Bad Day at East Portal, Montana
Derailment of a Westbound at East Portal Substation, March, 1974. Pending the Electrification shutdown, the overhead trolley was not repaired, and Electric power had to drop Pantographs for the remaining three months of operation as they passed by the East Portal Substation. Also shown is a Rotary operating eastbound through East Portal.
The Operator on Duty at the Substation was, as part of his job duties, required to observe the train for defects as it passed. During the winter the snow was too high to do this, but they generally opened a window and listened.
Ed Kieras, the operator on duty, was listening and heard what was clearly a boxcar being drug past off the track. He was just reaching for his telephone to call the train crew when "boom" there was a terrific noise, and the Substation machines flashed over and tripped out. Several boxcars had been wedged into the snowshed and opening of Tunnel 20.
To clear the mess, the St. Maries wrecker worked inside the tunnel from the west end, and the BN's Northern Pacific wrecker from Missoula worked from the east end to pull the boxcars free of the tunnel. Photos by Ed Kieras.