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The Mountains
Though we collectively call them The Rockies, the large section of high alpine country, which girds the western portions of the country, resolve themselves into a number of distinct, and somewhat interlocking ranges. So forbidding were these ranges, that for much of the history of this country, it was faster, easier, and safer, to take a ship all the way around South America, in order to get to the east, than to attempt crossing the mountains. Eventually passes were discovered, and finally the railroads came though. Today, I can drive to this area, in the space of a couple of days. Our two day trip to Seattle, would have been a harrowing, dangerous journey of months, a a hundred or so years ago.

Pulling into Havre, for a layover before tackling the mountains. Though the land here is hilly, and somewhat rolling, it is not what you would call mountainous. Still, they are coming, and you can kind of see the buildup here, in the foot hill country. This is the state of Montana, after all, named for the mountains which it contains.
Welcome to Havre. This was another layover, giving me a chance to look around a bit. The old steam engine below and above, is the kind of thing that is beloved of all rail fans - myself included.
The platform side of the station. It is labeled as Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Amtrak started out as an amalgam of the surviving passenger railroads in the early seventies. Many of those old railroads still exist as freight carriers. Others have gone out of business; but their old stations still carry their signage.
Inside is a pleasant station that had been modernized once or twice. A ticketing and baggage counter, as well as a wall of vending machines mark this is a full service station.
The city side of the station. this was somewhat fo a long stopover, so I got out, and wandered the town a bit.
The Montana landscape, dotted by the occasional oil well, with the promise of the mountains ahead.
Shelby Montana, looking the way you would expect Shelby Montana to look.
The platform at Shelby, with passengers awaiting the train.
People congregate in the observation car. The window's give a great view, and the seating and ventilation systems offer comfort. A mere century or so ago, this was hard country to cross and to live in. Before the railroads, a trip to the Pacific coast was taken by ship around the southern tip of South America, because that was easier than trying to cross the plains and mountains. Now we sit in comfort, talk, snack, and read. Those with compartments might even snooze.
Mining and ranching are the main forms of income here. Neither of them is particularly scenic.
A hardscrabble ranch.
A family in the dining car points out the long anticipated mountains.
A few still used shacks totter on the bring of collapse, but are still of use to their owner.

An old abandoned homestead sits in the foothills of The looming Rockies.
Whenever possible, the train follows the rivers and passes. Only towards the end to the trip will we go up high, or pass through tunnels. The rivers were the original means of transport, with the hills and mountains being far too rugged. These were the highways of the native Americans, and early explorers and traders.
The train passes the station at Belton. We are now in the Glacier National Park area. this has become quite the destination for train bound tourists.
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