A few miles south of where I-90 crosses the Columbia River in eastern Washington is a quiet town called Beverly. Tucked against the slowly-drifting river in the shadow of the Saddle Mountains, Beverly's most arresting man-made feature hasn't been used for its intended purpose in nearly three decades, now merely utilized for transmitting electrical power and collecting bird droppings.
On an early spring morning in 2007, I visited Beverly and the Milwaukee Road's Columbia River crossing. Standing on the river's bank with the cold water slowly sliding past my toes, I gazed up at the bridge and imagined I could hear a westbound train approaching, charging hard in advance of the climb to Boylston.
But those memories are not mine; the Pacific Extension had been abandoned for more than a year before I was born. My memory is of a striking structure stepping across the mighty Columbia, gradually accumulating graffiti, rust and other natural waste, yet still defiantly proclaiming to all who pass by that this place was once traversed by the last transcontinental railroad -- and standing as reminder that trains may one day again ascend the slopes of the Saddle Mountains.