Re: Marias Pass closed? MRL detours
Date: 02-22-2021 - 16:45
As part of the post-Frisco downsizing that saw Stampede Pass closed and the Ex-SP&S between
Spokane and Pasco torn out, BN intended to completely shut down the ex-NP line to through traffic, even planning to remove sections of the main line (a contractor was even hired to
remove some trackage) intending to make the line stub end branches. Dennis Washington made
BN an offer they couldn't refuse and saved the line as a through route. BN did not want MRL to have connections to UP so the Homestake line was mothballed to keep MRL away from a direct UP connection. Two years ago BNSF and MRL hyrailed the Homestake line and cleared trees.
The intent was to reopen Homestake as a route for empty unit trains, but traffic dropped off
and the plans were shelved again. Homestake route has steeper grades and wouldn't be real efficient for loaded unit trains. Back in the 1960's, the GN line was washed out completely and all GN traffic was routed over the NP line and NP managed to handle the traffic of both roads by fleeting and reopening several train order stations as 24-hour stations and making
yard limits between Paradise and Plains. (Westbounds got orders at Paradise and Eastbounds
got orders at Plains and Empire Builder ran as second section of North Coast Limited and
Western Star ran as second section of Mainstreeter by timetable.) Of course the Evaro Hill
line and Homestake Line were both in service. Evaro Hill was reopened by MRL.