Sandpoint to Shelby

At Sandpoint Junction (MP 1403.3), the former NP line now owned by Montana Rail Link turns away northeast, a connection to the UP (SI) line continues straight ahead, and the BN-built connector over to the ex-GN line turns away west-northwest, crossing the SI on the flat at UP Crossing (MP 1402.5), and joining the original GN formation at the 10,363 ft. siding at Boyer (MP 1401.3), where a remnant of the original GN line trails in from Metaline Falls along the Pend Oreille River to the west. From this point, the line heads north, with speed limit 79-60 over the single-track, CTC, line.

There is a detector at MP 1398.6, Bronx, a 7,439 ft. siding at Colburn (MP 1394.1), as the line turns east-northeast, a spur on the northwest side to W.I. Forest Products (MP 1393.5) as it turns northeast, Samuels (MP 1391.3) as it returns north-northeast, a 9,9912 ft. siding at Elmira (MP 1387.4), as the former SI approaches on the east side, McArthur as both lines turn east-northeast, a detector at MP 1381.6, where the speed limit is 70-60 and the lines curve north again, and a 9,577 ft. siding at Naples (MP 1379.8), where the ex-SI moves away on the east side. The main line turns northeast to pass under the former SI in 479 ft. Tunnel 10.2 (MP 1376.2), where the speed limit drops to 45-40, curves northwest and then back to the northeast, as it passes through 610 ft. Tunnel 10.1 (MP 1374.1) and passes Moravia (MP 1373.3), then turns east, north and northeast again to Bonnerís Ferry (MP 1368.4), where the speed limit is 50-45 as Two Main Tracks, CTC, begin, and 60-55 thereafter.

The line turns east, entering and then following the Kootenai River valley, on the south side of the river, past crossovers at CP 13663 (MP 1366.3), detectors also at MP 1366.3, curves east-northeast past Crossport (MP 1364.3), east to East Crossport (MP 1363.4), where the 2MT reduce to single track, CTC, and the speed limit drops to 35-30 along the curvy river bank, curves east-southeast, northeast (on a stretch where the line is clearly visible from the ex-SI, partway up the hillside across the river), north, east through 394 ft. Tunnel 10 (MP 1359.9) and 992 ft. Tunnel 9 (MP 1359.5), south past the 10,440 ft. siding at Katka (MP 1357.8), east and then south-southeast past a detector at MP 1356.6 and the 8,235 ft. siding at Leonia (MP 1350.3) into Montana, south, east with the river alongside to the north, southeast through 192 ft. Tunnel 8 (MP 1348.5), south-southeast through 731 ft. Tunnel 7 (MP 1346.9), south and south-southeast again, past the 11,082 ft. north side siding at Yakt (MP 1343.3), where the speed limit has risen to 45-40, southeast past a detector at MP 1340.9 and a road bridge overhead, and south-southeast again past the 14,286 ft. north side siding at Troy (MP 1337.9), with a dirt road grade crossing in the siding and four extra tracks on the north side, where the speed limit is 60-55, and two bridges over side rivers.

Tunnel 6 (1,396 ft., MP 1335.3) is on a curve southeast, after which the line turns east, into the Kootenai River Gorge, past a dirt track grade crossing, moving away from the riverbank, a dirt track grade crossing, the 8,641 ft. north side siding at Kootenai Falls (MP 1331.3), with the now much narrower river alongside to the north, a footbridge overhead, and extra track on the north side near the east end of the siding, where the speed limit is 45-40, curving back and forth along the river bank, where the river is now much broader again, and east-southeast at the Intermediate Signals at Rankin, where the speed limit rises to 60-55, past a dirt track grade crossing to cabins on the river, a small town across the river, the river turning away, a dirt track grade crossing to a group of houses, the river coming back, a detector at MP 1324.1, a dirt road grade crossing, and a dirt road alongside to the north, to the 10,510 ft. north side siding at Libby (MP 1319.6), where there is a passenger station (depot on the south side), the river moving away, a dirt road grade crossing in the siding, extra track on the north side, a dirt road grade crossing in the siding, a bridge over a culvert, a dirt road alongside to the north, extra track on the north side at the east end of the siding, and a road bridge overhead.

