Shelby, MT

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  • Member since
    May 2009
  • 798 posts
Shelby, MT
Posted by BNSFwatcher on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 6:50 AM

I live in an interesting 'train watching' city, Shelby, Montana (nee Shelby Junction).  Yes, Shelby (pop. 3,200) is a city, but...  We are on the BNSF "Hi-Line" (Montana Division) and get 40+ thru trains per day, when business is normal, and Amtrak's "Empire Builder" in daylight.  We have a decent yard (8-tracks, plus industries, including a 110+ car 'shuttle loader' loop track for grain trains, and a few industries.  A 24/7 switcher is on duty, called "The Oil Local" and it uses anything for power, including Dash 9-44CWs.  It even makes 25-mile forays to do its work.  From the south comes the Great Falls Subdivision, up from connections with MRL and BNSF in Laurel, MT.  Traffic varies, but there is a daily daylight 'Merchandise' train (#845) and sporadic grain trains, ribbon-rail trains, windmill trains, and coal trains.  We had a lot of detour traffic when MRL's Mullan Tunnel collapsed.  To the north is the Sweetgrass Subdivision.  It connects with the CPR at Sweetgrass, MT/Coutts, AB (35 miles north) and the daily #845 makes a turn there.  Traffic comes down from Lethbridge and Calgary, AB, and beyond.  100+-car trains are the norm.  Lots of petroleum products and anhydrous ammonia (a severe IH danger), plus CPR/UP detours, if the Kingsgate, BC line is closed.

Shelby has adequate motel facilities, if a BNSF 'steel gang' or windmill workers aren't hogging the rooms.  Dining is more like North Dakota, which ain't saying much, since our McDonalds went out of business.  There is a "Subway", but that's the only place I can recommend!  The bars are "smoke free", now, so I don't patronize them.  The liquor store is closed on Monday.  Best bet is buy some fixings at the grocery stores (wine and beer available) and eat in your room.  There also is a Pizza Hut, but I can't afford that...

Bring some "Cutter's".  We get the occasional mosquito in the summer.  Temps range from negative 40 to plus 110 degrees F..  Be prepared!  Flatlands to the east, mountains to the west!  Only eight zillion miles from San Diego, on I-15 (no traffic lights).


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