By Justin Franz
ESSEX, Mont. — The Izaak Walton Inn, a wilderness hotel built by the Great Northern Railway near Montana’s Glacier National Park and a favorite destination for railroad enthusiasts, is for sale. The property was listed earlier this winter with an asking price of $17.9 million.
The GN built the hotel in 1939 so that it could house the many crews needed to keep its main line over Marias Pass open in winter. However, according to local legend, the railroad also believed that a new entrance into Glacier Park would be built at Essex meaning tourists would want to stay there during the summer. World War II shelved the plans for an Essex entrance but in the following decades, the mountain hamlet still became a popular destination for visitors looking to enjoy the wilderness. Even after the railroad sold it to private owners, it occasionally still houses train crews, especially in winter.
Besides the historic hotel, there are a number of cabooses and an EMD F45 that have been converted into cabins on the grounds. Amtrak’s Empire Builder stops near the inn as well.