The line turns northeast, curves east past a road bridge overhead, a through truss bridge over a side river, the river briefly alongside again, a grade crossing, the river moving away, Intermediate Signals at MP 1017.x, the river back again and then away again, Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 1315.9, and the river back again, and turns south at Zonolite (MP 1314.8), with the river moving away again, east-southeast at the 9,568 ft. south side siding, starting west of MP 1313.x, at Ripley (MP 1312.2), where the river is back again and there are former bridge abutments, and MP 1311 is just east of the east end of the siding, and east to Jennings, where the former GN main line turned north to follow the Kootenai River valley to Rexford before turning southeast to Stryker. Today's line instead turns south, away from the Kooteani River, on the diversion along the Fisher River necessitated by the 1964-70 construction of the Libby Dam creating Lake Koocanusa (which runs north into Canada, where the river arises) in the Kootenai River valley.

The diversionary line (actually, at this point, the former (original) GN line via Haskell Pass to Kalispell, abandoned in 1912) passes a stub of the former Eureka main line heading away on the north side, crosses a side river on a through girder bridge, passes  the 10,799 ft. 'north' side siding at Riverview (MP 1306.9), with two extra tracks on the 'north' side and the Fisher River beyond them, crosses the Fisher River on a through girder bridge, and then runs along the base of the mountains on the east side of that river, past a bridge over a dirt track, Intermediate Signals, and a dirt track grade crossing, and turns just north of east at the 9,769 ft. south side siding at Fisher River (MP 1298.0), with a dirt track grade crossing within the siding, where the speed limit rises to 75-60 and then 79-60, past a bridge over a side stream, a detector at MP 1296.1, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at Sterling, a rocky cutting, a dirt track grade crossing, two bridges over streams, a slide fence on the north side, the 10,344 ft. north side siding at Tamarack (MP 1290.0), with two bridges over streams in the siding, extra track on the north side, and a spur on the north side in the siding, a dirt road grade crossing, two bridges over side rivers, a turn more northerly, a bridge over a river, and a dirt track grade crossing, before the diversionary route diverges northeast from the now closed Haskell Pass line, turns north past the 9,730 ft. south side siding at Wolf Prairie, with a bridge over a road within the siding, northeast past a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, a detector at MP 1276.4, and a wooden road bridge overhead, and north-northwest past the 9,760 ft.  'south' side siding at Rock Creek (MP 1273.2), with a bridge over a culvert and MP 1273 within the siding, and then turns north through the 7.0 mile Flathead Tunnel (MP 1264.6 at its 'east' end), where the speed limit is 50 mph, emerging through the tunnel door and past the ventilation plant and the local summit to the 9,763 ft.  'south' side siding at Twin Meadows (MP 1263.5), with a bridge over a stream within the siding, and a bridge over a culvert, a bridge over a road, and then three extra tracks on the 'north' side, at a lower level, trailing in at Swamp Creek.

The speed limit rises to 79-60, the line turns east-northeast at Swamp Creek (MP 1260.4), north-northeast past a dirt road grade crossing at a detector at MP 1258.1), two dirt track grade crossings, Intermediate Signals at MP 1257.x, and a dirt road grade crossing, and northeast past a dirt road grade crossing, MP 1254 on a high embankment, and the 9,722 ft. south side siding at Brimstone (MP 1252.8), with a slide fence on the north side and MP 1253 within the siding, before turning  southeast, with a spur curving away to the north (a connector to the earlier alignment) and a dirt road grade crossing, up on the southwestern hillside above the previous alignment (near Trego on the still extant segment from Eureka), descending and rejoining the original alignment trailing in from the north-northwest at Stryker (MP 1249.3), where the speed limit is 70-60 through the junction, before retuning to 79-60 past Intermediate Signals at MP 1246.x, the 9,711 ft. south side siding at Radnor (MP 1243.3), with a dirt road grade crossing just inside the west end of the siding, and then dropping to 65-60, past fir trees on both sides of the line, a detector at Olney (MP 1236.6), a grade crossing just east of the detector, a bridge over a road (US 93), and the 9,325 ft. south side siding at Lupfer (MP 1231.1), with a grade crossing at the east end of the siding, turning south along the east side of a broad valley, past Intermediate Signals,  and then east-northeast, past a small lake on the north side, through 0.2 mile Tunnel 5A (MP 1226.8), east and then curvily south along the west shore of Whitefish Lake, past the 7,060 ft. north side siding at Vista (MP 1224.6), where the speed limit is 55-50, and then east at the south end of the lake, past a grade crossing, a bridge over a river, extra track on the north side, helper terminal with water tower, 5-stall roundhouse, and turntable on the south side and a road bridge overhead, to the division point at Whitefish (MP 1217.5), where there is a ten track yard, and the passenger track, stuffed-and-mounted GN NW3 181, and half-timbered depot are on the south side of the tracks.

