By Justin Franz
ESSEX, Mont. — The Izaak Walton Inn, a historic lodge built to house Great Northern Railway laborers near Glacier National Park some eight decades ago, has been sold.
Earlier this week, LOGE Camps, a Washington-based hospitality company purchased the property. The inn and surrounding land had been listed for sale back in March for $17.9 million, but that asking price was later lowered to $13.5 million.
The GN partnered with the Addison Miller Company to build 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. 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. The inn is especially popular with railfans and railroadiana can be found throughout the building.
Officials with LOGE tell Railfan & Railroad they plan to make upgrades to the property, but that they also want to maintain its historic character.
“We want to create a destination where you feel the history, but you also appreciate the updated touches and amenities,” said Slate Olson, head of marketing for the company.