Electric railroad: Rockies #2

Electric railroad: Rockies #2

Most of the westward extension has now vanished and many of its structures have been demolished, save for a few spectacular ones. Tunnels have been blocked off and parts of the route are now highways, or in the more spectacular mountain parts, have become trails for people to walk or bike along and enjoy the scenery. This page is a gallery covering more aspects of the Milwaukee including its dereliction following its closure.

There are many spectacular stretches along the Milwaukee Road, but few have been photographed by enthusiasts though. That is because the line is remote and locations are regularly quite inaccessible. The picture of Fish Creek Tunnel took its photographer a good amount of climbing to reach. It might not seem much of a location but if one were to see the setting in its entire context its actually quite high up and prior to that the line has had to ascend the Vendome loop. Thus its not an every day location one would have used to see any trains!

The next picture however does show some of the spectacular route the line took – and its from a series of press photographs undertaken by GEC for the railroad company in 1915 – to show off what were at the time the biggest electric locomotives in the world. A number of these venerable locomotives worked right to the end of electrification in the 1970s.

One of the huge EF-1 locomotives built in 1915 by GEC – popularly known as Boxcabs. The example shown is a paired unit however some of these were three locomotives tethered together as a single unit!

Grace was a passing place sited between Fish Creek and Donald on the eastern side of the Pipestone Pass and located on a sort of plateau between the Fisk Creek and Little Pipestone Creek valleys. Despite its isolation it was undoubtedly a breather spot for trains as either side the line was considerably steep and very sinuous.

Westbound freight alongside the Clark Fork River near Superior, Montana, August 1970. Source: Twitter

A Little Joe leads three diesels and their freight across Turkey Creek Trestle, near Avery, Idaho. September 1970. Source: Twitter.

Little Joe with a westbound freight at Garrison, Montana. August, 1971. Source: Twitter

Freight near Lennep, Montana. July 1973. Source: Twitter

A set of Boxcabs leads a freight at Newcomb, Montana. October 1972. Source: Twitter

Boxcabs at Butte, Montana in 1973. Source: Pinterest

The last years of the Milwaukee’s electrified route through the Rockies. Two Boxcab units and a pair of Little Joes haul a train near Newcomb, Montana. July 1973. Source: Twitter

A westbound freight crosses the Frontage Road by the Clark Fork River. Nine Mile, Montana 1973. The bridge has been demolished. Source: Twitter

An eastbound freight begins its climb over the Pipestone Pass somewhere near Janney. September 1973. This is now a mountain bike trail. Source: Twitter

A battery powered ‘shop goat’ pulls a Little Joe onto the turntable. Deer Lodge, Montana. September 1973. Source: Twitter

Deer Lodge, Montana, is where the electric railway’s main locomotive depots and workshops once were. It was a very busy location right up until the 1970s when the Milwaukee company’s electric traction services were scrapped.

The end of the line

The Milwaukee’s rails seen five months after closure – no doubt waiting for the scrap merchant. Ingomar, Montana. Source: Twitter

Martinsdale,  Montana on The Abandoned Milwaukee Road Fairmont Speeder Trip, August 1980

Martinsdale station just after closure. August 1980. Note the signal. Source: Flickr

Martinsdale just before it was demolished in 2017. The signal was still there after 37 years! Source: Twitter

The Milwaukee’s sub station at Taunton, Washington on the line’s Cascades Division. Source: The Long Hunt

The former Milwaukee Road near Vendome Loop, Montana. Source: R67Northern

The entrance to the tunnel at the top of the Pipestone Pass. Source: Trainboard

Abandoned, partially dismantled, Milwaukee Road structure in Montana. This is the bridge over the Frontage Road. Source: Twitter

The partially demolished bridge over the Missouri River. Lombard, Montana. Source: Wikipedia

Milwaukee Road in Idaho

A derelict bridge near Adair in Idaho. Note the defunct cantenary masts. Source: Flickr

View from the rail trail

View of the Milwaukee’s route in Idaho. The trestle bridge in the distance is Turkey Creek bridge – seen in an earlier picture with a train crossing it. This view clearly shows the remoteness of the line. Source: Flickr


This 1915 silent film from General Electric shows the construction of the Boxcab locomotives (Class EF-1 and EP-1) as well as the hydro-electric power employed. There are shots at various locations and from the cab of these new locomotives. The film also shows the Milwaukee’s lines were fully colour signalled!

You Tube video featuring the final week of the Little Joes on the Milwaukee Road in Montana.

A mix of Little Joes and diesels in the final full year of Milwaukee Road electrification.

Plenty of good film including the earlier Boxcabs. The Little Joes were pretty fast – especially on the Hiawatha expresses!

The last ever journey through the Rockies! Enthusiasts bought this platelayers’ trolley and took it across the Milwaukee’s mountain route before the tracks were ripped up. See The Milwaukee Road Abandoned “Pacific Extension” Trip

The Milwaukee Trail, Butte, Montana.

The full list of posts featuring the Milwaukee’s Rockies Mountains electric division:


Electric Railroad through the Rockies

Electric Railroad through the Rockies #2

Milwaukee Road then and now – Harlowton to Avery:

Part One: Harlowton to Butte

Part Two: Butte to Missoula

Part Three: Missoula to Saltese

Part Four: Dominion to Avery

Milwaukee Picture Galleries:

MILW picture gallery #1

MILW picture gallery #2

MILW picture gallery – Seattle/Tacoma