Courtesy of Signature Montana Magazine
Twenty-two hundred miles from the Bears Paw Mountains, in the shadow of New York City’s wild Westside, a raised urban walkway meanders from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea–it’s called the High Line. It’s a top tourist attraction, packed with all kinds of strollers.
Like the highline that stretches from Shelby through Sweetgrass, New York’s revitalized raised rail spur provides open air, natural vistas, spiritual nourishment and a few colorful watering holes. It’s fun for this Great Falls girl to wander past daisies, wild grasses and coneflowers so far from home–there’s even a seasonal irrigation ditch where people take off their shoes and socks to cool tired city feet.
Both highlines witness the change of seasons without closure or apology; both are evidence of the enduring effort of intrepid, hardscrabble Souls–and both the the citified namesake and its Western cousin remind us that wild life and wildlife are better off when conflicting visions are managed in advance.
Real estate developers in the Big Apple didn’t take long to see potential high profits from theirHigh Line. At least NYC boasts adequate water, sewer, roads, and other infrastructure–the straining city services around the North Dakota oilfields are a cautionary tale for what could be headed to Montana’s highline.
To twist the one-liner from Field of Dreams,“If they come, we will have to build it.”
When New York City’s High Line was turned into a walking park, the neighborhood rejoiced at improved property values. A half-dozen new buildings went up, lickety-split, and four imposing structures are on the way–along with the Bakken oil field-sized Hudson Railyards, sort of a city within a city, going up on the north end.
Growth is often healthier on a trellis than when it’s allowed to sprawl: even if the shale oil fields don’t expand westward, Montana’s highline is already the railcar version of New York City’s High Line: Signature Montana readers know that grain farmers have been hootin’ and hollerin’ about untenable rail delays, and anyone who’s planning on riding Amtrak’s Empire Builder should pack a passel of patience: delays in Shelby have pushed eight hours.
It doesn’t matter which Highline you’re on: tread softly, and cock an ear to anyone who carries a big schtick.