Railroads of Montana
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Photography by Dale Jones







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The Milwaukee Road in Northern Idaho

On September 21, 2012, I  traveled “Up the St. Joe” to Avery, Idaho to take some “Then & Now” photographs of the Milwaukee Road for my upcoming book concerning the Milwaukee Road
and its connections in Idaho and Montana.

It appears that there has been some environmental remediation policy and clean-up put into action in Avery, Idaho since May 2012 – there is nothing inherently wrong with that – it's just what I found was just a shock. The old Milwaukee “West Yard” at Avery, Idaho – where the roundhouse/electric locomotive servicing area yard area would be is gone!!  

Below are a few photos of that September 21, 2012 trip to Avery, Idaho and of the old Milwaukee Road "roadbed" road...a.k.a - Forest Service Road #456 from Avery to Pearson/Moon Pass Road


                   Milwaukee Road Avery, Idaho "West Yard" Engine Serving Facilities - April 1974    

Milwaukee Road Avery, Idaho "West Yard" Engine Serving Facilities - September 21, 2012

The two photos above show the same Milwaukee Road Avery, Idaho "West Yard" engine servicing facility area nearly forty years apart. Landmarks that can help establish the yard location are the two power poles in the background across the St. Joe River- one on the left has a transformer on the pole and the pole to the right is near the old cable bridge that used to cross the river - in both pictures...the utility cable crossing the St. Joe can be seen in the right background. I was standing very close to the same spot on the hillside to take both photos, but because of decades of vegetation growth and removal of the oil tank on "Tank Creek" - the scene is not exact, but a reasonably close duplication of location


The Avery, Idaho depot [above photo] appears to have been constructed very near the beginning
of the Milwaukee Road in Idaho, as it appears in photographs from before the 1910 "Great Burn"
forest fire - it is preserved today and houses the Avery Post Office and Avery area Museum.
[See interior photos below]

             Interior View of Avery, Idaho Museum                              Interior View of Avery, Idaho Museum              Example of Historical Photos at Avery Museum  

 SEPTEMBER 21,2012

     Milwaukee Road Parlor Car "Twin Grove" at Avery, Idaho   

Today, sitting just east of the Avery depot is cafe-parlor car #185 "Twin Grove," which also contains a museum.  The Milwaukee Road was unique among U.S. railroads in building most of its lightweight passenger cars in its own shops. (The Pullman-Standard sleeping cars and the Super Domes were among the exceptions.) The post-war Hiawathas and Pioneer Limited used many new cars, but soon many of these newcomers began to support the secondary trains. Over the years the "Grove" series cafe-parlors (180-185) were assigned to different trains in the fleet, and two cars
(182 "Union Grove" and 185 "Twin Grove") were converted into
diner-lounges in 1959
for service on the
Pioneer Limited

During the train's early years, the Pioneer Limited was noted for a number of "firsts": it had the first government railway mail contract in the region, the first sleeping cars on the route, and was the region's first electrically-lighted and steam-heated train - the Pioneer Limited was also noted for its dining car service.

Streamlined, all-room sleeping cars first appeared on the Pioneer Limited in 1948. The Pioneer Limited was unusual in that it contained streamlined equipment home built in the Milwaukee Road's Milwaukee Menomonee valley shops.

As railway passenger traffic dwindled nationwide in the 1950s and 1960's, and passenger-train revenues were further eroded by the ending of most federal mail contracts -this state of affairs resulted in the discontinuance of the Pioneer Limited, with the train's final runs in September 1970.

Today, this rail car sits quite proudly in Avery, Idaho next to the depot she may have very well passed by many years before. [See interior photos below]

     Interior View of "Twin Grove" at Avery, Idaho                      Interior View of "Twin Grove" Kitchen                    Interior View of "Twin Grove" at Avery, Idaho  


On our trip, in September 2012, we went up [west to east] the North Fork of the St. Joe from Avery to Pearson, where the old Milwaukee Road roadbed turns into the biking/hiking only "Hiawatha Trail" - the trip can also be driven east to west from Loop Creek via St. Paul Pass or Moon Pass.`

The road from St. Maries is paved all the way to Avery. From Avery up the "North Fork," the road [Forest Service Road #456 - Moon Pass Road] is constructed on top of the old Milwaukee Road roadbed - it is widened to accommodate two lanes of traffic and in most places, room to pull over if needed. The grade is gentle as it was the former railroad grade. It's graded dirt and can be muddy when wet and "washboardy" when dry. There are no guardrails and the tunnels are narrow since they only had to be wide enough for trains - that being said, drive slow through tunnels with your lights on and honk your horn before entering [the horn echoes quite well in the tunnel] As may be seen from the accompanied photographs - tour buses with seniors from Spokane are also encountered!

Below is a series of photographs of the seven tunnel west portals from Avery east in the afternoon - the east portals have sun on them only in the morning and even then, some are in the shadow because of the steep terrain along the grade.

                      West Portal Tunnel #36                                                West Portal Tunnel #35                             West Portal Tunnel #34 with Forest Service Truck

             West Portal Tunnel #33 with Tour Bus!                                  West Portal Tunnel #32                                                   West Portal Tunnel #31

                      West Portal Tunnel #30                             Snags From 1910 "Great Burn" in the Bogle Spur/Railroad Creek Area Near Pearson - Moon Pass Road

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All material and photos that does not list specific sources are copyrighted by Dale Jones

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