Sunday, October 18, 2009

Layout Room Construction - September 13, 2009

If you don’t like it, hide it
The enclosure for the furnace and water heater is finally finished. The panels are locked into position at the top and bottom. These panels can be removed to service the equipment.

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On the layout, I installed shelf brackets on the Denton and Geraldine side of the layout. I also cut the baseboard for the bench work.

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North Montana Line Driving Tour

The North Montana Division of the Milwaukee Road
Excerpted from Helmut Wisinger's Website

The Montana Lines North of Harlowton produced a large agricultural base for the Milwaukee Road. Actually more revenue loads originated here than anywhere else on "Lines West".

Leaving from Harlowton North on Hwy 191, the GN tracks cross the highway just South of Judith Gap. Just North of Judith Gap you can see where the GN crossed over the Milwaukee Road. Next, just a half mile off the highway is Straw. Here you can still see two elevators and stock yards and chutes, long out of commission.

Next is Sipple with a lone small elevator giving us its location. The Great Northern built a 2 mile connector track from their Laurel to Great Falls line to connect with the Milwaukee Road trackage and now serves the communities from Sipple into Lewistown. Moore is one of the main stations, nothing is left at Moore to indicate its Milwaukee Road heritage but there are a number of elevators and feed mills at this location.

After descending into the valley the line arrives at Lewistown. A number of buildings from Milwaukee Road days can be found here including the original depot, now a feed mill, the later brick depot, now the "Yogo Inn", the original freight house, now used by BNSF as their HQ for Maintenance of Way services between Laurel and Great Falls. Also east of town were the yards were located you can find part of the roundhouse and what I believe to be the ice house.

At Lewistown the tracks split to go West, North and East. Just West of Lewistown was the Roy-Winnifred Junction. At one time, Lewistown along with Great Falls was going to be along the second Main Line through Montana.

The line was built East to Heath, Grassrange and on to Winnett where it was supposed to carry on further East. This of course never occurred.

Just West of Lewistown was the Roy-Winnifred Junction, where the tracks went North, which again branched at Roy Junction to go East to Roy and North to Winifred. Check out the sign a local made at the elevators in Suffolk.

Originally the track West from Lewistown went to Danvers, Denton, Square Butte, Geraldine, Great Falls, then on to Choteau and Agawam. The trackage West of Lewistown is now owned by the Central Montana Railroad (CMR), but as it is isolated because the Spring Creek Trestle is unusable, BNSF switches the few industries located along this line just west of town. As an aside, the original GN station is now an Exxon gas service bar.

About 7 Miles West of Lewistown, just West of Hanover is the Spring Creek Trestle, and just West of the trestle is Spring Creek Jct, which was the beginning of gauntlet track when it was shared by Milwaukee Road and Great Northern from the point into Lewistown. CMR built a large wye here at Kingston on GN trackage to connect with their track from Moccasin, originally BN, to reconnect with the Milwaukee Road trackage as far as Geraldine. Kingston is also where the Charlie Russell Chew Choo originates from. There are 3 large trestles and a small tunnel between Kingston and Denton, which is why this dinner train is popular as a tourist attraction.

The first trestle is the Judith River Viaduct, followed shortly by the Indian Creek Viaduct, then through the small (very) town of Danvers, on to the Sage Creek Viaduct and a short tunnel , the last two being quite difficult to access.

Denton is the Headquarters for the CMR. There is a sizeable shop along with their HQ here. CMR has 6 GP-9s, all ex GN heritage, 1 caboose, 5 ballast cars and this railroad, unlike other short lines of its size does all its own track maintenance. They even have a Mark 3 Liner. They operate between Moccasin, their connection with BNSF and as far as end of track at Geraldine. Major commodity is grain, most of it from Geraldine. They have recently installed 30000 ties and are planning to put in more next year, especially in the Arrow Creek Loop where considerable difficulties with track have been experienced due to shifting terrain. There is even talk of putting in CWR on the trestles in order to handle the large bulk grain cars with their higher gross weight. All in all, a very forward looking railroad and management. They are also very accommodating to motor car enthusiast groups and have hosted a number of these. To us as Milwaukee Road fans, the trackage between Spring Creek Junction and Geraldine is all ex Milwaukee Road. There is no talk of rehabilitating the Spring Creek Trestle itself as that would prove too costly and would do little to improve the bottom line.

Geraldine boasts a restored Milwaukee Road Depot. Looks real good. This is also the end of track. The elevator which partially burned down in 2001 has been rebuilt and service will continue to Geraldine with CMR.

From here on the right of way becomes quite inaccessible, through Montague and Shonkia. The right of way can be picked up again briefly at Highwood, then on to Waltham and then through the very scenic, but inaccessible Red Coulee/Belt Creek area and on to Great Falls.

Great Falls has the beautiful, almost majestic depot still standing, fully restored and used by various private enterprises. They were thoughtful enough to leave the original diamond sign in place on the tower. Also the bridge across the Missouri is being redone as a hike-bike trail by private funding.
From Great Falls The track turned northwest and after passing through Manchester, Fairfield, and Choteau terminated at Agawam. There was a bit of joint trackage just outside of Great Falls, and the tracks of the GN and Milw Rd paralleled each other for some distance south of Choteau.


Please visit Helmut's wonderful "Lines West" Homepage here

Family Fun - August 2009

Again, Why I don’t do construction for a living
The month of August was spent working on kitchen and bath remodel for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. My wife's brothers came in and the majority of the remodel was completed in 8 days. My wife and I then spent additional weekends doing the finish work.

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Layout Construction - July 28, 2009

More progress
At this point I have added some additional benchwork to finish the approach to the bridge and tunnel. I have also added 1" thick pink foam for the track foundation.

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Real Railroads - July 6, 2009

Rail fanning in Wendover 
We decided to take a few days off and drive to Wendover, Nevada for some rest and gambling fun. While there, we drove down to the small yard on the old Western Pacific line. We found this interesting creature. It appears to be a scale car that is used to test scales for weighing freight cars.

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