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Route of the Hiawatha
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
N 47° 23.780 W 115° 38.127
11T E 602970 N 5250110
Quick Description: The trail traverses approximately 15 miles of the former The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway’s “Milwaukee Road” rail line. There is shuttle service provided back to the west portal of the tunnel for a fee.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 12:51:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM4CNY
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member IDIFers
Views: 73

Long Description:
From an history sign on the trail:

The Route of the Hiawatha

In 1905, The Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway began looking for a route for their western extension over the Bitteroot Mountains. After five and a half months, exploring 930 miles, the railroad chose a route over St. Paul Pass. In laying out the route from the St. Paul Pass Tunnel the surveyors planned a line descending at a 1.7% gradient along the mountain slope. A big consideration in choosing this route was the potential for future traffic. This route down the St. Joe River offered exclusive access to huge quantities of old growth white pine and cedar timber. Interpretive sign on trail.

The Last Transcontinental Railroad

The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway’s Pacific Extension survived for 71 colorful years. Racing silk trains sped along the route, and long, rumbling troop trains carried men and materiel through four wars. The Milwaukee’s famed electric locomotives hosted presidents and celebrities and showcased the streamlined Olympian Hiawatha passenger train. The Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail, traces the most costly and difficult to build section of the railroad from Chicago to Tacoma. Today, thousands enjoy traveling over this scenic, historic trail helping keep alive the spirit of the Milwaukee Road.

The trail follows the trains and historians trace the history along the trail. When the Milwaukee Road abandoned its route over the Bitteroot Mountains, salvage companies striped the line of all the rails, ties, signals posts and everything else of value. The small fragments left behind are the remains of one of America’s proudest railroads. From 1907 to 1911 thousands of people lived, worked and played in this secluded part of the Bitteroot Mountains. They constructed a railroad while leaving faint signs of their own passing. Today you may see archaeologists digging and sifting along the Route of the Hiawatha Trail looking for clues about people and places not found in written documents. Historical research and archaeological field work helps breathe life into the history of the Milwaukee Road years.

The approximate 15 mile trail of the former The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway’s “Milwaukee Road” starts at the east portal of the St Paul Pass Tunnel on the Montana side and ends at a spot identified as Pearson Idaho.

According to the trail map a new portion of trail is in the works:
"Montana Section: Thirty-one miles of the route will be eventually added on the Montana side, including one tunnel and two trestles, for use by mountain bikers, hikers, all-terrain vehicles, horses and vehicles."

Country: USA

State/Province/etc.: Montana

Trail Start (town): St Pall Pass Tunnel (Montana)

Trail Finish (town): Pearson (Idaho)

Trail Length: 15

Trail Surface: Gravel/Stone

Pack Animals Allowed: yes

Fees: yes

Internet Link(s):
Skilookout.com's trail information
Skilookout.com's trail and shuttle fee information
Brian894x4's Milwaukee Road page


Rail-to-Trail Sign: Not listed

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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
dexteri visited Route of the Hiawatha 7/27/2011 dexteri visited it
Moun10Bike visited Route of the Hiawatha 9/6/2008 Moun10Bike visited it

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