Saturday, July 12th:
Today's trip is following the old Montana Central/GN rails to Great Falls. First
we load up the bus and head out:
Our bus captain today is Jack Dykstra from Whitefish who gives us a running
commentary on the bridges and scenes we will see.
The ex-GN line from Helena to Great Falls is still in place, but has been
"embargoed" (no trains) for the past 13 years, or so. The line is plainly
visible along the way:
Our first stop through Prickly Pear Canyon is at Tunnel 4 -- a very nice spot
where we can walk along the road and see the rock portal and bridge.
It is a short walk along the road to view the other portal of the tunnel. As can
be seen, the jointed rail roadbed appears to be in pretty good shape.
We load up and head off. Our bus driver roars past the Wolf Creek, MT depot at
Gotta make time... The road opens up out of the canyon and there are some great
views as we follow the line NE.
Our next stop is the engine facility at Great Falls. BNSF has kindly allowed us
on the property and staged a locomotive and ex-GN snow dozer for our inspection.
Here is BNSF 1963 riding the old gallows turntable at Great Falls.
Ex-GN 1710 snow dozer shares the honors with a jim-dandy front plow monster face
(complete with gold tooth).
Let's go inside the engine house and have a look around. Thank you, BNSF!!!!
The north side of the diesel shop still has the "Great Northern
Railway" emblazed on the side in white brick:
Next is our lunch stop, courtesy of the Montana Museum of Railroad History and
the Great Falls Model Railroad Club. They provide a very tasty sack lunch for
the 120+ folks on our tour.
Now lets have a look at their expansive layout. A nice assortment of GN
equipment is running.
Just outside is the BN caboose 12377 open for a tour.
After lunch and back on the bus, we do a roll by of the old Milwaukee Road
We roll by the Rainbow Falls bridge of the ex-GN Great Falls to Havre line.
Our next stop is the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. Is that a bitterroot
The last view before returning to Helena is a runby of the ex-GN depot in Great