UPDATE—New photos of mega-loads below.
LEWISTON—In a surreal setting, hundreds of central Idahoans braved sub-freezing temperatures early this morning to line U.S. Highway 12 and witness history roll by.
Moms and Dads kept their little ones awake well past their bedtime, bar-hoppers skipped the last call at Lewiston taverns and truckers parked their rigs alongside the route to gave thumbs-up to the ConocoPhillips/Emmert International crew that guided the giant loads on the first leg of a four-day journey across the state.
Most had already seen the mega-loads parked at the Port of Lewiston over the last several months. But when they saw the T-rex size equipment on enormous trailers, teeth stopped chattering and audible gasps pierced the night air. Conoco hired Emmert to manage the move of the coke drums to the oil giant's Billings, Mont., refinery. At many spots along the route, the fit was so narrow that crews had to walk alongside the mega-loads. The scene was not unlike handlers walking giant balloons down Broadway in the Macy's Parade.
Once the rigs cleared Lewiston's city limits, the route quickly became pitch-black, driving home the delicacy of moving the loads along a rural highway bordered only by shear cliffs and a winding river. The shipment will spend the daylight hours parked alongside U.S. Highway 12, just outside of Orofino. The journey continues tonight at 10 p.m.