We left the Gallatin Gateway Inn and drove back up to I-90. Exiting at Whitehall, we headed up MT 2 towards Pipestone Pass. Noticing the old railroad grade to our left, we took a side road and turned onto the grade. Following the grade for a few miles, we came to the Pipestone Pass tunnel. This one is 2,290 feet with big cuts and fills on both ends. Unfortunately, the tunnel is barricaded.
Back to the highway, over the Continental Divide, and back to the railroad grade (it was a lot muddier on this side). Heading west again, eventually the grade was blocked again. Proceeding on foot, we came to the Blacktail Viaduct. What a find! A 590 foot steel trestle abandoned right here in the middle of the woods. We noticed a road going under the bridge, so once again back to the highway. We found the side road and eventually, the bridge. All in all, quite a find!
Although we bypassed Butte in favor of more significant railroad sites, we did notice the HUGE copper mine above town - it is quite a sight. Past Butte, we came to Deer Lodge. At the Territorial Prison Museum, they have a 'Little Joe' electric locomotive on display. The Milwaukee road was electrified in Montana west of Harlowton - the only western railroad to have such a huge electric division. The so-called 'Little Joes' were built by GE for the Soviet Union. The Soviets ended up not buying them, so the Milwaukee Road picked them up. They are some of the most powerful locomotives in the world (~8000 hp).
We found a couple of other sites of interest along I-90 west of Deer Lodge. Gold Creek and Ravenna each were the site of an electrical substation. The transformed the 100,000 volt AC current into 3,000 volt DC for the locomotives. Only the brick buildings remain. At Garrison and a few other places west of Deer Lodge, there are Milwaukee Road tunnels right next to the Burlington Northern tunnels (still being used). At Beavertail Hill, there is an automobile road through the Milwaukee Road tunnel right next to the BN's active tunnel.
We are staying at a very nice state recreation area campground
at Beavertail Hill. As I type this, I am listening to the rushing of the
Clark Fork river, which is at an extremely high level.
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