Montana Combo is a great combination of two Montana railroad related subjects. First we see Burlington Northern’s Marias Pass, a 35 minute program shot in 1990 along this former Great Northern line, and then we have a 60 minute program “Montana Rails” which was shot in 2001 on the regional hauler Montana Rail Link (MRL). Both shows feature awesome scenery and unusual railroading action. These two shows are now together – released on DVD in 2006. Here’s what to expect from each show:
Burlington Northern’s Marias Pass
Located in northern Montana along the southern rim of Glacier National Park, this Burlington Northern mainline (formerly Great Northern Railway) route has the distinction of being the northernmost crossing of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Videotaped in the fall of 1990 you get to see a colorful mix of both scenery and trains on this mountain railroad. Pusher diesels from Essex assist many eastbound trains to the summit of Marias Pass at 5,213 feet above sea level. Our video shows coverage from east of Whitefish where there are several tunnels, to Browning, Montana which covers the best part of the line. Besides Burlington Northern locomotives there are also some GATX and LMX lease units to be seen. We also get to see a few early morning shots of Amtrak’s Empire Builder on a cold snowy morning. There are a lot of interesting trains and a great variety of locations that feature tunnels, bridges, snow sheds, and great Montana Scenery. Now that this is BNSF the video is historic in many ways.
Montana Rails (MRL)
Head to “Big Sky Country” for great railroad action and Rocky Mountain scenery. The Montana Rail Link is former Northern Pacific trackage, which today links cities in Montana to Burlington Northern Santa Fe rails. We begin at Paradise, Montana where the 4th Subdivision and the 10th Subdivision converge. A freight arrives off the 4th Sub, while another heads east over the 10th Subdivision. A special passenger train with a trio of older GP9’s departs and is followed eastward over the 10th Subdivision and Evaro Hill toward Missoula. The following day we continue east from Missoula toward Helena, and encounter a variety of trains and of course Mullan Pass. More time was spent in the area to photograph freight operations over Mullan pass which is the steep grade west of Helena. Helper sets are stationed at Helena for this brutal climb, and helpers can be seen on the front, in the middle, and sometimes in more than one spot. Helpers are often used to aid trains climbing the west slope as well.
We’ll see a variety of Montana Rail Link diesel power including the GP9’s on the passenger train, plus freight power including SD40-2’s, SD45-2’s and even a rare F45 on a local freight. There is plenty of variety on BNSF freight trains also, including Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, and of course newly painted BNSF painted units (Even the “Pumpkin Orange” scheme).