Facebook Page

To the Twin Cities via Portland Part 2

by Chris Guenzler

Empire Builder 8/28 8/05/2009

Yesterday the Empire Builder Train 7 was delayed twenty minutes in Seattle for a mechanical problem then got along Alaska Highway in Seattle and the lead unit brakes locked up. They ended up being over an hour late into Spokane and the two sections were combined into the Empire Builder. Our train now had a consist of Engines 50 and 82, Baggage 1243, Transition 39042, Sleepers 32012, 32068 and 32015, Diner 38043, Coaches 34054, 31039 and 31009, Lounge 33021, Coaches 31031 and 34024 and Sleeper 34023.This all occurred while I was sleeping soundly. I woke up right after Libby.

A westbound loaded coal train DPU's. I walked six cars forward to the Dining Car and was seated with three ladies traveling together. One lives in Cowen Heights, one in Corona who was having a birthday and the other from Colorado. I enjoyed Pancakes and sausage patties. The train passed through the Libby Tunnel while I was eating. The train then made the journey into Whitefish and a fresh air stop.

Great Northern NW3 181.

The Great Northern Railway Rocky the Goat.

Great Northern Railway Bus 101.

The Empire Builder at rest at Whitefish.

Whitefish Mountain has a ski resort built upon it.

Small Shay steam engine at Columbia Falls.

The first tunnel right out of Columbia Falls.

The North fork of the Flathead River right before Coram.

Belton also known as West Glacier.

The Empire Builder has entered the canyon just east of Belton.



The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is the route we follow east and is also the southern boundary of Glacier National Park.

Through the trees along the river.

The next tunnel.

Followed by another tunnel.

Looking back tracks and river.

Nyack where two main tracks start and continue until Paola.

Mountain Peaks in Glacier National Park.

Looking back down the grade.

More peaks in the park.

Two main tracks.

The double track ends at Paola.

The last two tunnels of the morning.

A ledge before Pinnacle.

Pinnacle is where the next section of double track starts and runs to West Java.

The Essex Ballast Pit.

Water Tower at Essex.

Izaak Walton Inn at Essex.

Railroad Tie Train waiting for us the clear our Flag Stop at Essex.

The Izaak Walton Inn Van is about to load its guests and head back to the Inn.

Snowshed just east of Essex.

The Goat Lick Trestle.

West Java where the double track from Pinnacle ends.

Passing the slide zone east of West Java.

The Java High Bridge.

East Java where the next section of double track starts and runs east until Summit.

The next snowshed.

At the next snowshed we met a westbound BNSF grain train exiting it as we entered it.

The showshed to the east of that other one.

Another snowshed.

Most of the snowsheds are on a curve but not this one.

Looking back down the tracks.

A straight snowshed.

This snowshed is just west of the next one.

The last snowshed.

A former snowshed location.

Looking back.

The snowsheds we had just traveled through.

A view looking back as the clouds built over all the mountains. While it can be clear on one side of the mountain it can do the opposite on the other. No peaks could be seen from the eastern side on this trip.


Marias where crossovers used to be.

Railroad Continental Divide Sign.

Summit the end of double track from East Java.

Between Summit and Bison.

West Bison.

A small lake at Bison.

East Bison.

Bridge just before East Glacier with wind protection features added for safety of trains.

East Glacier Lodge and a bus.

A BNSF work train leaving East Glacier after we cleared the switch.

The East Glacier Station.

Helpers waiting at East Glacier.

The Two Medicine River Bridge.

The High Trestle over the Cut Bank River before our station stop there. I took a fresh air break at Shelby then took a nap on the way to Havre.

Just before Havre, the Milk River prior to our servicing stop at Havre. The Ice Cream Machine gave me two for the price of one. The train left Havre at 2:30 PM {1:32 PM} and continued east with me watching my Jethro Tull DVD "Living with the Past". At Chinook the westbound Empire Builder flew by us on the mainline running on time heading to Havre and points beyond west.

On the way to Malta we stopped at Wagner to reboot one of our engines. It was here on July 3, 1901 that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's Wild Bunch pulled off one last great train robbery when they held up the Great Northern Flyer taking about $65,000 before splitting up forever. The train stopped in Malta and I was walikng into the Dining Car as the train came into Glasgow. I was seated with a man going to Milwaukee, a lady going to a Cousin Reunion in Wisconsin and a young man from Scotland. I had the Flat Iron Steak and chocolate bundt cake for dessert. Dinner was done as we pulled into Wolf Point. I put on my DVD of Blue Oyster Cult "A Long Summer Night".

Interesting rock formation before we entered North Dakota and ran to Williston our next stop.

Great Northern 2-6-2 3059 at Williston.

American Farm Resources 1369 at Williston. The train left at 8:38 PM {7:09 PM} and headed east towards Stanley. I made up my room and called it another night after another great day aboard the Empire Builder.


I was up at 6:00 AM and headed to the Dining Car for a Pancakes and sausage patties breakfast. ETA into the Twin Cities was now 9:00 AM.

The next stop was at Staples.

Miles later we crossed the Mississippi River on the way to St. Cloud.

The St. Cloud Station. The train then sprinted the final miles to the Midway Station in the Twin Cities arriving there at 8:00 AM {7:05 AM} ending another excellent Amtrak Adventure aboard the Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder. Now to get the rental car and start the next part of this trip.