Montana's first railroad began with the entry of the narrow-gauge Utah & Northern in 1880. Union Pacific now uses this route from Idaho to Silver Bow, outside of Butte.
Amtrak's Chicago-Seattle/Portland Ore., "Empire Builder" makes 11 stops along BNSF's Hi Line. The busiest stop is near Glacier Park at Whitefish. BNSF has locomotive shops in Harve and Glendive.
Did you know? There are 20 steam locomotives listed in Montana today, most are on display at various museums around the state. Great Northern Ry 4-8-4 No. 2584 is on display in Harve and 2-8-0 Northern Pacific RR No. 25 is on display at the Civic Center in Butte.
The Montana Rail Line has a shop in Livingston. The MRL has two major grades: Bozeman Pass west of Livingston and Mullan Pass wast of Helena. Both locations require manned helpers locomotives, making for a show that you will not soon forget.
Montana has 3280 route-miles and the oldest running steam locomotive in the state is run on the Alder Gulch Short Line. Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train runs out of Lewiston.
Copper King Express
Beginning in 2006, the Copper King Express scenic excursion train ride brought passenger service back to the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific line for the first time in over 50 years. This excursion train ride offered a 3 hour -52-mile round trip through the scenic Durant Canyon from June through September, where you will mostly see abandoned homesteads and pioneer cemeteries. Vintage 1951 coaches were refurbished to include video monitors to help provide narratives as well as videos images of historical interest. Update: Copper King Express was shut down in 2009.
The Izaak Walton Inn is decorated throughout with railroad memorabilia. View old photos, art and lots of Great Northern Railway posters, schedules and calendars from the past. Adjacent to Glacier National Park and with 2 daily Amtrak Empire Builder stops, the inn also offers abundant year-round photo opportunities and most viewpoints are easy to access as the rail line follows the Flathead River and US Highway 2. There are many pull-offs along the route to stop your car and get fantastic pictures. There are two tunnels, great curves, the summit of Marias Pass and seven avalanche snow sheds to view.
The Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train is a 56 mile round trip train ride that runs about 3 hours over old Milwaukee Road right of way from Kingston Junction to Denton. Enjoy catered prime rib as your dinner train ride travels across 33-span bridges and passes through a 2000-foot tunnel. Scenic train ride features abundant wildlife along the route. Ride also includes an old fashion train robbery. Weekend dinner trains are scheduled from July until the beginning of October.
Historical Museum housed in Fort Missoula depicting the area's history, including the Drummond depot, constructed in 1910 for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific Railroad.Displays include Willamette Locomotive No. 7, a 1923 Shaw-type 70-ton coal burner. It was purchased by the Western Lumber Co and starred in the 1954 film Timberjack. It was moved to the museum in 1989.
The Alder Gulch Short Line is one of only 3 operating 30-in gauge tourist railroads in the US. Steam engine #12, a 1910 Baldwin Works 2-8-0 runs on weekends. Gas powered trains run weekdays during the summer. The three mile round trip train rides run between two former gold mining towns, Virginia City and Nevada City. Tickets include access to the walking tour of more than 100 historic buildings in one of the Old West's best preserved mining towns in Nevada City. Directions.