It’s time to try something different – riding the Charlie Russell Chew Choo dinner train.
Five of us board the train about 8 miles out of Lewistown, MT. It’s a mixed crowd with some folks celebrating anniversaries, a few locals showing off Lewistown’s tourism attractions to visitors, travelers coming to the area specifically to ride the dinner train, and then we are joined by a busload of happy Canadians! What a fun bunch they are. They take up one entire rail car.
The train travels towards the small farming community of Denton while we are served a prime rib dinner. A strolling cowboy, complete with guitar, passes through the passenger cars singing favorite tunes. We’re pretty sure the car full of Canadians is trying to kidnap him. Or else they are giving him tips to keep him singing in their car! As we pass certain landmarks, cross a trestle, or travel through a tunnel, we hear the details over the speaker system. It’s a relaxing ride with beautiful scenery.
The trip back is when dessert is served. As we head towards Lewistown, the local Salt Creek Gang slows us down, actually stops the train. These guys can gallop with the best, and their horses are well trained to wait for them after the train comes to a stop. An argument, a shootout, and then they hop on the train. Our dining car got some mighty friendly robbers and we even did some chatting with a couple of the “gang”.
As daylight hours begin to fade on the landscape, we arrive at the boarding area where our cars are parked. The whole train seems to be in a great mood. Everyone had a fun time and an experience they will talk about with friends for quite some time.
The ride lasts about 3 1/2 hours, passes by some amazing countryside and wildlife, and crosses over some very tall trestles. The Charlie Russell Chew Choo runs from mid June through the end of September, usually on Saturday night. In December there are “Polar Runs” and I’ve heard that someone from the North Pole usually appears! Contact the Lewistown Chamber of Commerce for reservations 1-866-912-3980.