Essex, Montana [August 1998]

Essex is one of those places you'd probably never heard of, unless you're a railfan (or maybe a Nodic Skiier). With only about thirty residents, and an extreme remoteness (direct dial phones are a very recent arrival) in the middle of a Rocky Mountain pass, Essex is an unknown outside of the railroad community. My first knowledge of the place came from the web, while I was researching places to stay for my first trip to Glacier National Park in 1998.

Boy, did I ever luck out. There is something magical about this place; maybe the scenery, or the people, or the trains. But I was so taken by Essex that I now own a piece of it.

Jim Hill was right. See America First. See Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park exists because of the railroad. Louis Hill, son of James, realized that such a park would draw tourist traffic and increase sales. Nearly a century later, Glacier is still proving Hill's conjecture.

The Izaak Walton Inn was originally built to house the crews of the Great Northern Railway. It now houses skiiers, nature buffs, and railfans alike.

The Helper Yard at Essex houses locomotive pairs, which are used to push trains over Marias Pass. It also houses the section gang, which keeps the rails of the pass in good repair.

During the summer, snowfighting equipment sits idle, awaiting the first blizzard of October.

A westbound manifest rolls through Essex. Note Scalplock Mountain and Rampage Ridge in the distance.
Sunset and Thunderstorm at Essex.


[August 1998][January 1999][December 1999][March 2000][July 2000][December 2000][December 2001][May 2002][December 2002][May 2003][December 2003]