As I've aged, my fascination with trains has grown. I used to have a HO scale model train set in the basement of my childhood home which I would play with from time to time. I also learned within the last year or so, that my dad had wanted to be a train engineer at one point in his life. Maybe I'm connecting to some dormant energy, much like my love of photography and writing, which have arisen over the last 10 years. Or, maybe it's the awe and wonder of such powerful machines that draw me in. A sense of freedom and rebellion! What's more freeing than the thought of hopping on a freight train and traveling across the United States of America? Recently I took my camera down to Livingston, Montana for a project that I've been wanting to work on for some time.
The city of Livingston, Montana and Bozeman, Montana are separated by 25 miles, but in between lay the Bozeman Pass connecting these two mountain communities. With easy access to the train tunnel that runs through the pass, I wanted to catch a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train engine exiting the tunnel as it steamed its way westward. With the old tunnel having been shut down in 1945 still visible, I thought to myself what a cool shot it would be, especially with the recent snowfall that we had had. Without a definitive freight schedule though, I had to wait in Livingston for a train to arrive. As luck would have it, maybe 10 minutes into my arrival, I caught a train just outside of the Livingston train depot on the eastern side of town and awaited for it to pull in.
Now the ultimate game of patience would come into play, as I had no idea when engine number 7971 would be leaving town. I walked around Depot Rotary park snapping shots of the freight train, as it sat idly by, hissing and groaning. After an hour had passed by, her engine began to rev up, a signal that I had my green light to head towards Bozeman Pass. While it's only a 15 minute drive from the Livingston train depot to the Bozeman Pass tunnel, it took yet another hour for the train to make her appearance. The dog and I waited hillside, as a blaring horn could be heard in the distance. Reverberations in the tunnel would echo the sounds of the train rumbling down the tracks, until finally she had once again made her appearance against the backdrop of pock marked snow and emerald green evergreens. As she pulled away carrying what seemed to be coal or asphalt, I turned my camera around to catch the ass end of the train, as it made its way towards Bozeman. Now the opportunity presented itself to pull ahead of the train and head into Bozeman to hopefully catch engine 7971 as it thundered its way through the now abandoned train depot.
Built in 1892 after the original station had been burnt down by a cinder from a passing steam locomotive, the Bozeman train depot has sat dormant since 1979. Passengers no longer entering and exiting its romanesque doorways, but graffiti lovers adorning its brick wall with all types of creative colors, shapes, and objects. While I had brief thoughts of continuing my journey into Townsend, Montana, to track engine 7971, another hour and half drive ahead of me didn't sound too appealing. So we ended the day on a high note, excited to see the outcome of the shots I had captured.
To purchase some of these photographs in a variety or sizes and products, visit my Railroad Photography Fine Art portfolio, by clicking: HERE
For more photos from the day, visit my Behance Portfolio Account by clicking: HERE
My last blog post prior to this was in September of 2023 and was entitled Autumn in Yellowstone. Check it out by clicking: HERE
Train Photography Prints | Bozeman Train Tunnel | Railroad Photography | Montana Landscape Photography | Fine Art Photography | Art Prints Photography | Photography Blog | Livingston Train Depot