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When Amtrak's Empire Builder derailed six months ago, the world caught a glimpse of the strength of the Hi-Line


Last updated 4/1/2022 at 12:06pm

Photo credit Jason Stahl

A memorial stands Oct. 23 at the East Buelow train crossing near Joplin, the scene of an Amtrak derailment Sept. 25 that killed three including Don and Marjorie Varnadoe and injured dozens.

by Jason Stahl

University of Montana

Teresa Violett was outside her house in Chester painting the cement foundation when she heard the sirens.

It was Saturday, Sept. 25. The retired teacher had lived in Liberty County for 38 years, and she knew what each siren meant: The first one, for a scheduled meeting. The second, for ambulance. The third, for fire.

But when a fourth sounded, Violett paused in her painting and looked up. In all her years, she'd never heard a fourth siren sound in Chester.

It meant disaster. All hands on deck.

Ten blocks across town, 911 calls flooded the Liberty...

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