Beer Spills into Montana’s Clark Fork River!


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Paddlers on Montana’s Clark Fork this spring might find a little welcome surprise bobbing in the eddies: beer.

A freight train carrying beer derailed along the Montana waterway on April 2, near the town of Paradise and Quinn’s Hotsprings. The railcars that spilled into the river were empty or carrying Coors Light and Blue Moon beer, said the reporting agency, adding that about 25 cars derailed, posing “no threat to the public with  no hazardous material released.”

montana beer spill
Not a bad mission for a safety boater…

Still, us being paddlers couldn’t help but notice that the section of river it spilled into is on the Clark Fork along Highway 135 about 70 miles northwest of Missoula, which is a popular but mellow, fast-moving float.

For all of you beer chasers out there, the Clark Fork is one of the longest rivers in Montana, stretching for 300 miles from its headwaters in the Warm Springs Wildlife area just west of Butte, Montana, to where it flows into Idaho and turns into Lake Pend Oreille. Named after William Clark from the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition, it increases in size across Montana, carving the famed Alberton Gorge whitewater just north of Missoula.

After flowing through the Bitterroot Valley it re-enters the mountains, including the Bitterroots, Coeur D’Alenes and the Cabinet Mountains. Paradise, near where the beer spill occurred, is a small town that sits along the Clark Fork between the Coeur d’Alene Mountains and the Cabinet Mountains, near where the Flathead River feeds into the Clark Fork, turning it into the largest river in the state. Most people paddling the Paradise stretch put in at Cascade Campground for a day trip.

Still, you might want to bring your own beer along just in case. Reports add that not many cans got away and that unlike other recent train spills in the country, there was no hazardous material involved or threat to human safety.

“The coordinated effort with our resources and Montana Rail Link, we were able to identify the products involved and that there was no hazardous materials posing an immanent threat to public safety,” read the official release. “The local MRL folks were on scene and on the tracks quickly assessing damage to the cars involved and any potential environmental concerns. The rail cars that reached the river were empty or carrying Coors Light and Blue Moon.”


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