Day Four is in the Montana Rail Link 1st Subdivision from MP 0.0 at Billings to MP 17.7 at Spurling, then in the 2nd Subdivision, from 17.7 at Spurling to Bozeman at MP 140.4, totalling 140.4 miles for the day.Engineer: Greg Kamholz
Between Billings (MP 0.0) and MP 12.0 (almost to Laurel Yard), the 700 is now cruising along at the westbound track speed of 50 miles per hour. Photo by Terry Thompson.
We stopped at Livingston for a photo run-by as shown by the following pictures. Livingston was a key location for Northern Pacific in steam days with a 44-stall roundhouse and a shop that overhauled the largest locomotives, such as the massive Yellowstones. The shops live on today as the Livingston Rebuild Center, overhauling diesel locomotives.
We had time in Livingston for two run-bys, each one disappearing around the corner that
exits the west end of town and heads immediately upgrade at 1.5%.
Randal O'Toole, PRPA's omnipresent seller of books, reported this conversation
with an older gentlemen after the second run-by was backing the train back into town to pick up
at the depot to resume the trip.
Gentleman: "Looks like they are going to have to hook on another helper diesel."
Randal: "Why do you say that?"
Gentleman: "Well, they've tried to get up the hill twice and couldn't do it!"
With the second run-by completed, and the "Quote of the day" not withstanding, the 700 is leaving Livingston and charging the hill with no intention of returning, unless in some other year. Photo by Terry Thompson.
The west end of Livingston is at MP 116 and the grade picks up immediately. Between there and the east end of the Bozeman tunnel at MP 127, the ruling grade is 1.8% with only a few short respites. The high point of the track is just beyond the west end of the tunnel at elevation 5562'. The tunnel is 3015' long and the grade through the tunnel is 0.6%.
For the return trip westbound, Montana Rail Link provided us with the breathing hoods that their helper unit crews wear through the Bozeman Tunnel and the Mullan Tunnel. Here fireman Jim Vanderbeck is getting set up by a Montana Rail Link person. Photo by Tom Weisner.
After the 700 has crossed the Bozeman Pass and come down the other side, the 700 breezes through Gordon at MP 135, about 5 miles out of Bozeman. Photo by Terry Thompson.
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