Idaho / Montana Shortlines?

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  • Member since
    August 2013
  • 4 posts
Idaho / Montana Shortlines?
Posted by Carsten Frank on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 6:48 AM


beginning from the end of next week I will visit the Norhwest for 2 weeks. In addition to the normal tourist program (Yellowstone, ...) I am very interested in visiting the local short lines.

One point with which I would like to start is the Washington & Idaho RR with their F-Unit. Does anyone know the approximate schedule?
Also, the St. Maries River RR seems to be very interesting. I read on their website that the Plummer turn runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Maybe someone has the approximate departure time from St. Maries?
What other short lines and other interesting railwas spots between Seattle and Yellowstone NP would you recommend me?

A few days ago I have ordered the Trains Railway-Maps - I hope they reach me before my departure from germany :-)

am looking forward to a great holiday in your wonderful country and would be glad to get your information.
Greetings from Germany 


  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: South Dakota
  • 1,592 posts
Posted by Dakguy201 on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 7:14 AM

First, welcome to the States.  We hope you have a good time.

If you are planning on seeing several of western short lines, the implication is that you are planning much of your trip by automobile.  I'd caution you that some Europeans simply don't comprehend how vast the American west is and the resulting time involved in driving from place to place.  The use of an online mapping service, such as Mapquest, will not only show you the route between two places, but give you the mileage and estimated time required to make the trip.

  • Member since
    August 2013
  • 4 posts
Posted by Carsten Frank on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 7:45 AM

Thank you!

I maybe have to say that it's not my very first visit in America. 

2011 I drove from Whitehorse through the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver by RV. 

2012, first I was on a business trip in Saskatchewan (the epitome of wide open country ...). After that I chased a few days the Ontarion Northland (and took the last chance zu ride from Toronto to Moosonee and back by train).

And last January, I flew to Denver to chase the long coal trains in Wyoming and Utah rail over Solder Summit during wonderful winter weather.

So I will not be surprised over long distances and long travel times :-)


  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 6,368 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, August 15, 2013 9:29 PM

Livingston, MT, north of Yellowstone NP is on the current Montana Rail Link, but was a busier place in Northern Pacific steam days, where locos that pulled their trains across the plains, might be changed for locos more suitable for the mountain grades that begin there.  It has an old larger station befitting its importance.

Butte, MT is an old copper mining town, and it has the shortline Butte, Anaconda & Pacific:

The St. Maries River RR used to be part of the CMStP&P, a.k.a. the Milwaukee Road.  the old grade continued east of there and over the mountains into Montana.  If you are into biking there is a bike trail on the old grade, where you start at the summit tunnel, ride downhill for 15 miles and you can take a shuttle back.

US Route 2 generally follows the BNSF (former Great Northern) across western Washington.  On the west side of Stevens Pass the road comes close to the west portal of the Cascade Tunnel, the longest tunnel in the US at 8 miles.

If you are in the Mt. Rainier area south of Seattle, the Mt Rainier Scenic RR has steam train rides with lots of geared steam engines.

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