Railroads of Montana
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
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
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
AVERY, IDAHO MILWAUKEE ROAD DEPOT - SEPTEMBER 21,2012
Idaho depot [above photo] appears to have been constructed very near the
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
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
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]
MILWAUKEE ROAD ROADBED AVERY, IDAHO TO PEARSON SEPTEMBER 21,2012
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.
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