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Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Milwaukee Road Railroad in My Novel, Marble Creek

Electrified Milwaukee Engine in the Bitterroot Mts.
              The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad was the last transcontinental rail line constructed in the United States, reaching the Pacific in 1909, and adding the word "Pacific" to its name.  Everyone called it the Milwaukee Road.  Electrification was added between Harlowton, Montana and Avery, Idaho, by 1915, because there was plenty of hydro power and copper in Montana but, also, because of forest fire danger in the mountains.

         We all love trains, and the Milwaukee Road is a character in my novel, Marble Creek.  Please nominate it on Kindle Scout until July 3 for a possible eBook contract. And please share this post.  If it gets a contract, you get a free download of Marble Creek from Kindle.

         My character, Malachi O'Neill, clings to a ladder, riding in front of a boxcar from Butte, Montana, into Idaho.

            O'Neill exulted in this new calling of transporting arms for Ireland.  When it slowed for a stop, passing under a bridge or approaching railroad yards, he hopped off and trotted behind the depot, working blood into stiffened limbs.  As the train started up with its devil shriek and locomotion, he climbed back on.  Fellow hobos and yard bulls left him alone.

        Couplers strained and clacked as the train looped around mountains; steel wheels ground against steel rails in long shrill screams as it descended.   Wind rushed past him.  Straight tracks became scarcer, curves tighter and more frequent.  With little time to relax his hold as cars leaned first one way and then the other in rapid succession, his arms grew weary.  The train roared across a long trestle and he grew light-headed peering into the deep shadowed canyon.  Mountainsides of skeletal burnt timber still reeked seven years after the 1910 inferno.. The train approached the long tunnel he disliked; plunged into its dark throat, its engine roaring and pounding in a deafening din through two black miles beneath a mountain.  Blessed be this electrified engine with no black smoke smotherin' me.  O'Neill dipped his head inside his raised coat collar while groundwater showered from above.  The train thrummed under its trolley lines over trestles and through tunnels, then into Idaho's St. Joe Valley.  At Avery, the division point hugging the St. Joe River in a narrow
canyon, its electric engine was exchanged for a coal-fired locomotive.

        My favorite train song, "Way Out There" by the Sons of the Pioneers is HERE


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