Montana By Steam 2002 - Part 4

Oct 13, 2002 Day Two of Montana By Steam excursion, Missoula, MT to Bozeman

Day Two is in the Montana Rail Link 3rd Subdivision, starting at Missoula MP 119.3 and counting down to 0.0 at Helena, then in the 2nd Subdivision from MP 238.4 at Helena down to 140.4 at Bozeman, totalling 217.3 miles for the day.

Engineer: Greg Kamholz
Fireman: Jim Vanderbeck
Assistant Fireman: AM John Cox, PM Charlie Harrison
MRL: Bob Bateman, engineer pilot, Missoula and Pete Storseth, road foreman/trainmaster, Helena..
MRL support vehicle: Paul Elsenpeter, mechanical foreman, Helena.

Leaving Missoula

Departing Missoula heading east on a cold crisp Montana fall morning.. Photo by Joel King.

The 700 coming out of the Beavertail Tunnel between Missoula and Drummond. Photo by Joel King.

Garrison MP 50.9

We stopped at Garrison for a photo run-by as shown by the following pictures.

Bob Bateman (in the engineer's seat) with fellow MRL engineer Perry Smith just before the run-by. Perry was running the westbound freight we met at Garrison. Both are ex- Milwaukee Road trainmen. Photo by Joel King.

The passengers have detrained and the 700 will continue backing up until it's around the corner out of sight, then come storming by. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

Photo by Frances Matlock..

Photo by Joel King.

Fireman Jim Vanderbeck confers with MRRT conductor Ken Keeler at the conclusion of the run-by. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

The run-by is over, the passengers are back on board, the chasers and pacers are back on the highway; Montana By Steam pulls away, leaving behind only wisps of steam and a few wistful onlookers. Photo by Arnie Holden.

Near the Little Blackfoot River about six miles east of Garrison. Photo by Joel King.

Service at Elliston MP 28.9

We stopped at Elliston for a quick servicing of the engine (shooting the rods). Terry Kimzey, on the step ladder, is attending to the forward air pump. Photo by Terry Thompson.

While the crew is servicing the engine on the engineer's side, The PRPA's Randal O'Toole (left of the two figures) is performing another vital service for the PRPA - selling concessions, in this case a book about the 700 written by Randal. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Mullan Pass

Jim Vanderbeck was the first steam fireman to fire over Mullan pass in 45 years and he has written down what the experience was like:

"Firing the 700 over Mullan Pass was a lot easier than I expected. After getting the feed water pump, the dampers, the atomizer and the firing valve set just right, it ran like a dream. If the track profile didn't change or the engineer didn't need to adjust something, I didn't have to change anything on my side. The color of the stack varied slightly almost with each exhaust, gray, to darker gray, to lighter gray then to clear. I expected some shade of gray as I was pushing the fire quite a bit but the draft caused by the exhaust made it so easy. The engine barked up that grade, mile after mile like I had never heard it before. I hung my head out the window as much as I could to savor the moments and tapped my foot to the beat of the exhaust. That bark still echoes in my head. It was over too soon as I saw the end of the Blossberg siding and the tunnel ahead. Now the moment of truth for any fireman. The track leveled just before the tunnel and I had to clear the stack and maintain the water level in the boiler as we started to descend into the tunnel. Everything worked out very well. There was plenty of water as we exited the tunnel and I hadn't gassed us in the cab too much. I had a little trouble adjusting to the downgrade toward Helena. Not working the engine, the exhaust and draft changes completely so for awhile I gave the photographers a good cloud of smoke for their pictures."

Jim Vanderbeck Fireman

Climbing the grade. Photo by Terry Thompson.

After climbing a ruling grade of 1.4% up the west side, and passing the siding at Blossburg, the Continental Divide (as far as the railroad track is concerned) is about 500 feet from the west entrance to the Mullan Tunnel. The tunnel is 3896.5 feet in length. The grade then dips down at 1% through the tunnel, and after emerging on the east side, the grade dips further down at a steady 2.2%. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Austin Gulch Trestle on the east side of Mullan Pass. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Austin Gulch Trestle. Photo by Ted Curphey.

A little further down is the Greenhorn Gulch Trestle. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Descending the Austin Loops. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Descending the 2.2% grade through the Austin Loops, the train frequently doubled back on itself. Photo by Ted Curphey.

Service stop at Helena MP 0.0

From left, Linda Vanderbeck, Dale Birkholz and John Cox are shooting the rods. Photo by Terry Thompson.

Terry Kimzey, John Cox, Dale Birkholz and Linda Vanderbeck shoot the rods while Jeff Schmid patrols the track. Photo by Terry Thompson.

MRRT Conductor Ken Keeler poses with a young passenger, each showing their railroad watch. They were actually posing for another photographer, but it was too good to pass up. Behind Ken and to his left is MRL's Bob Bateman wandering through the picture, while MRRT safety officer Joel King, followed by another safety officer, is striding purposefully down the track to warn an onlooker about not crossing. Photo by Terry Thompson.

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