Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

Montana’s railroad car bridges

Marty’s photo of the day #3763: In Montana, when people need a bridge, they often go to the railroad yard and buy a used flatbed car. In fact, on the dirt road leading to Deb’s and my house, we cross both a river and a stream on bridges made with railroad cars. When we first moved to Montana, neither of our bridges had guardrails. That changed several years later, when the fire chief informed us that he would not allow his fire trucks over our bridges without them.

The bridge you are looking at is the bridge leading to the yurt we rented in the American Prairie Reserve. The first time I drove over it—admittedly a bit white-knuckled—I didn’t realize that it was a railroad car bridge. Later, when Deb, Nellie, and I walked along the Judith River, I went under the bridge to look for bats. I didn’t see any bats, but I was surprised to see that the bridge was actually two railroad cars welded together with a wooden top.

Even though I’m used to crossing railroad car bridges, this one is twice as long as ours at home and about twice as high too. I drove across it a half-dozen times during our stay, but never quite felt comfortable doing so.

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