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Edition #107, August 1, 2009


Photographer: James Ruffing

                                                                                  Photo by James Ruffing


For years I was fascinated with the railroads of Montana.
It probably started when I bought a model locomotive based solely upon it's striking colors when I was 7 or 8. Through my teen years and into my 20's, I studied pictures and poured over stories that were published. I listened to the tales of friends that had visited and devoured the slide shows they put on after they had returned (you know who you are!).  I even spent time attempting to model parts of it sight unseen.

Finally, 25 years ago in 1984, I got to see it for myself. I spent most of a week checking it out (on the return leg of a gov't paid business trip no less).  And even though people questioned my sanity for waiting to go to such a place in February, it was everything I had hoped it would be and then some.  After shooting untold rolls of Kodachrome, I could hardly wait until the slides returned to the mailbox to look through them - repeatedly.

Over the years, I journeyed back when I could.  That was hard to do living in the East, but it got a little easier after I moved to Colorado.  Each trip left me wanting to get back sooner, despite the occasional hardship - twice I suffered through a woman ending our relationship shortly after we had visited the state.  I was left trying to understand why it had happened as well as if there might be a connection.  Eventually though I liked the place enough that I thought I might even retire there someday.

Then I ended up in a personal and professional situation that allowed me to live anywhere I wanted. I took advantage of that, packed everything I owned into an overstuffed rental truck, and made the long drive north. Now that I've lived here most of a decade, I can honestly say I have no regrets and only one disappointment (the Northern Lights aren't as frequent as I had hoped).  I've even settled down with a wonderful woman who was born and raised in the state.

So when you look at the picture above (an early one from that first fateful visit), appreciate it for how much more than a simple photograph it is.  For it represents one person's lifelong pursuit of an inexplicable passion.

James Ruffing

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