Montana By Steam 2002 - Part 3

Oct 11, 2002 Layover day on Montana Rockies Rail Tours siding at Sandpoint, Idaho.

This location on the MRL (Montana Rail Link) is Kootenai at MP 116.9 in the 4th Sub.

700 basking in the afternoon sun. Photo by Joel King.

This photo was actually taken on Oct 20, the day we got back to Sandpoint after a successful completion of the Montana By Steam excursion, but it is placed here to introduce two Montana gentlemen with whom we had much interaction. On the left is Bob Bateman of Montana Rail Link who made the effort to get qualified on every segment of the trip so he could be the pilot every day. On the right is Joel King, who was hired by Montana Rockies Rail Tours to be the MRRT safety officer for the trip. He provided for pedestrian safety at every stop and also had water hoses lined up and ready at our water stops. Joel is also a very good photographer as you will see below and he graciously provided many photographs for our use. Finally, we should put in a plug for Bob and Joel's activity with the Alder Gulch Shortline in Virginia City, Montana where they run a steam engine. Photo by Terry Thompson.

PRPA Concessions at Sandpoint. Photo by Arnie Holden.

About the Montana By Steam excursion

Montana Rockies Rail Tours runs diesel excursions several times a year between Sandpoint, ID and Livingston, MT so this excursion was not strictly rare mileage, but when you couple an NP-design steam locomotive on the front to pull those same cars over NP track that hasn't seen a steamer in about 45 years, we are definitely talking about a rare event. MRRT's initiative in asking the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association to pull their train with the 700 led to the result you see. Montana Rail Link personnel did a great job of moving us down the track, enabling us to stick to the schedule. In all, it was a pleasure working with MRRT, MRL, and Skyfire Video on what has turned out to be the trip of a lifetime for us. The PRPA expresses its gratitude to those folks and others at this link.

Oct 12, 2002 Day One of Montana By Steam excursion, Sandpoint, ID to Missoula, MT

Day One is all in the MRL 4th subdivision, starting at Kootenai MP 116.9 and counting down to 0.0 at Paradise, then counting from 219.2 down to 119.3 at Missoula, totalling 216.8 miles for the day.

Engineer: Jim Abney
Fireman: Terry Thompson
Assistant Fireman: AM Jon Sirrine, PM Steve Speer
MRL: Bob Bateman, engineer pilot, Missoula and Dave Swanson, road foreman/trainmaster, Missoula.
MRL support vehicle: Paul Elsenpeter, mechanical foreman, Helena.

You can see the rest of the train in the background being moved out onto the same track as the 700 in this early morning shot. Photo by Arnie Holden.

Less than 20 minutes out of Sandpoint, Joel caught us crossing the causeway on Lake Pend Oreille approaching Trestle Creek, Idaho. He called Bob Bateman on the radio asking for "smoke on the causeway". In Joel's own words, "The fireman obliged and we got this great photo. I got to tell ya it was the first time I asked the crew on a 4-8-4 for smoke. What a thrill."

It didn't actually happen that smoothly in the cab. Shortly before we got to that point, I had just put my assistant fireman Jon Sirrine in the seat for his first experience in the 700 and was intently watching and advising him, when engineer Jim Abney yelled "Smoke!". My first thought was "Huh? - we're not making too much smoke". I quickly checked and it looked OK. A second or two later, Jim yelled again, more emphatically, "SMOKE!". So I went over to Jim's side where we could hear each other and then he got it through my thick skull that Joel had called for smoke. By that time, we were almost across the causeway, but my fireman did make smoke in time and it is indeed a great photo. Photo by Joel King.

Crossing Noxon bridge on the Clark Fork river. Photo by Joel King.

Here we introduce another Montana gentleman, Ken Keeler of Montana Rockies Rail Tours, on the left side of the 700's pilot. Ken was the "motive power" that conceived the idea of Montana By Steam and brought it to fruition working in concert with MRL and the PRPA. Ken Keeler, MRRT and Bob Bateman, MRL at Paradise. Photo by Joel King.

Crossing bridge at Paradise with Skyfire helicopter overhead. Photo by Frances Matlock.

Splitting the semaphores at St. Regis. Photo by Joel King.

Fish Creek trestle. Photo by Joel King.

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