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Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana d

Spring Training from Fullerton, CA, to Los Angeles to Essex, Montana

Amtrak:  Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder.

May 12 - 13, 2010 - Story and Photos by Carl Morrison,

Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

Typical Arrival of the evening Westbound Empire Builder at the Izaak Walton Inn

The purpose for this trip to Essex, MT, was to take more photographs of the Izaak Walton Inn, and to find out what was new since my 2008 visit.

One thing new is the opening of luxury accommodations in the GN 441.  Owner, Jamie, a former diesel mechanic, gave Don and me a tour of the former Diesel Locomotive.  As their website ( says:
Outside, this historic locomotive represents the Great Northern diesels that once rolled past the Izaak Walton Inn every day.

Inside, it’s a warm, rustic refuge for two couples or a small family, with luxury and amenities unsurpassed anywhere in the Glacier Park area.


GN 441 is 10 feet wide, 15 feet high, 67 feet long, and weighed 195 tons when built.

GN 441 was the first locomotive in 40 years to be painted in Great Northern’s stunning “Big Sky Blue” paint scheme.

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The GN 441 is immediately adjacent to the Izaak Walton Inn.

Jamie Lambrecht, the owner (right), is always happy to show perspective guests the wonderful amenities inside.

The Cab

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Left side of the cab.

Right side of the cab.

You can see the Izaak Walton Inn in the mirror.

The rest of the GN 441 inside

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The kitchen and dining area.

Left side of the Living Room

Right side of the Living Room

Master Bedroom

Artwork on bedrooom wall

Ultra modern Bathroom

Former vents for the diesel engines (above and right)

The GN441 Luxury Locomotive is for 2 to 4 people, with 1 king bed and 1 convertible queen sofa.  Rate for minimum 2-night stay is $598.

Owner, Jamie Lambrecht, says she has been interviewed by TRAINS magazine for the September front cover of their Special Edition that month, and she will have an advertisement on the back cover in June.

Six new cabins at the Izaak Walton Inn

Across the bridge over the tracks from the Inn

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Six cabins are now available for guests

Cabin 40

View from the front entry door

View to the front door.

Master bedroom.

Loft on one end.

Second loft above front door.

Front porch

Uphill from the farthest cabin.

Family Cabins are rented for a 2-night minimum and sleep 4 to 6.  The rate is $460 for 2 nights and $190 per additional nights.

Izaak Walton Inn

290 Izaak Walton Inn Road
Essex, Montana  59916

Open year round.  The Izaak Walton Inn (IWI) provides the perfect opportnity to enjoy Montana's beautiful weather and nature.

Enjoy the mountainsides covered in wildflowers and Mountain Goat in Spring; hiking and Glacier National Park in summer, mountain biking and wildlife viewing in autum.  Summer guests enjoy guided Red Bus "Jammer" tours of Glacier national park, hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and the peaceful quiet while sitting upon the hotel porches.  

The Inn offers 33 charming rooms, 4 caboose cottages and six new family cabins.  Free WiFi is available downstairs in our Flagstop Bar.  A full-ervice dining room, bar, recreation room and laundry facilities help to make your stay a vacation to remember for years to come!

Essex is located on Hwy 2 between East and West Glacier.  Take the Amtrak's Empire Builder to our door!

-- Glacier Park Area Lodging, Explore a million acres of wilderness

East side of the Izaak Walton Inn, where guests arrive.

Facility across parking lot from Inn

Room rates include use of the Sauna

New caboose and Pavillion on east side of parking lot.

At the front desk, Fran or another of the workers will check you in, rent you a car, and give you a detailed mat with annotations for your interests, whether it be wildlife, hiking, cross-country skiing, or, in our case, train photographing.

The Lobby (viewed from the Hotel's desk) has many comfortable seating choices.  WiFi is available in the hotel rooms and public areas.  This area is reserved for conversation between guests.  There is no TV, no phones in the rooms, and no cell service, but conversation between guests is free-flowing, usually about what was seen in the area during the day.  

Gift shop entrance, just off the Lobby.

Interior of the gift shop

Some Blackfeet Indian items are for sale.

View of the Lobby from the fireplace end, front porch out the windows and Dining Car Restaurant at the far end.

Dining Car Restaurant serves Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner from 7:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.  In addition to guests, many guests eat here who are staying in Glacier Park, Whitefish, and other areas nearby.

Stained glass 'Great Northern Railway' window in the Dining Car Restaurant.

Pool table, juke boxes, and a bar, downstairs.

"The Dining Car" Restaurant

Lunch runs from 7.99 to 12.99
Dinner 11.99 (salad) to 25.99 (NY Steak)
Trout 20.99, Huckleberry-Orange Chicken 17.99
Buffalo Meatloaf 16.99

Breakfast 7:30 to 11 - Lunch 11 to 5 - Dinner 5 to 8

Chef Richard, Cook Lance,  Waiters:  JT and Suzette

Izaak Walton Inn Room Types

There are 33 rooms in the Izaak Walton Inn.

West side of the Izaak Walton Inn and GN 441.  Trackside rooms are my favorite.

The trackside porch and swings seem always in use, and a great place, in any weather, to watch trains.

As it used to look

Trackside View from the Dining Car Restaurant.  Pedestrian bridge to the Cabooses and Cabins on the left.

Trackside view from the porch and trackside rooms.

