Whitefish, Montana [December 2001]

In 1905, the Great Northern line through the Salish Mountains west of the Rockies was rerouted via the Tobacco and Kootenai Rivers, and the Haskell Pass line through Kalispell was abandoned. As a result, the division point was moved from Kalispell to Whitefish, a small burg on the south side of Whitefish Lake. Today, Whitefish is still a division and crew change point, and a stop for Amtrak's Empire Builder.

An early December blizzard coats a local freight, which is waiting for a new crew to arrive.
A set of BNSF "goatboats" glides into town, leading a hotshot intermodal laden with piggyback trailers.
In a ritual that goes back more than a century, a fresh crew slogs through the heavy snow to board the hotshot. GN NW3 181, now a static display locomotive, keeps watch over the proceedings.
Behind the hotshot, a westbound manifest freight blows past the Bavarian-styled Whitefish depot.
Finally clear of all the westbound traffic, an eastbound empty grain train muscles its way out town.

[December 2001][December 2003]