Harlowton’s Railroad History

Central Montana is a mecca for folks interested in railroad history.

Harlowton was the end of the electric train line and one of the electric engines stands proud watch over the town’s Central Avenue.

You can see the “pan” or square-looking antenna-like gadget on top of the E-57B electric engine and that is what connected to make electricity above the train. Every time I’m in Harlowton with friends we use the E-57B as a backdrop for a photo.

Today, not many people remember or have even heard of an electric rail line. To keep that history alive the community of Harlowton has restored their depot and it is now open as a museum. Displays there cover the electric line and the railroad that followed it.

And, a note of trivia here, Harlowton’s school team name is the Engineers!

I stopped by the depot museum although it had technically closed for the season (open Memorial Day to Labor Day).

They were eager to share their history and the gal who opened it for me said they had a visitor about a half hour before I arrived who simply drove up out of curiosity – good timing for that traveler!

This past summer was the first season the museum was open. My tour guide said it was a work in progress but I think they’ve done a great job already. There are some very unique items that people will be interested in seeing.

I’d like to connect the dots on all of the railroad history in Central Montana and Harlowton is a good place to start.

If you are driving through Harlowton (or by the community, as many people do) take some time and learn about rail history.

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