East of Whitefish, where the speed limit is 20 mph and there are Two Main Tracks, CTC  (but three tracks total), the line turns east-southeast, the speed limit rises to 70-60, and the line passes the east end of the yard, a grade crossing the northernmost track trailing in at East Whitefish Crossovers, a bridge over a stream and a dirt road, fields, signals for the crossovers, the west crossover, detectors at MP 1212.9, and the east crossover at Halfmoon (MP 1212.8), where the speed limit is 70-45, three extra tracks on the north side, two grade crossings, a 4,015 ft. siding on the south side, and crossovers, at Columbia Falls (MP 1211.6), where there is an old depot with a stuffed-and-mounted 2-truck Shay, a wye junction on the south side at which the line northeast from Kalispell trails in, a west-facing spur on the north side, and US 2 bridging overhead.

The line then heads generally eastward, with two extra tracks on the north side, east of MP 1210, and an east-facing spur on the north side, all trailing in before the east-facing signals at the beginning of single-track, CTC, with speed limit 40-35, at Conkelley (MP 1208.7), with the line running along the Flathead River valley (on the north side of the river, with the highway on the south side), starting its climb over the Rockies, on a ledge on the north side in Bad Rock Canyon, past a detector at MP 1208.6, a slide fence adjacent to the rock wall to the north, leading to Tunnel 5 (MP 1207.6), a slide fence on the north side east of the tunnel, then another slide fence, and a dirt track grade crossing.

There is a turn north, crossing the river on a long deck girder bridge, past a dirt road alongside to the north, the 11,157 ft. south side siding at Coram (MP 1203.9), where the speed limit has risen to 60-50, with the river alongside to the north and well below, a grade crossing and a dirt track grade crossing within the siding, east, with a wooden retaining wall on the slope to the north, a grade crossing, a wooden retaining wall on the slope to the north, and a dirt track grade crossing, and then north past Lake Five, east past Grizzly, north past a detector at MP 1198.9, and then east again.

From the 10,232 ft. south side siding at Belton (MP 1196.1), aka West Glacier, located adjacent to the west entrance to Glacier NP, with a bridge over a road, west of the depot, the depot on the south side of the tracks, a short east-facing extra track on the north side adjacent to the depot, a street alongside to the north, and the highway (US 2) alongside to the south, the line, running curvily east along the south bank of the Flathead River with speed limit 50-45 and the highway on the hillside above and south of the line, passes Tunnel 4 (MP 1194.5), Tunnel 3.9 (MP 1194.0), Silvertip, Tunnel 3.8 (MP 1192.5), Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 1192.2, and Tunnel 3.7 (MP 1191.2), and a bridge over a side stream, turns south-southeast and climbs past Intermediate Signals at ~MP 1189, Sheldon and  Intermediate Signals and a detector at Nyack (MP 1188.0), east-southeast past a dirt track grade crossing, a meadow alongside to the north, extra track on the north side and a wye on the north side of the line, Red Eagle (MP 1185.2), where Two Main Tracks start and the speed limit rises to 60-45 and detectors at MP 1185.1.

The road (US 2) climbs and bridges over the line, which then runs on a south-side ledge above the river to the north, heading south-southeast past Intermediate Signals at MP 1182.7 and at MP 1180.1, Hidden lake, Intermediate Signals at MP 1179.x, Sink Hole, a bridge over a side stream, Paola (MP 1177.6), where single track resumes and the speed limit falls to 50-40, two bridges over side streams, Tunnel 3 (MP 1176.7), a bridge over a side stream, Tunnel 2 (MP 1176.2), and a bridge over a side stream, and turns south past Intermediate Signals at MP 1175.x, a detector at MP 1175.1, with the line on a ledge above road and river to the north, MP 1174, a bridge over a side stream, and Pinnacle (MP 1173.2), where the speed limit falls to 45-40 and Two Main Tracks start again, the spur at Essex Pit (MP 1183.1), into the gravel pits on the north side, MP 1171, a dirt track grade crossing in the fir trees, a bridge over a stream, a dirt road grade crossing, and detectors at MP 1170.3, to reach the crossovers, two extra tracks on the north side and one on the south side, and helper terminal (with its water tank and wye) at Essex (MP 1170.2), where the Izaak Walton Inn is located at trackside (on the east/'north' side, as are the helper facilities), with a footbridge overhead to cabooses used as rooms on the west/'south' side, a turn more easterly, and the station (no depot, el. 3,876 ft.) at which Amtrak serves Essex, on a southeasterly segment just "east" of the helper terminal and Inn.

