Train Crash Highlights Value of Community

Last Saturday afternoon seemed like an ordinary weekend for residents outside the sleepy town of Joplin, Montana. With a population of only 200, nothing much happens in this small farming community 150 miles northeast of Helena.

Around 4:00 pm in the afternoon, Joplin farmer Trevor Fossen was traveling on a dirt road near rail tracks when he saw an unusual site: a wall of dust hundreds of feet high.

“I started looking at that, wondering what it was and then I saw the train had tipped over and derailed,” Fossen later recounted.

The derailed train was Amtrak’s “Empire Builder,” traveling from Chicago to Seattle with 141 passengers and 16 crew members.

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