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Montana Railroad
Lombard/Sixteenmile Canyon

Montana Railroad Logo Story
by Dale Jones
Click HERE for a PDF file of this story


   The Montana Railroad was indeed a Montana original. The logo above was one of the first corporate logos used in Montana railroading. The “cowshead” logo appeared first in the Lewistown, Montana Fergus County Argus on December 15, 1897. Only the Northern Pacific’s “Monad” logo that originated from the Korean flag at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair pre-dates the Montana Railroad logo.


   The Montana RAILROAD is not to be confused with the Montana RAILWAY which was a non-operating subsidy of the Montana Union Railway that ran mostly from Stuart to Anaconda, which in turn was Union Pacific controlled. On June 30, 1897 the Montana RAILWAY was sold to the Northern Pacific Railway.


   Let’s go back the Montana RAILROAD. Richard A. Harlow organized the Montana Railroad on May 26, 1895* to run originally from Lombard [named for the railroads chief engineer, A.G. Lombard] on the Missouri River where it connected with the  Northern Pacific running approximately 56 miles to Leadboro [Leadborough] in the Castle Mountains which was in the throes of a silver boom. The Depression of 1893 caused the demise of profitable mining in the Castle area and Richard Harlow came up “a day late and a dollar short” when he entered into transportation of ores from the Castles. The Montana Railroad in its early years rarely if ever made a profit so when Mr. Harlow decided in 1899 to extend his rails into the Musselshell Valley and eventually to Lewistown, he had to use much persuasion or “jawboning” to achieve financing. Hence, the moniker “The Jawbone” came to be associated with the Montana Railroad. Tracks reached Merino in June of 1900. A new town was formed here and rail yards constructed which were renamed Harlow after the Montana Railroad’s builder but the United States Post Office required the name be changed as it appeared to close to “Harlem” a town and railway station on the Great Northern Railway in northern
Montana. So, to comply, the name was amended to Harlowton, which is what it is
today. In its final configuration, the Montana Railroad operated over 157 miles of

tracks which was incorporated into the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
system in 1908.


* There seems to be a discrepancy as to the actual incorporation dates of the Montana Railroad. Donald B. Roberston in his very informative volume of railroad information "Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume II - Mountain States" under the "Montana Railroad" lists the incorporation date as September 4, 1894. Montana resident Don Baker in his 1990 book entitled "The Montana Railroad" on page 23 states the incorporation date for the Montana Railroad as May 26, 1895. It is my opinion that Mr. Baker is probably correct as no contracts or building were initiated before the summer of1895. Richard Harlow did in fact charter other railways previous to the Montana Railroad including the ill-fated Montana Midland. So, I suppose technically, Mr. Harlow DID start working on the Montana Railroad even though not officially under that title.



Baker, Don

The Montana Railroad - Alias: the Jawbone

Copyright 1990 by Don Baker - Billings, Montana


Robertson, Donald B.

Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume II - The Mountain States

Copyright 1991 by Donald B. Robertson - Taylor Publishing -Dallas, Texas

Dale Jones -Copyright ©2012



Lombard/Sixteenmile Canyon

PHOTO DISCLAIMER: The photos on this page are from my collection. I have been researching and collecting railroad photographs and memorabilia for over forty years, I have gathered materials from many different sources - original owners, photographers, online groups and connections, "swap meets" or from those who wish to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, many images have been passed around from collector to collector and the original photographer's identity may have become lost.
If I have used your photo without giving you credit – it is unintentional.  
That being said - if you find a photograph that you took and I have not given you credit.
 Please let me know...I will give credit where credit is due

The Milwaukee Road Traversed Montana [Sixteenmile] Canyon after Inheriting the Route form the Montana Railroad    

Lombard, Montana  - Aerial View 2012 [Click to Enlarge]  The old Milwaukee Road Bridge is still seen across the Missouri

It was the Montana Railroad that put Lombard on the map. As mentioned in the above article, Richard A. Harlow was the builder of the Montana Railroad and originally the location now called "Harlowton" was named "Harlow" after the railroad builder. The road's chief engineer was named Arthur B. Lombard, when the Montana Railroad reached the junction of the Missouri River
and Sixteenmile Creek - he named "Lombard" after him.
The Milwaukee Road inherited Lombard after the transcontinental route built through in 1908.

In it's heyday, Lombard's 800 inhabitants hosted a hotel, school and all the other amenities of most Western towns. Both the Milwaukee and the Northern Pacific maintained depots in Lombard. There was also an interchange yard and from time to time, the Milwaukee stationed helpers there for the 40-mile climb up Sixteenmile Canyon.

The town of Lombard was abandoned in the late 1950's when the Northern Pacific and Milwaukee agencies were closed and the interchange yard abandoned. Even though Montana Rail Link still passes through the Lombard location, the Milwaukee has been gone since 1980 and nothing much remains today.

Many folks today desire to travel into Lombard to check out what's still there. Here's a gleaning of some comments from various railroad discussion groups concerning current access to Lombard:

"The easiest way in to Lombard is still from the north from Toston. It's a county road with legal access. Yes, watch for rocks and snakes. If you're in the tall grass, make plenty of noise and tap on the ground. A tripod is helpful here. Snakes will feel the vibration and try to get away from you. This is a good thing as you don't want to argue with them. That whole Horseshoe Hills area is heavy with snakes and even back when I was a kid, stories came out of that area about the snakes.

There is a way in to Lombard from the south at Clarkston, but it involves gates and knowing just where to go. It's not for the feint of heart and one could get in trouble easily. Trespass is not always taken lightly in Montana, and your GPS won't show you that without specific software. Keep in mind that posting for trespass requires nothing more than fluorescent red on a rock or
post. One Poster commented
 (I believe Ted Turner owns as least some of this land). I would not recommend accessing without permission as individuals out there may shoot first and definitely do not like trespassers.

Coming in from the Maudlow side, the simplest way is probably by way of Belgrade and Menard on the Dry Creek Road. Note that access along Sixteenmile Creek is on private property and as some have learned, the landowners are not always friendly.

You can also come into Maudlow from the northeast from Ringling on the
county roads, but it's a long way across to Belgrade that way."

Below is a gallery of historical photographs of the Lombard / Sixteenmile-Montana Canyon area
during the Montana Railroad and Milwaukee Road eras


Questions or Comments?  

All material and photos that does not list specific sources are copyrighted by Dale Jones

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