The line continues southward along the south (west) side of the middle fork of the Flathead River, in the ever narrowing valley between sheer rock mountains (located in Glacier National Park on the east/north side of the line), past a turn more southerly, and Snowshed 12 (MP 1168.4, el. 3,900 ft.), a snowshed/avalanche shelter on a ledge above the river to the 'north' with a slide fence to its east, to MP 1168.0 and the road beyond the river, Intermediate Signals at ~MP 1168.x and at MP 1167.7, among the lodgepole pines, turning southeast past MP 1167 and across Sheep Creek Trestle over a side stream (with the famous Goat (Salt) Lick just downstream), south past detectors at Java West (MP 1166.1, el. 3,978 ft.), where the speed limit drops to 30-25 and the line, on a ledge high above the south side of the river far below, with a slide fence on the south side, reduces to single track, and turns southeast across Java Creek Trestle over the Flathead River.

There is a bridge over US 2 on the east/'north' side of the river, Java East (MP 1165.2), where 2MT begin again, with extra track on the south side, and the line turns east-northeastward on a ledge along the north side of a deep canyon, with a ruling grade of 1.8%, past Snowshed 11 (MP 1163.8), northeast past Snowshed 10.7 (MP 1163.5) and Snowshed 10 (MP 1162.7), a slide fence on the north side, Intermediate Signals at MP 1162."8/9", a bridge over a side stream, Intermediate Signals and detectors at MP 1162.1, a slide fence on the north side, Singleshot, and a bridge over a side stream, Snowshed 9 (MP 1161.2, built 1912), a bridge over a side stream, and Snowshed 8 (MP 1160.9, el. 4,370 ft., built 1913), north past  Snowshed 7A (MP 1160.75) and Snowshed 7 (MP 1160.6, built 1913), northeast past a slide fence on the north side, Snowsheds 6 (MP 1160.25, built 1912) and 5 (MP 1160.1), Intermediate Signals at MP 1160."2/3", east, with a slide fence to the north, past Snoshed 4D (MP 1159.85, el. 4,458 ft.)), northeast, Intermediate Signals at MP 1159.2, north, past an old tunnel on the north side, Intermediate Signals at MP 1158.2/3, the beginning of a "Test Mile" at MP 1158, el. 4,632 ft.,  and northeast again to Blacktail (MP 1157.6), where there is a short spur on the north side.

There are detectors and a spur on the south side at MP 1157.2, as the line turns northwest up a side valley, around a clockwise horseshoe, past the "End Test" sign at MP 1157, el. 4,781 ft., southeast to the main valley, northeast past Intermediate Signals at MP 1156.0/1, McCarthyville, across another side stream on an embankment, past a bridge over a small side stream and MP 1154, el. 4,979 ft.,, and then east across a somewhat wider valley, past Intermediate Signals and detectors at MP 1153.7/8, northeast, north, past MP 1153, el. 5,069 ft., and a bridge over a side stream, and east to the crossovers at Marias (MP 1152.2), with US 2 alongside to the south, then north, past a bridge over a small side stream and extra track on the north side, which then turns away, and northeast to the Continental Divide (el. 5,213 ft.) at Summit  (MP 1149.4), where there is an obelisk on the south side of US 2, and the speed limit rises to 40-35 as the 2MT reduce to single track again. New signals being installed in August, 2009, are still turned sideways at that time.

The line now descends, with a ruling grade of 1.2% and a speed limit 50-45, past a 'bridge' over a side freshet, MP 1149, a bridge over a culvert, and three bridges over side freshets, MP 1148, a snow fence on need of repair above on the hillside to the north, Pike, MP 1147, a short embankment over a side valley, MP 1146, a small lake on the north side, False Summit, Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 1145.5, just west of the west end of the 9,536 ft. north side siding at Bison (MP 1144.0), MP 1143, west of the east end of the siding, Cataract, a detector at MP 1142.5, just east of Bison East (east end of the siding), an embankment, MP 1142,and Rising Wolf, turns east-northeast, past an embankment and a dirt track grade crossing, to Talbot, and north past MP 1140, a detector at MP 1138.8, a bridge over a dirt road, and a bridge over a road, to reach the seasonal station at (East) Glacier Park. The wooden depot is on the north side of the track, with an additional track on the south side. The massive wooden Lodge, built by the Great Northern railway to promote tourism, is adjacent to the station, to the north. East of Glacier, where there is a small community on the south side of the line, on US 2, and a golf course to the north, the climb over Marias Pass is concluded and the high plains begin.

