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In This Issue:

Charlie Russell Choo Choo
By Kristin E. Hill

Amid central Montana’s colorful setting of small town living, amber wheat fields, and looming blue and green mountains is one of the Treasure State’s premier evening attractions. Despite its unassuming, down-home location, the Charlie Russell Chew-Choo has garnered international acclaim since its 1994 inception. Today, the combination dinner/scenic train ride sells out most nights, and advance reservations are a must for this nostalgic glimpse into Montana yesteryear.

Named after Montana’s most famous cowboy and western artist, the Charlie Russell Chew-Choo is a three-hour train ride through the heart of a landscape reflected in Russell’s masterpieces. The narrated excursion begins in Lewiston and passes through the railroad towns of Ware, Danvers, and Husac. Three sky-high trestles stretching from 1,300 to 1,900 feet in length rise 150-feet in the air, while a half-mile long tunnel adds another interesting twist to the train ride.

Along the way, guests are treated to a traditional western meal reputed as the best full course prime-rib dinner east of the Rocky Mountains. A professional narrator sheds light on Montana’s intriguing history of outlaws, pioneers, and progress, while those with cameras will surely want to take advantage of the ride’s abundant wildlife sightings. After dinner, live country-western strains of fiddlin’ and guitar pickin’ waft throughout each of the five train cars, and guests may join along in song should the mood strike! Upon reaching the small town of Denton, it’s time for dessert as the train begins its return trip to Lewiston through Montana’s signature wide open spaces. While enjoying the scenery, don’t forget to keep those eyes peeled for masked bandits. Outlaws still roam the area, staking out dinner trains for the perfect heist. Never fear, though. These outlaws are strictly for entertainment value (but imagine life in the early 1900s when they were real)!

Trains run regularly throughout summer and early fall with departures normally at 5 or 6 PM. Nearly 200 people are accommodated on each run, and reservations are recommended at least two weeks in advance to ensure availability. On some days, special themed rides are planned, including cowboy poetry outings and a chokecherry celebration. During December, holiday-oriented trips operate under the name “Polar Run”, and offer a family-oriented event children are sure to love and remember for years to come. Private charters are also available year-round for large groups and organizations.

To locate: From Lewiston, drive 3 miles north on Highway 191. At the junction with Highway 426, bear left and drive 8 miles to the boarding site near Spring Creek Trestle.  

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Museum of the Rockies

Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

When you walk through the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University, you travel through more than four billion years in time. Visitors to one of Montana's top ten tourist destinations experience the Northern Rocky Mountain region and life that emerged upon it from the beginning of time to the present.

Start your travels outside the Taylor Planetarium where a huge wall mural orients you to our place in the universe. Then test your knowledge of space at the interactive “space station.” Your next stop is "Landforms/Lifeforms" where you learn about the geologic formation of this region including the mountain building in Yellowstone, Glacier and Teton National Parks. Spectacular dioramas introduce you to the earliest life forms that lived here and show their fossilized counterparts. There's also a video about the supercontinent Pangea, a pinball game about extinction, and a number of artifacts and activities to touch or try.

Then it's on to the Berger Dinosaur Hall. “One Day 80 Million Years Ago” takes you back in time to the Egg Mountain dinosaur nesting colonies near present-day Choteau, Montana. You meet Maiasaura peeblesorum and her babies and the other animals who lived there, and see skulls of T. rex and Gigantosaurus. You'll also see Torosaurus, whose nine-foot skull was the largest of any dinosaur. Fossils from current research projects are on display on the balcony overlooking the hall, and volunteers in the Bowman Fossil Bank will be happy to answer your questions about fossil preparation techniques. Moving on you encounter “Mammoths and the Great Ice Age”, featuring fossils of animals that lived at least 10,000 years ago.

At your next stop you discover the presence of humans in the Northern Rockies. “Enduring Peoples: Native Cultures of the Northern Rockies and Plains” traces the origins and development of Indians who have occupied Montana and other parts of the region for more than 11,000 years. The reasons fur trappers and white settlers came west and the life styles they carved out for themselves are reflected in “Montana On The Move” in the Paugh History Hall. Historic artifacts, photographic wall murals and pieces from the Museum's extensive textile collection add to your understanding of Montana's past. Here you'll see evidence collected from the only Lewis and Clark campsite to ever be scientifically verified.

The Museum of the Rockies is also home to the world-class Taylor Planetarium. It is the only public planetarium in a three-state region and one of the few with a computer graphics system that can simulate 3-D effects and flight through space. In addition to its main features which change quarterly, the planetarium offers live narrated tours of the night sky, laser shows, and a children's show on Saturday mornings. There's a constantly changing schedule of exhibits, too, so there's always something new to see at the Museum of the Rockies. You can see what's currently showing and what's coming next by logging onto the web site at

Your children will love the Martin Discovery Room, an interactive play area with dinosaurs, pioneers, a play station, earthquake table and a cozy reading nook with a huge plush teddy bear. Everyone will enjoy at stop at the Museum Store, one of the best places in the area for children's activity kits, educational toys, books and unique gifts. During the summer months, you can lunch at the T.rextaurant on the Bair Plaza, where the menu includes Big Mike burgers and Dino nuggets for the kids.

The Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 12:30 to 5 p.m. From mid-June through Labor Day, hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A $9 adult ticket and $6.50 student ticket for children 5-18 (children under 5 are free) gets access to the museum and planetarium. Admission to the museum only is $7 for adults and $4 for children; planetarium shows are $3 and laser shows tickets are $5. For information on current exhibits and programs, call (406) 994-2251 or (406) 994-DINO or check our web site at

The Museum is located on the Montana State University campus at 600 West Kagy Boulevard. The most direct route is via the 19th Street exit from Interstate 90. Travel through Bozeman on 19th Street until you reach the stoplight at Kagy Boulevard; turn left and follow the street signs.

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Butte, MT Trivia

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order Montana Trivia book

Q. In the 1880s when copper king William Clark, the richest person on earth, was earning $17 million a month from his mine holdings, how much were the workers in his mines earning?

A. $3.50 per day.


Q. How many years did wages remain a maximum of $3.50 per day for underground miners in Butte?

A. Around forty years, until they got a raise in 1917 to $5.25 per day.


Q.  How many underground miners were working in Butte in 1917?

A. Around eighteen thousand working in 138 different mines.


Q. What technological advance led to a great need for copper in the 1870s?

A. The development of electricity, which required copper wiring to carry current. A century later, the invention of fiber optic cable for communication and PVC pipe for plumbing led to the collapse of the copper market.


Q. What percentage of the nation’s copper was provided by the mines of Butte in the 1880s?

A. Thirty percent of the nation’s copper, and fifteen percent of the world’s copper.


Q. There are around 250 miles of streets in Butte and how many miles of underground mining tunnels?

A. Over 2,500.


Q. When the carbide lamp of a foreman accidentally started a fire in the Speculator Mine in Butte on June 8, 1917, how many miners died?

A. About 168, making it the worst disaster in metal-mining history.


Q. How many gallons of acid mine wastes and toxic groundwater are added to the Berkeley Pit every day?

A. Five million gallons.


Q. How many migrating snow geese died from drinking the water of the Berkeley Pit while migrating through in 1995?

A. 342— the water turned their snow-white bodies brownish-orange.


Q. What’s the average estimated attendance at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Butte each year?

A. About 30,000 in a town whose total population is about 34,000.

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Click Here to check out the Montana Gift Corral Sale Barn. Over 300 items on sale!

Recipe From
The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook

By Durrae Johanek, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order "The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook" or view other Gift Corral Books

While this Yellowstone cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from such well-known park personas as the wolf project leader, a park ranger, and many others. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. Featuring an eclectic mix of represented styles and cultures, this unique cookbook guarantees you'll find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet on every page.

By Chef Jim Chapman, Old Faithful Inn

His name may not be Emeril or Rachel Ray, but Chef Jim Chapman is by all accounts one of the best chefs west of the Mississippi. After completing his training at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Chapman spent the next 25 years cooking everywhere from New England to Switzerland before accepting Yellowstone's executive chef position. Not only is he in charge of every park restaurant, but he is also responsible for writing menus and creating recipes that keep Yellowstone's dining fare fresh and interesting. Chef Chapman's recipes range from the exotic to down-home, but they all emphasize the use of organic and natural local products.

Already famous for its striking architecture, history, and amazing hospitality, the Old Faithful Inn tops it off with this favorite park menu recipe. Perfect for a quiet family dinner or a night of entertaining, these delicious pork chops are yet another example of Chef Chapman's culinary prowess!

8 5-ounce pork chops
1 1 / 4 cups peanut oil
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1 / 2 tsp. salt
1 / 4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
1 pound shredded cabbage
1 / 4 cup cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Marinate pork chops with 1 cup oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, shallots, salt, and pepper for at least 4 hours. Drain pork chops and grill. While cooking pork chops, heat 1 / 4 cup oil in sauté pan and toast caraway seeds until aromatic; add cabbage and toss until heated. Add vinegar and let steam for 30 seconds. Finish with salt and pepper. Serve cabbage alongside grilled pork chops. Yields 4 portions.

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Featured Montana Products

While Montana is home to numerous legendary attractions, the Treasure State also boasts a few iconic “Montana Product” manufacturers. Among those reputable companies is Big Sky Carvers. In business for over 28 years, this famous Montana company creates everything from distinctive home décor to its beloved bear and moose carvings. With an inventory of more than 2,000 pieces, Big Sky Carvers offers something for everyone, and this month’s Montana Nuggets is pleased to highlight a small sample of their fine craftsmanship.

The Mountains are Calling Picture Frame

Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products

Accented with the John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling, and I must go,” this artfully crafted picture frame from Big Sky Carvers is perfect for displaying Montana and Yellowstone pictures. Approximately 10" wide, 8" tall, and 2" deep.

Bearfoots “Ready or Not” Bookends

Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products

Ready or not, here they come! Montana artist Jeff Fleming designed these fun bear bookends for Big Sky Carvers, and they’re perfect for holding everything from Montana cookbooks to hiking guides. Approximately 6-3/4" tall, 6-1/2" deep, and 9-1/2" wide.

Click Here to check out the Montana Gift Corral Sale Barn. Over 300 items on sale!

Featured Book

Flyfisher’s Guide to Montana

by Chuck Robbins, Wilderness Adventures Press

Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products

Discover some of Montana’s best fly-fishing streams and lakes with this comprehensive guide. Montana author Chuck Robbins presents information on the Treasure State’s rivers, streams, and lakes, including over 70 detailed river and lake maps showing river miles, access sites, boat ramps, campgrounds, and other major features. The book also includes stream facts, hatch charts, fly shop listings, and hub city information for each region of the state. 472 pages with black and white maps and photographs. 6” x 9”. Softcover.

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