BNSF files to abandon section of original GN main line in Montana

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KALISPELL, Mont. — BNSF Railway has informed the Surface Transportation Board that it intends to abandon a 2.7-mile section of track through Kalispell, Mont., that was once part of the Great Northern’s original main line.

The notice of abandonment was filed with the federal regulator in April. The short section of track through downtown Kalispell was first put down in 1892 and is currently used by Watco’s Mission Mountain Railroad. Local officials plan to move two remaining industries — a grain elevator and a drywall maker — to a soon-to-be constructed rail park just east of Kalispell. The section of railroad through town will be ripped up and redeveloped into a trail.

The GN’s main line across Northwest Montana originally went through Kalispell and Haskill Pass west of there. The GN later moved its main line north to go through Whitefish and the line from Columbia Falls to Kalispell became a branch. In the mid-2000s, BNSF leased the line to Watco, which operates the Kalispell branch and another route from Stryker to Eureka, Mont.

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