Second floor fire escape view of the Helper Yard.

'Empire Family' Room

Third floor fire escape view.

Third floor hallway.

Photo of Essex Station in hallway

Locomotive in landing window

Great Northern route

(Right) Great Northern locomotive No. 407 on calendar in hallway.  Same Sky Blue color as the GN 441 outside the Inn.

Izaak Walton Inn Room Rates  

High Season June 16 - Sept 30 and Dec 16 - Mar 31 --- Low Season Apr 1 - June 15 and Oct 1 - Dec. 15

Great Northern, 1 queen and 1 twin, Low $138, High $168  Max. 3 people
Empire Builder, 1 queen and 1 twin futon, Low $117, High $147,  2 - 3 people
Empire Family, 2 queens, 1 twin, 1 twin futon, Low $235, High $255, 5 - 6 people

Caboose Cottages

Cabooses are known by color rather than number.

Red Caboose, the closest one to the overpass to the Inn.

View from the patio of the Red Caboose - the best view of any caboose I believe.

Green Caboose and its view (right).

Blue Caboose and its view (right)

Views inside the Blue Caboose

Photograph in the Blue Caboose

Cupola bedroom on one side.

Cupola seating area on opposite side.

Orange "Honeymoon" Caboose

Notice that the cupola is on the end of this caboose.

View from the Orange Caboose

View inside the door, with bathroom at far end.

Cupola chair could be used to veiw either direction

High tech fly swatter provided.

View of the kitchen from the cupola chair

Back half of the Orange Caboose

Caboose Cottages sleep 2 to 4 people.  For two nights, the rate is $460, $160 per additional night.

Summer Tour and Adventure Packages  and Winter Ski Packages are available in each type of room which include:  Room, 2 meals per day and activities selected from:  Glacier Jammer Red Bus Circle Tour, White Water Rafting, Cross-country ski lesson, cross-country ski tour into GNP, and snowshoe tour.

Wedding Packages

We were lucky enough to witness a Saturday Wedding in the Inn's Pavillion, with a unique bride and groom departure on the Westbound Empire Builder.

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The wedding and reception both took place in the Pavillion, and was catered by the Inn.

The guests walked the bride and groom to the train stop.

After boarding the Empire Builder, the train continued on around the curve from the platform and passed the Inn.

Guests and Staff always wave at the passing Empire Builders.

The sightseeing/lounge car passing the Izaak Walton Inn.

The wedding guests returned to the Inn, then drove home.  They blew wooden train whistles as the Bride and Groom left on the train.

After the first day, when we went to East Glacier, West Glacier, and returned to the Inn to rest and find a spot to shoot the evening Empire Builder, I took some more shots around the Inn.

Helper yard, 2 helpers, and tracks for ballast spreader and work train.

The pedestrian bridge to the side of the tracks with the cabins and cabooses.

The bridge has the capacity of 2,400 lbs. The largest thing I've seen cross the bridge is a cart carrying supplies for making up the rooms in the cabins and cabooses.

This explains why you might see golden color in the conifer forests in this area.

From this low position across the tracks from the Inn, I caught some passing freights.

Snow spreaders, or ballast spreaders? in the Essex RR Yard.

The work train returns to Essex.

Heavy equipment on the work train.

Caboose on the work train

A westbound freight

Does this look like a photo from the past?

Perhaps too close!

From a higher location.

Map of the many cross-country skiing trails.

Neat train cutout above the ski trail map.

Deciding I'd found the spot for a later shot of the passing Empire Builder, I returned to the Inn to have dinner and await the 7:31 arrival.


I had recently read in their online Newsletter that the first daffodils were blooming.

Another favorite spot, the trackside porch with 2 swings (right) and hummingbird feeders above and robins in the yard and swallows above.

The folks, from Pasadena and North Carolina, were prepared to board the evening Empire Builder.

The red van heads out to the platform a few minutes before the Empire Builder arrives, so they can flag it down for boarding passengers.

The Moment of Truth.

The sun has already set by the time the westbound Empire Builder stops, but there is plenty of light for photographs of it passing the Inn and the new GN 441.  My goal was to get a new photo of an Amtrak Locomotive and the Inn for their use in advertisements.  We stayed two nights, so we had the opportunity to photograph the Empire Builder on two eastbound stops and two westbound stops, not including the ones we arrived and left on.  At this point, I was glad we were here in mid-May because if the broad-leafed trees had been completely leafed out, these photos (below) wouldn't show the Amtrak logo nor the Locomotive number.  However, I decided this spot was too high, showing too much track between the train and the inn.  I would correct this the next evening with a lower position.

Notice that the red van has already returned from the platform, and the Inn's crew is out waving at the train heading west.

The Inn and waving guests and staff.

Staff members (right) and dining room guests wave goodbye to the Empire Builder.

The Sightseer/Lounge Car passes the Izaak Walton Inn.

The Inn from the Pedestrian Bridge.

With evening temperatures at 40 degrees, between the window and screen makes a nice cooler.

Across the tracks from the Inn, you'll notice the 4 cabooses outlined in lights on the hill.

There is enough light for exposures with a tripod.

One morning I missed the Empire Builder passing the Inn, but caught up with it at the Platform.

Some guests choose to photograph the Empire Builder here at the platform.

Of course it is never a long wait for a passing freight.

Next:  Glacier National Park, East and West Entrances

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