May 20, 2017
Like a postmodern American Stonehenge – silent – proud – pillars – rising as if a portal into another world crumbling yet will not bend to time though its intended task of lifting swifting elegant trans-con passenger trains and heavy-long freights across and over the Lind Coulee that beaks westward into the expansive Kansas Prairie to what must have seemed as terra incognito: the American West some hundred years prior present. Herculean was the 1905 Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad board blessed 2,300-mile Pacific expansion completed in Olympian speed: just three short years at the cost of nearly two billion today-dollars labeled in retrospect as an “egregious” adventure by certain modern railroad scholars. Maybe. Certainly, the Milwaukee’s future, at the time, was burning as brightly as the setting sun over the Pacific itself. A vision forged into a reality shortlived unbeknownst its heads. Fortuna was not favorable to the bold Road. Unforeseeable events; the erratic, unpredictable evolution of the industry; draconian regulations; notwithstanding critical lapses in sound management contributed to its slow, steady, decline, and untimely death. And still, the mystery of its mystique affects and attracts us like Neolithic Druids paying homage…wondering what was and what might have been.
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