View Full Version : Mullan and Marias in 4 days!

09-29-2006, 02:59 AM
July 2006
It all started with a trip to Washington State University (go Cougs!) in Pullman, Washington. There, I had to go to a 3-day orientation session to get ready for and sign up for college. It had been a blistering 105F for a week. Our leg of the trip was going to be Salt Lake City, Reno, Keddie, Kalamath Falls, etc. But because it was 110F along that entire stretch, we decided to head east to Montana where it was in the mid 90ís. But not before seeing the once-weekly train that comes into Pullman on Mondays.
From there, me and pa charged east. Over Lolo Pass (camped there for the night) and down into Missoula. I can say only one thing about that place: the train yard is huge. Itís easily 2 miles long and full of trains constantly moving. Itís electric, minus the electrics (there is evidence of electrification east of town). No RP worthy pics from there, but itís a great place to visit!

We only stayed in Missoula a few minutes before we saw an east-bound train leave the yard. On the lead, SD45 #327 and off we went! The train made about 60mph average the entire way, and we paralleled it on I90. Talk about some pissed drivers :grin: Middle of Montana, locals asking themselves "why the heck is that guy in his Volvo going 60 on the freeway?!" No good pics, only got speed shots w/ power lines in the way. But it was certainly fun to be next to a train for 75 miles. The engineer looked like he had an amusing time as well.

After following the SD45 and its load to the base of Mullan, we heard over the scanner that another train was right behind it, so me and pa stopped for food and then moved up the dirt road to the summit. By this time, it was around 4pm, so the light was terrible for any east-bound trains, so we just sat back and enjoyed the scenery and the mild temperatures at the 5548' pass. A few west bounds roll by. I come 800 miles and what do I get to see? &%@#$ BNSF C44-9W's... Oh well. At least itís somewhere differentÖ

Then out of nowhere, comes two sets of light east-bound power moves. Here is the first set.
And along comes the 2nd set. The cool part is this guy got a green signal, and moved right in front of where I was standing and stopped for a couple of minutes (nothing over the scanner, he just stopped so I can get a look), then rolled down the pass.
We came back the next day and lo and behold, the pass was closed for MOW work. But we went over the pass and chased a nice, clean Dash-8 from the base of the west side to Missoula. Thatís would be all the train action for my birthday and Mullan Pass! Now time to head north!

Marias Pass, discovered by John F. Stevens, was another major part in James J. Hills Great Northern Empire. The low 5215í pass hugs the southern border of Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Having railfanned both Stevens and Marias pass, Iíve photographed both summits discovered by John Stevens. Oddly, there is a statue of Stevens at the summit of Marias Pass but Stevens Pass in Washington is named after him. Anyways, onto the trains!

We arrive at the campground at the summit of the pass and the trains were already flowing. The bugs were also swarming. Here are my first two pictures from that night.

The next day I got up bright and early to chase Happytraks Empire Builder on its travels east. Living in Seattle, I have never photographed the Builder in good light, as the train is always traveling against good lighting, but for ONCE I will win, and I do believe I did.
At the exact perfect moment of the pic above, I got bit hard in the leg by a bug and nearly fell over, losing the shot. But I was strong, got the shot and crushed the bug.
Above is my fav pic from the entire trip

After that, me and pa went to East Glacier lodge because the line would be closed for a few hours because of MORE MOW work. I struck gold with this shot of an empty grainer.

The west-bound Builder was the next train to come through after the closure ended

And time for sleep! Or at least no day pictures of trains...

July 29th, time to head down the pass and into Glacier National Park for a few days, but not before catching a train at the famous Issak Walton Inn in Essex Montana.

July 30th, got outside the park and did a little photography when the line was yet again closed for MOW.
But once the MoW window closed, the sparks flew

The trains of Marias have come to a close, as its time to spend a couple of days hiking in beautiful Glacier National Park. As soon as we were done there, it was time to head west towards home in Edmonds, WA. But not before some pictures taken from a park along side Lake Pend Oreille.

I took a total of 905 pictures, or 2.95GB.

I will say one thing, me and Marias do not get along together as well as me and Stevens. EVERY time I've been to Marias, it has been closed for a good portion of time because of MoW stuff. But this trip made up for my last trip to Marias. And that was my 4-day trip to Mullan and Marias Pass in ďBig Sky CountryĒ

09-29-2006, 12:50 PM
Great report Mike.you really catch agreat shots and alot of good stuff.Keep up the great work and keep your nice shots coming.

09-29-2006, 01:48 PM
Nice work. Thanks for the report.

09-29-2006, 09:21 PM
Great shots Mike! I absoluetly LOVE Montana!!! :grin:

09-30-2006, 06:26 PM
Great shots man! Need some more MRL SD45s on there though! Hahaha, looks like you had a blast!


09-30-2006, 10:43 PM
Great pictures! Awesome!!!