I highlighted two fires of interest. First, the Okanogan Complex, containing more than 400 of the 1,000 square miles burning mostly out of control in central Washington State, and second, the Sheep Fire in central Montana, which poses a threat to a national treasure, the Izaak Walton Inn.
Click here to learn more about this precision flying squadron.
Okanogan Complex who have been on the job non-stop for weeks, enduring days of more than 100 degrees.
Some 200 personnel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma have supplied additional assets. And a cadre of firefighters from New Zealand and Australia, who, themselves have been plagued with increasing fires over the past few years.
Great Northern's James J. Hill sent surveyor John Frank Stevens to plot a railroad route over the Rockies. Stevens rode the rail to Havre, then took off cross-country to the Blackfoot Indian Agency at Browning, where he tried to hire guides. But none would take him to the low pass west of Browning, refusing because the pass was home to evil spirits.
Stephens' numerous engineering accomplishments are impressive.
Track Profile, Marias Pass, 1962.
The origins of Essex date back to 1889, the year Montana achieved statehood. Essex boomed with railroad workers on the western flanks of the pass. The workers patrolled the rail, tended water tanks, filled coal chutes, shoveled snow, and, occasionally, took a " helper" engine up the pass to pull a struggling train over the top.
Until 1930, there was no road linking East Glacier and West Glacier, and cars had to be shipped by rail for $6 each over the pass. But World War II interrupted Hill's plans, and the third park entrance never was built, leaving this island of elegance amid the wild and snow-topped peaks.
"James Willard Schultz, the 19th century author who grew famous for living much of his life among the Blackfoot Indians, gave the place its moniker, honoring the area's fine fishing as well as a fine fisherman from days gone by. Schultz named the inn - and the railroad siding - after the patron saint of fishermen, Sir Izaak Walton, who penned " The Compleat Angler" in 1653.
"The Izaak Walton was beautiful, without a doubt, but as train travel gave way to automobiles and airplanes, Essex began to shrink tight around the stylish inn. For years, the few passengers aboard Amtrak rumbled past the flag stop, waving at the employees gathered outside the inn, while automobiles raced past on the nearby highway.
"That is, until residents decided to cash in on the one natural resource they had in abundance. About 240 inches of snow fall on the Izaak Walton in an average year - more than 400 inches may fall in a big winter.
"The 33 rooms and four " cabins" (actually cabooses) fill with cross-country skiers from November to May. In the spring, travelers come to walk through wildflowers. Summer brings park visitors who want to hike and climb and raft the nearby Middle Fork of the Flathead River. In the fall, wildlife and golden larch call people from along the line." (Written by Michael Jamison, of Montana Lee Newspapers.)
The only Official Flag Stop for the Empire Builder Today, the Inn is a popular year-round stop for visitors, especially railroad buffs and cross country skiers. Adjacent to the Izaak Walton Inn is the possibly the most famous locomotive on planet earth - EMD F45 GN 441 - believed to be the only locomotive in the world that has been converted to living space available for rent.
a great tour of the loco-inn. Watch for the west bound freighter in full dynamics ~4:00 into video!
Revelstoke Limited purchased the former Santa Fe F45 in June 2008 and restored it externally as Great Northern 441. (There never was a GN 441. GN's last F45 was 440). It arrived at Essex on August 26, 2009, and became available for lodging in January 2010.
moving firefighters on work trains in and out of the fire area, located just above the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
See Also: BNSF War Train