Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Olympian ...

For much of the twentieth century, three of America's great transcontinental railroads traversed Montana east to west, and all three companies served the state with luxurious long-haul passenger trains.  The Empire Builder still operates today, the longest-lived and best-known of Montana's trains, but the state's most exotic and memorable passenger trains were operated by the Milwaukee Road.

The year 2011 marked the hundredth anniversary of the first of those trains, the Olympian.  This old postcard view show's the train's inaugural run, pausing at the depot in Deer Lodge.  Even one of the town dogs has come down to see what all the excitement was about!

The Olympian was a fairly conventional-looking train in 1911, but within a few years the Milwaukee electrified its main line across western Montana.  The electric locomotives combined with the railroad's bright-orange paint scheme to give the Olympian a sleek, futuristic style that no other Montana railroad could match.

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