Flame and RuinSPECIAL SERIES: The fires of 1910

Route of the Hiawatha

August 2, 2010 1:14 p.m.  •  0 comments

An old rail line has been transformed into a popular bike trail along the Idaho-Montana border. The popular ride takes cyclists through the middle of the 1910 fire burn area.

Related story: Bike trail cuts through heart of 1910 burn area

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Bicyclists move through the treetops as they cross a trestle on the Route of the Hiawathas along the Idaho-Montana border. The popular ride takes you through the middle of the 1910 fire burn area. As the forests burned, evacuation trains loaded with people had to move between trestles and tunnels trying to find shelter from the heat and flames.

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Cyclists fly through one of the many tunnels along the Route of the Hiawatha.

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A storm gathers over the Idaho-Montana border and the Route of the Hiawatha. The Great Fire of 1910 burned this entire forest to the ground as residents tried to flee the flames on trains only to find trestles like the one at bottom of photo burned.

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As the 1910 fire raged, trains crammed with residents fleeing tried to dodge between trestles and tunnels on the Milwaukee Road. One person jumped from the train, perishing in the flames, and was later buried by the rail line, now the Route of the Hiawatha. Above, cyclists pass a grave marked by a cross and stones Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010.

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Bicyclists approach the end of the Taft Tunnel, the longest of several former railroad tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha. The tunnel is more than a mile long, dark, wet and spooky, and cyclists seem to love it.

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Bicyclists emerge from the darkness of the Taft Tunnel and into the light of a sunny day in the Lolo National Forest.

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A chipmunk with a mouth full of peanuts looks for another handout along the Route of the Hiawatha at the Idaho-Montana border summit.

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Bike riders on the Route of the Hiawatha stop for a photo at a promontory looking southeast just across the Idaho-Montana border.

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A shuttle bus lights the end of one of the tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha along the Idaho-Montana border. During the great fire, rescue trains loaded with hundreds of panicked residents of towns like Falcon, Grand Forks and Adair loaded onto trains to try and outrun the fires. They used these tunnels as escape and hiding places from the gale-force winds and flames running hundreds of feet in the air.

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Bicyclists cross a former railroad trellis high about the forest floor on the Route of the Hiawatha.

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The fire of 1910 completely destroyed the town of Taft, Mont., which now is just an exit off Interstate 90 as people head to the Route of the Hiawatha.

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