M-19 Fairmont Speeder, east of Beverly, WA--volcanic ash from Mouth St. Helen's 1980 eruption is visible on the tracks.
In the winter of 1980 The Chicago Milwaukee St Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) abandoned almost two thousand miles of track west of Miles City Montana. The abandonment of the “Pacific Extension” was the largest single railroad abandonment in American history.
In early August 1980, Alan L. Freed and Chuck Bothwell took what may be the final trip on the abandoned Milwaukee Road’s Pacific Extension from Miles City, Montana to Cedar Falls, Washington. They both worked as Locomotive Firemen and Engineers on the Penn Central’s Chesapeake Division in the early and mid 1970’s.
A 1952 M-19 Fairmont Speeder was purchased for $400 from a scrap heap at the Maine Central Railroad Yard in Waterville, Maine, specifically to make this trip. A “new” railroad was formed–The Great Northeastern Pacific South and Western Railroad, affectionately known as the “Weedroute.”