty miles? Not much of nothing this way. At Clinton, I followed the signs for "gas" only to find that the Conico station had closed 15 minutes before the posted 9 p.m. closing time. Or did I miss the time zone change. Boy was I pissed. Rather than risk what might not lie ahead I turned back towards Missoula a dozen miles and gassed up at the big truckstop, the one you can't miss. By then it was getting dark and though I tried to find a spot along Rocky Creek (looked great for fishing!) it was impossible so I retreated to a pay campground. Nice enough spot and again I cowboy camped under the stars. The till had been closed for the night and wasn't yet opened when I left at 6 a.m. So it was free. The attendant told me not to worry about it.

Cowboy camping.

BN train on Montana Rail Link.

I chased this train at 60 mph over a very crappy side road
only to find out it was lead by BN green! Yuk!

At Garrison I found they were in the process of tearing down a perfectly good train depot.
What a shame. All the more reason to take photos of everything remotely railroad when you have the chance. As I was doing so, the excursion cars arrived on the tail and of a freight train. More photos.

Garrison yard. 640 x 316

Garrison yard. There used to be a signal tower here.

Garrison depot. 640 x 462

MRL engine 323 waiting at Garrison

Garrison depot being torn down

Garrison depot. 640 x 404
Garrison depot. 640 x 442
Garrison depot. 343 x 480

By now she's all gone

Almost to my destination in Helena I just couldn't resist the sign for Mullan Pass, a gravel road over the top. At Blossburg I explored the black faced tunnel portal and easily chased a slow freight climbing the hill.

Continental divide.

Blossburg, west enterance to Mullan Pass on the NP

Blossburg, west enterance to Mullan Pass on the NP.

Then up and over instead of following the gravel road I attempted in vane and great peril of burning out my clutch to find the roughest 4 x 4 route to the East portal. Before I stranded myself really out in the middle of nowhere ( what's that burning smell?) I accepted an exploration of Skyline trestle instead. I shot one too may photos on the approaching excision car special and missed "the perfect shot" of them crossing the tall trestle. Well, I tried. These will have to do.

NP steel trestle east of Mullan Pass.

NP's Skyline steel trestle east of Mullan Pass

Next section it's on to Helena and the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association's 2000 convention.

  Next Part - One C  




    F I N E   H Y D R O C A L   C A S T I N G S   B Y   C.   C.   C R O W    
  P.   O.   B O X   1 4 2 7         M U K I L T E O,     W A     9 8 2 7 5     U S A