In June 2013, there are new signals turned sideways all the way from Two Medicine Bridge to Havre West.

Turning northeast, with speed limit 45-40, and passing over the Two-Medicine Bridge, a large trestle over the Two Medicine River, which separates the Two Medicine Reservation from the Blackfoot Reservation, the line then turns east past a cutting just east of the bridge, then an embankment, signals at Grizzly (MP 1136.1), where 2MT begin again. The line curves back and forth on the high plains, northeast with speed limit 65-50, past a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1133.9, rolling hills, and a dirt road grade crossing, to Spotted Robe (MP 1131.8), where single track resumes and there is a detector, north on an embankment, and then east-northeast past Triple Divide,  Intermediate Signals, an embankment above the plains with a view of the mountains to the west, Dirham, Intermediate Signals, a rocky cutting and an embankment, then east, past a road bridge carrying US 2 overhead, south on an embankment, and east again, with a snow feance on the south side.

At the 12,183 ft. siding at Browning (MP 1123.9), with extra track on the south side, where the speed limit is 55-50, the east face of the Rocky Mountains in Glacier National Park can be seen in all its glory, and there is a run-down depot, at the location seasonally (Winter) used by Amtrak, on the north side of the tracks, two extra tracks on the north side, and a road bridge overhead, all within the siding. The speed limit rises to 70-60 as the line turns northeast past Kipp, Intermediate Signals at MP 1119.3,  and a detector at MP 119.1, east-northeast past a dirt road grade crossing, signals at Blackfoot (MP 1116.2), where the speed limit rises to 79-60 and 2MT begin again, a wye on the north side with a line going off to the north, off an extra track on the north side, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1113.7, and a dirt track grade crossing, northeast, east, and east-northeast past a grade crossing at Port El Boite, Intermediate Signals at MP 1111.3,  a spur to two south side elevators at Meriwether (MP 1110.3), a dirt track grade crossing, and the crossovers at Piegan (MP 1106.5).

The line turns east past Intermediate Signals at MP 1103.4, a spur to an elevator on the south side at Pardue Simmons (MP 1100.5), a dirt road grade crossing, Sundance, a dirt track grade crossing,  detectors at MP 1099.0, a dirt road grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1098.6, Opel, a dirt road grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1096.x, Gunsight, rolling hills, curves back and forth, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1093.7, and Garnet before turning southeast, crossing a high bridge over a deep valley with a river, and two grade crossings, with a street alongside to the north, to signals at Cut Bank (MP 1090.1), where the speed limit is 30 mph and there is a wooden depot and platform on the south side of the tracks, a grade crossing, four extra tracks serving five grain elevators on the south side of the tracks and one on the north side, all rail-served, three extra tracks on the north side and one on the south side, east of the north side elevator, a road alongside to the north, and crossovers on the east side of town, where the speed limit rises to 79-60.

The line turns east past detectors at MP 1086.3, rolling grassland on both sides of the line, and a Union Oil spur at MP 1085.1, southeast past Intermediate Signals at MP 1083.2, Boru, two bridges over culverts, east at Intermediate Signals at MP 1080.6, and extra track serving an elevator on the south side at Ethridge, with isolated mountains off to the northeast, past a dirt road grade crossing, detectors at MP 1077.8, and Intermediate Signals at MP 1076.3, a jog southeast, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 1073.2, on a line with concrete ties, Simla, a dirt road grade crossing, a dirt road grade crossing to a farm on the north side, MP 1071, Intermediate Signals at MP 1070.8, crossovers at Teton (MP 1068.4), where the speed limit drops to 65-45 and a single-track line south from Calgary trails in from the northwest, there are dual road bridges overhead, a massive signal bridge controls the crossovers between the line that trails in, the two tracks from the west. and four tracks to the east (into the yards on both sides of the tracks (four tracks in the yard to the north) and the station area), and the line turns southeast, past a road bridge overhead. The yards reduce to a single extra track, on the north side, which passes north of the depot, and the line reduces to a single track, with a road bridge overhead and a street alongside to the south, west of the wooden depot at Shelby  (MP 1065.4) on the north side of the track.