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By providing food, the saloon helps with the cleanup after the Montana train derailment



Reed Point, Montana – Crews laboring to repair the major catastrophe are being fed by a small-town eatery just down the road from the Montana Rail Link train derailment in Stillwater County.

Owner Jerry Bichsel refers to The Waterhole Saloon and Steakhouse as a “typical small town bar in Montana,” with license plates and dollar bills adorning the hardwood walls.

“(We’re) slow through the winter, but as the weather gets nice, things start ramping up,” Bichsel said on Monday.

Bichsel was taken aback by the sheer number of diners seated when he entered his restaurant on a Monday after spending the weekend in Bozeman.

He learned that the restaurant’s owners, his daughter, and son-in-law, have been extremely busy feeding the cleanup crews for the train that derailed on a bridge that fell into the Yellowstone River.

“It was one of our best Saturday nights so far, or Saturday day and night so far,” Bichsel said. “We’re proud to have such an excellent bunch of people around that are working on this problem.”

Bichsel’s son-in-law Phoenix LaBrek was originally concerned about how the railway crash may affect the Yellowstone River.

“My first thought was more the nature and wildlife and the impact it’s going to have on it because of, well, a train dumping into the river,” he said. “My second thought was, oh, we’re going to be busy.”

LaBrek was indeed busy, and he was right. The bar and restaurant were packed with hungry crew members during lunch and evening.

“They tend to come in about five to 20 a piece,” LaBrek said.

Although the increase of business for a small-town restaurant has been pleasant, LaBrek and Bichsel expressed fear that another busy weekend — The Yellowstone Boat Float, a three-day float that generally runs from Livingston to Columbus — would be postponed as a result of the disaster.

Even while the event has not been postponed, it doesn’t seem possible that rafters would be permitted to pass the derailment.

They’re both just thankful that nobody was hurt in the incident at this time and that it seems cleanup is proceeding rapidly.

“This is a huge impact on not just the community, but the whole region and state. And I’d just like everybody to, you know, have patience. We’ll get through this,” Bichsel said.


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