Tom’s Montana Protest, Week 11: Let the chase begin

Posted by tdanneman
on Monday, December 12, 2011

Montana Rail Link's local to Harrison departs Logan, Montana.

I'll be sharing at least one photo of my trip every week until I head out to Montana once again. I guess I look at it like my way of holding a protest, or going on strike, until I get my way and I depart for Big Sky Country. Along the way, I will try to give everyone some information and other tidbits about each photograph. So come along and join me in my protest!
As we approached the grade crossing east of Logan to photograph the eastbound that I mentioned in my last blog, we noticed that a friend of ours, who is a retired Engineer for MRL, was set up waiting for the train. We figured that was a good sign that the train to Harrison was indeed running. After shooting the eastbound, we headed back to the yard at Logan to wait. At that time, we noticed other people milling about near the yard. Most of the vehicles had the telltale scanner antenna and the occupants were toting cameras. It looked as though the run to Harrison was a big enough event that it even brings out the native MRL shooters. It was fun to meet and catch up with them as we waited for the local to depart.
We also noticed activity in and around the two GP35s that would power the train to Harrison. We were told that they would do some switching in the yard before heading down the 5th Subdivision branch line to Sappington, where the branch to Harrison splits off. We knew that the elevator at Harrison had some cars to return, but what we didn't know was if they had any cars to bring with them to the elevator. Of course, we were hoping that they had something to take. Photographing light engines is not the most exciting thing to do, but on this line, we should be grateful to get anything at all. We also knew that the return trip would have cars, so we weren't too worried.
The MRL crew finished up the work in the yard, so it was time to go. We noticed that they did have a train, albeit only one plain-Jane MRL grain car, but we were happy to take it!
Before we even left for this vacation, my brother and I planned our strategy for shooting the Harrison Branch. At the time, we gave some thought to hiking into a spectacular little canyon just south of Sappington. It was quite a hike, so it would probably be a one-and-done shot, or maybe two if we stayed for the return trip. But we decided to chase and get as many shots of it as we could. Like I mentioned in the last blog, we didn't know how many chances we'd get to follow this branch, so we wanted to document as much as possible. Not only that, but with the friendly local MRL fans chasing, we knew we could find some spots by picking their brains in advance. Thanks, guys!
The local was departing Logan, so we set up for our first photograph on a rock outcropping on the west side of town. This shot shows the local just getting on the 5th Subdivision, with the 2nd Subdivision main line to Helena crossing the Gallatin River in the background. Montana Rail Link's 5th Subdivision was formerly Northern Pacific's, and later Burlington Northern's, passenger main line to Butte and beyond. This route hosted NP's North Coast Limited, its flagship passenger train, while the line to Helena (MRL's 2nd Subdivision) hosted the Mainstreeter.
Stay tuned for more of the chase of MRL's Harrison Local.
Montana tidbit that may only interest me: Before being named Logan in 1889, the former stage station was named Cannon House.


Tom's Montana Protest Facebook Gallery


Tom's Montana Protest Flickr Set

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