When I was a little ‘little’ I used to travel from Oregon to Montana to visit my grandparents over the Christmas holiday. I remember the first train ride from Portland to Whitefish--I was so small I could fit underneath the train seat in front of me. I slept wrapped in a quilt my grandmother made, and when I arrived in Whitefish, I thought I had arrived at the North Pole. The snow was thick and street lights glistened, making everything sparkle. It felt truly magical.  

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I moved to Missoula shortly after that and by the time I was in high school, I needed to take the train in a different direction. I boarded in Whitefish but this time I rode to Fargo- Moorhead where I auditioned for a music scholarship at one of the colleges there. I didn't think the train ride could be as magical as what I had experienced as a child, Yet the views through Glacier National Park were truly something to behold. 

Empire Builder Train Route

To me, at least, it doesn't come as a surprise then, that TimeOut named the Empire Builder as one of the best train rides in America. This happens to be the route that passes through Montana, the one that I rode as a small child from Portland to Whitefish and later from Whitefish to Fargo, although it continues all the way through Minnesota and to Chicago, and you can start in Seattle, too. 

Empire Builder Train Route

If you want a real sense of what the route is like, this travelogue goes into great detail.

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It's strange to think that trains had such an impact on me growing up in Montana when there are so many more trains and subways on the East Coast, or Chicago. Yet knowing that one of the most beautiful train routes passes through Montana only makes me excited that additional train routes could be coming to our state. 

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Gallery Credit: Ashley

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