|Morning dawns cold and overcast at Essex, signalling
the arrival of a cold front, bringing much needed snow
for skiing. A pair of BNSF C44-9Ws backs down on
the work engine storage track; the Geeps are going to
Havre for a lookover.
|Once coupled to the heavy stack train, the Conductor
gives the highball, and all four engines dig in to lift the
train up over Essex Hill. Judging by the exhaust, the
Geeps aren't accustomed to this much work.
|Shortly after the departure of the stack train, a
single unit "baretable" train of empty intermodal flat
cars rumbles up the hill.
|The following morning, the Empire Builder glides
through, pausing briefly at what the town folks refer to
"Essex Union Platform".
|Out of nowhere, a Priority Piggyback Intermodal
|..and blows through Essex, leaving only a blizzard
of snow behind.
|A short walk to the east of Essex brings us to Shed
the westernmost such structure on Snowshed Mountain.
As temperatures dropped to single digits, I walked in a
circle to keep warm, as did John Stevens a century ago the
night he discovered Marias Pass. The weather system,
which has been threating all morning, finally lets loose
with a torrent of snowflakes.
An eastbound manifest grinds past, up the 1.8% grade.
|As westbound trains descend Essex Hill under full
dynamic braking, they make a distinctive noise, like a
hive of angry bees buzzing.
The lead locomotive on
this westbound stack train is
[August 1998][January 1999][December 1999][March 2000][July 2000][December 2000][December 2001][May 2002][December 2002][May 2003][December 2003]