Much of my inspiration comes from the Kettle Falls International Railway and in 2010 the KFR. (just to the west of the imaginary MFR) experienced a bit of an upset as a large portion of it's line connecting Kettle Falls to Canada was declared for sale or abandonment. Discussion immediately begain around turning the line into an international bike trail, but many wanted to invoke "Railbanking" to preserve the line for future use.
It appears the line has been preserved and is still in use thankfully, but this moment of uncertainty reflects the type of railroading I'm looking to recreate on the MFR. Check out these articles for more info: