Nestled in the heart of Big Sky Country lies a unique and unforgettable experience that will take you on a journey through the rolling hills, vast ranchlands, and breathtaking sunsets of Central Montana. The Charlie Russell Chew Choo, named after the famous western artist Charles M. Russell, has been hosting train rides for 25 years, and offers two unique train experiences: the Montana Dinner Train and the North Pole Adventure Train.
The Montana Dinner Train
The Montana Dinner Train is a four-and-a-half-hour ride that takes you on a scenic tour through vast ranchlands, crosses three historic trestles, and passes through a half-mile-long tunnel, all while being surrounded by the beautiful Central Montana mountains and sunsets. During the journey, you can indulge in a full-course savory brisket dinner, dessert, and a no-host cash bar, while being entertained by local musicians. The VIP Package includes a T-shirt, priority boarding, and a complimentary drink with dinner. Vegetarian options are also available.
The North Pole Adventure
The North Pole Adventure Train, on the other hand, is a one-and-a-half-hour trip, only during the season, that includes Christmas stories, snacks, and a trip to the North Pole. The train operates during the holiday season, with tickets available on fourteen trains.
Both trains board at the Hanover Boarding Station, which is located 10 miles and approximately 20-25 minutes from Main St, Lewistown. Passengers should allow plenty of driving time to reach the loading station.
The Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train is a true Montana experience that offers a unique way to explore the beauty of Big Sky Country. During the 56-mile round-trip journey, you will encounter abundant wildlife, including antelope, eagles, deer, hawks, and coyotes. It is not uncommon to encounter masked bandits who will stage hold-ups during the journey, adding to the excitement of the experience.
The dinner train ride takes place on 1950s vintage stainless steel Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs). These self-powered rail cars weigh approximately 60 tons each and were originally built to run independently of each other. They are now powered by diesel locomotives owned by Central Montana Rail. The Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train made its first run with two leased train cars on July 4, 1994. The Chamber bought the five cars still in use today in 1996.
The train travels on a spur track that was built between 1912-1913, connecting Lewistown and Great Falls through the rough terrain of the upper Missouri River Breaks. The line was fully operational and carrying passengers daily by September of 1914.
The unique experience of the Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train would not be complete without the beautiful backdrop of the island mountain ranges surrounding you on your journey. These mountain ranges and the accompanying views of the vast Judith Basin were the inspiration for many of the paintings done by the famous western artist Charles M. Russell, the namesake of the dinner train.
Train rides are available on scheduled weekends and may also be chartered for special events. Regular or VIP rates are available for both children and adults, check their website for scheduling.
This may be one of our favorite lesser-known Montana experiences. The Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories of Big Sky Country. Whether you opt for the Montana Dinner Train or the North Pole Adventure Train, you will experience the beauty of Central Montana in a unique and unforgettable way.