central montana

It Ends With A Caboose

by Steve Eshom on July 11, 2013

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series CMR Photo Freight 2013

The last bit of my Central Montan Railway excursion included a quick visit to Ware, the current end of the CMR.  It won’t be the end of the line too much longer because sometime before winter Carla anticipates having the Judith River trestle repaired.  That means the CMR’s connection to BNSF will be restored and traffic can once again flow over the entire line.  Good news for the CMR for certain.

12 MPHMoving in reverse from Danvers to Ware at 12 MPH.

Our excursion crossed one of the other impressive steel trestles at Indian Creek and we stopped for another photo session.  Afternoon clouds had rolled in so we had to wait a bit for the sun to come back out before the photo shoot was complete.  No matter we had more important subjects to discuss and a few other photos to take while we waited.  This group of riders was a pleasure to be around so hanging out together for a bit was no issue.

Old Ranch HouseAn abandoned ranch house sits on the hill above Indian Creek while our train rests on the trestle waiting for the sunlight to return.

One of my favorite images from the trip was pointed out to me by Paul Birkholz.  He yelled across the cab at me and said to come over and look at the silhouette of our train on the canyon floor.  Beautiful!  I took several images as the train rolled slowly over the trestle at 10mph.  What an amazing afternoon scene!

Train Over Indian CreekElevated over Indian Creek.

As the title of this post indicates, it ends with a caboose.  After an enjoyable dinner in Denton a group of us trudged back over to the CMR shops and photographed our caboose as the sun dropped behind the clouds.  Jay set some lights into the rear markers and proceeded to illuminate the grain elevator with his light.   After a couple of tries we all had the shots we wanted.

It Ends With A CaboosMy excursion on the CMR ended with this photo of the CMR 100 caboose.

I packed up my gear and made the 30 minute trek back to Stanford.  On the way I reflected on the day.  I was tired but fully satisfied with the photos I’d taken and the experience I’d had.  The railfans on this trip were fabulous and so enjoyable to be around which made the whole thing that much better.

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Sage Creek

by Steve Eshom on July 2, 2013

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series CMR Photo Freight 2013

As railfans know there are a few iconic locations where rail lines, scenery, and structures converge into unprecedented scenes.  For the Central Montana this iconic location falls beween the Hoosac tunnel and the Danvers elevators.  It is a bit of a remote spot where nothing more than a few rattlesnakes and cattle live.  Its name is Sage Creek.  The highlights of this location are of course the 1700′ long Sage Creek trestle and the nearly two mile long sweeping S curve on either side.  Add in Montana’s “Big Sky” and this spot unbeatable.

Arriving Sage Creek

 

The eastbound excursion train descends the 1% grade from Hoosac tunnel towards Sage Creek.

On the south side of Sage Creek mother nature built a viewing platform to end all platforms.  The hills which define the canyon are covered only in grass and are easy to negotiate for an ideal photographic position.  No matter what your taste I think you can find a spot on that hill which will make you smile.  For our excursion Jay and Carla worked together to put the train in various spots so everyone could have that perfect photo.

Sage Creek

Our excursion train parks in the middle of one of the beautiful railroad scenes in Montana.

On the return to Denton we stopped on the north side of the trestle for another photo shoot.  This time we set up much closer to the trestle which gives you the idea just how big it really is.

Sage Creek

Our excursion train is dwarfed by the massive Sage Creek trestle.

With a scene as giant as the S curve and trestle at Sage Creek I think  a 110 car grain train would be much more appropriate for an excursion.

 

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An Old Ford and a Couple of Chevys

by Steve Eshom on June 27, 2013

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series CMR Photo Freight 2013

East of Denton we first stopped at a hill that provides a great view of a curve with Square Butte in the background.  This ended up being one spot where a much longer train would be just ideal.  Don’t get me wrong, having any train at this spot in 2013 makes it special so I cherished seeing our little excursion train round the bend and come into view.

Square Butte CurveEast of Denton, MT our little excursion train rounds a curve with the famous Square Butte looking over the scene.

Our next stop was a rural grade crossing near the community of Hoosac.  Here Jay and Carla arranged for a local gentleman to bring his 40′s era Ford pick up in for a photo shoot with the train.  The first set up was staged for Camron’s video.  The pickup drove slowly down the road while the train approached the crossing just ahead of it.  After that we parked the pickup around the crossing for us still photographers to get a few photos.  The old Ford looked great and worked well with our ’50s era Chevys.

A Ford and a Couple of Chevys

A Ford and a Couple of Chevy’s near Hoosac, MT. 

Most railfans have heard of the Hoosac tunnel and most probably think it is in Massachusetts.  Central Montana railfans recognize Hoosac tunnel is actually located in Montana.  After our photo shoot with the Ford we continued east and passed through the Montana version of the tunnel.  On the east end we stopped for another photo shoot of with the train exiting the tunnel.

East Hoosac

From the cupola of the CMR caboose the Sage Creek valley comes into view framed by the Hoosac tunnel.

Exiting Hoosac

Thanks to the recent rains all the hills around the Hoosac tunnel are very green.

Next up, the unparalleled vistas of Sage Creek.

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Denton Nights

by Steve Eshom on June 18, 2013

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series CMR Photo Freight 2013

On June 1st I was privileged to ride a chartered photo freight on the Central Montana Railroad.  Twenty of us chartered an 8 car train, 2 locomotives, a caboose, and two fabulous CMR employees.  In turn the CMR ran us to various photo locations between Arrow Creek and Ware where we photographed the train and worked with the crew perform run bys.   What a deal eh?  There is nothing like having your own personal train and crew to set up great photos.  Sound like fun?  You bet it was!

Denton Nights

CMR 1824 leads a freight train through downtown Denton, MT passed Central Montana Rail Inc’s. shops.

Friday night as the heavy rains cleared Jeff Robertson and many of the riders set up for a night photo session in Denton, MT.  Carla, the general manager and engineer, was kind enough to spot not only our train in front of the the elevators in town but pull a few of the locomotives out of the shop to anchor the scene.  This of course was one of the first of many wonderful things Carla helped us with on the excursion day.

Other than a bit of the usual Central Montana wind the night photo shoot turned out wonderful.  Jeff did a great job with the lighting and making sure everyone had a chance to do their own exposure and composition.  After I made my request I moved around to various locations while everyone else set up their shots.  By 11:45pm I was tired and headed back to Stanford for the night.

Next up: Riding the photo freight!

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Big Mountains, Little Train

by Steve Eshom on April 18, 2012

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Montana April 2012

Central Montana has no end to scenery.  Despite visiting the area for 6 straight years now I’ve never stopped west of the Hay Creek trestle near Geyser.  Why?  Who knows.  It seems like a prefect location with the tracks nicely in the foreground and the Highwood mountiains and their foothills in the background.  It could be I’ve not stopped here because there is no nice place to park.  In this part of Montana that’s not an excuse though as there is plenty of room off the highway shoulders.

This time I did stop and I captured the Lost Local on its return to Great Falls passing below the Highwoods.  In the morning when the local went south there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground.  As the day moved along the clouds cleared and the sun came out.  Away went the snow. In fact by 1:30PM when I photographed this location the heat waves coming off the grass were quite strong.  It is interesting how things can change so quickly during a Montana spring.

One last thing about the Lost Local.  It has always fascinated met that more often than not it will have exclusively BN green locomotives.  How do they do that?  Someone in Great Falls must have some skill at getting just the right power.

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