Bear Creek Canyon, Montana [May 2002]

We begin the day by chasing the Empire Builder eastbound over Marias Pass. At Summit, the Builder passes beneath Little Dog Mountain, and heavy clouds which dumped nearly a foot of snow in Essex the previous night.
Just east of the summit, the Builder begins its long, winding descent into the Williston Basin.
The Empire Builder rolls into Glacier Park Station, much as it has for the past 75 years. Later, I wound up talking to the Amtrak agent, who as it turns out was at one time a train order operator for the Great Northern. She's kept the operator's position equipped much as it was 40 years ago.
Just west of East Glacier Park station, this trestle crossing over Midvale Creek doesn't seem to get as much attention as Two Medicine Bridge on the other end of town. It does, however, offer some great opportunities, such as this eastbound empty grain extra, led by a pair of ex-BN units.
Looking great in their Grinstein Green paint, a set of BN SD70MACs lead a loaded coal train into Marias Pass.
On the end of the coal train, a pair of H1 SD40-2 helpers, based out of Essex, are working hard shoving the heavy train up the hill. Given the chance to shoot this rare, heavy train battling the hill, I decided to bug out and chase the train westbound to the summit.
Near MP 1144, the lead units appear to be coasting along.
However, the roar as the units pass by indicates otherwise.
Heavy trains aren't supposed to be dragged across mountain ranges, but modern locomotive and coupler technology has changed the rules.
At Summit, the lead units pass the Continental Divide marker.
Although the head end of the train is over the summit, it still has to pull the rest of the train up. The hogger throttles up one last time, as the heavy coal train makes the grade.

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