Mountain bikers might consider their interests on a separate track from those of railroad buffs. But a recently published railway history book is, perhaps by coincidence, a guide to some of the best mountain bike routes in North Idaho.
“The Milwaukee Road In Idaho,” by Stanley W. Johnson, is a delightfully detailed visit to the turn-of-the-century heyday of railroading in the broad area near the Montana-Idaho border.
Now that the railway has been abandoned and the tracks removed, most of the rights of way have become choice terrain for walkers, horse-riders and a new personal-size version of the iron horse, the modern mountain bike.
Johnson is a retired university dean whose stepfather was a conductor for the Milwaukee. The author has many memories of riding the rails, especially through the St. Joe River Valley. The book matches the personal insight with a commitment to history and mile-by-mile detail. All this translates into a guide for many miles of fascinating rides on gently graded rail beds.
The routes described include railways that have already become popular with bikers near Lookout Pass - routes that include tunnels and enormous trestles. The author provides the background for the St. Paul Pass Tunnel (Taft Tunnel), nearly two miles long.
The book is available for $14.95 from the Museum of North Idaho, P.O. Box 812, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-0812, telephone (208) 664-3448.
, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under headline: Ride into Great Fall