By Tim Leeds
A train carrying more than 100 armored personnel carriers stopped on the railroad tracks in Shelby on Sunday.
"It was kind of shocking," said Shelby Mayor Larry Bonderud. "It really brought this war effort home. (A train) over a mile long of military hardware."
Bonderud said the personnel carriers were being transported on a military train over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks, and the train stopped briefly in Shelby. The carriers were being transported to a port in Texas to be moved to the Middle East, and there were 14 military trains on BNSF tracks over the weekend, he said.
Bonderud said he thinks the mobilization is in reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman in Seattle, said BNSF allows the military to use its lines for transportation, but has a policy of not providing information about the movements.
Actions in Montana due to the terrorist attacks include preparation by the Montana Army National Guard for activation of units. The Guard announced Friday that units in Malta, Great Falls and Kalispell were directed to prepare security teams for possible activation. The U.S. Department of Defense notified the Guard on Friday that security missions might be assigned to it.
Planes grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration's restrictions on flights following the terrorist attacks has delayed food stamp deliveries to about 1,000 households in Montana. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services, which administers food stamp distribution in the state, is attempting to contact the households to warn them of the delays. Most of the affected households are those that have recently become eligible for food stamps.
Hank Hudson, administrator of DPHHS' Human and Community Services Division, said people who are missing their food stamps and need help should contact a local food bank or office of public assistance for a referral to a food agency.
Delays of food stamp delivery should end once air travel returns to normal, Hudson said. Flight service resumed in Montana on Friday, with new security measures in place because of the terrorist attacks.
New safety measures have extended to rail travel as well. Amtrak announced Friday that it will conduct new testing and evaluation of crew members, increase safety briefings and launch joint reviews with freight railroads owning tracks it operates on. BNSF had imposed a 70 mph speed limit on Amtrak trains and requires that two Amtrak employees be in the operating cab of all Amtrak trains. The BNSF restrictions followed the terrorist attacks as well as rail accidents involving Amtrak trains in Texas on Tuesday and Utah on Thursday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.