A TRUE MONTANA HERITAGE
AT THE CROSSROADS OF CHANGE FOR GLACIER
Essex, Montana is a small railroad town located 60 miles east of Kalispell Montana, and bordering Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness Area. But at one time, Glacier National Park was supposed to have a south entrance in Essex.
The Addison Miller Company banked on that when they contracted with the Great Northern Railroad to build and operate a hotel and lunchroom on railroad land. However, World War II threw a kink in plans and soon Essex went from future tourism hotspot to a trainyard in a spectacular location.
When completed, the Izaak Walton Inn boasted 29 rooms, ten bathrooms, a spacious lobby, dining room, kitchen with a two-ton cook stove, drying room, store room, and general store. It took twelve carpenters three months to complete.
But it was an oversized inn in an undersized town, which led to losses for the Addison Miller Company. The company held on to the dream until selling to Harry Stowell in 1965 for the low price of $5,000. Only three years later, George A. Walker bought the hotel, and Sid and Millie Goodrich bought it from him in 1973.
By 1982, Larry and Linda Vielleux acquired the hotel, expanded services started by the Goodrich family, and emphasized it as a comfortable brush with the past in which cross-country skiers, hikers, and railroad fans all over the country and Canada can experience the Montana wilderness.
After being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the Inn underwent a major renovation that added bathrooms to every guestroom in 1995.
The Vielleux family owned the hotel until 2006, when the current owners, the Kelly family, purchased it and kept its reputation alive as a unique getaway for railroad buffs, families, and nature lovers.
Hospitality and warmth flow from the hotel, and thousands of guests revel in its serenity where they can disconnect from technology and reconnect to each other.
Essex was once named Walton, named for the Izaak Walton Ranger Station, which in turn was named for the famous English author and angler. With that precedent set, it seemed logical to name the hotel the Izaak Walton Inn.
The Inn maintains its railroad roots, supporting an ambiance of railroad relics and memorabilia. Including the historic cabooses and flagship diesel locomotive converted into beautiful, surprisingly modern cabins.
Much of the interior and exterior of the hotel remain the same today. The Izaak Walton Inn has been nicknamed the “Inn Between,” and has found its own delightful niche in a million acres of wilderness.