Monday, August 23, 2010

Montana Rail Link's Locomotive No. 4300 - Latest Generation of the Iron Horse

At the Helena, Montana rail yard on August 13th the Montana Rail Link locomotive No. 4300 leaves early evening towards the continental divide’s Mullan Pass. I ran into a rail photographer at the road crossing by the station. He and I struck a conversation as I had not seen the line before nor had seen these types of locomotives on any of the 42N country rails.

Although I didn’t get his name he told me he lives nearby, walks the dog by the tracks and likes to photograph the trains leaving the station. As I began taking photos he filled me in on Montana Rail Link history and the probable mission of #4300 that evening.

He said most likely that the three locomotive formation (Nos. 4300, 4313 and 4310) was outward bound some 13 miles west of Helena to help with the transport of a train carrying coal back toward Helena.

Since the locomotives are there to assist loads coming up or down mountainous terrain the local photographer said to check out the sand sprayers located near the front and back set of steel wheels. Sand helps to provide the grit on the rails needed for better traction.

My host told me that five years ago, Montana Rail Link purchased locomotive number 4300, the first of 16 new locomotives. The purchase was intended to replace aging locomotives on trains crossing the Rocky Mountains over the continental divide at Mullan Pass and Bozeman Pass.

That's a lot of effort involved to move material. But without that effort the wheat, coal and other producers from this region would not have an affordable method to transport goods in bulk. Know that.