When you read about the huge cost (in money and lives) of building railroads through the roughest parts of America, you have to wonder what it would be like to travel those routes. The guys at For 91 Days found out when they rode bikes on the 15-mile Hiawatha Trail in Idaho.
The Hiawatha Trail opened up in 2001 as part of the Rails to Trails initiative, which seeks to restore life to decommissioned train tracks across the country. The Milwaukee Road Railway Company had constructed these tracks between 1906 and 1909, recruiting laborers from around the world to work on an unprecedented line through the rough and largely unexplored Bitterroot Mountains. The men worked in unimaginably dangerous conditions, and the result was an engineering marvel: tunnels, bridges and the first long-distance tracks to be electrified. Eventually, passengers were able to travel west along the rails in the fabulous Olympian Hiawatha: a domed, double-decker car which connected Chicago to Tacoma. Eventually supplanted by air travel and semi-trucks, the route saw its final train in 1980.