Izaak Walton Inn
The Izaak Walton Inn symbolizes the difficulty of keeping the United States’ northernmost transcontinental railroad open during Rocky Mountain winters. Each winter, sixty Great Northern Railway workers were stationed here to clear the rails of snow between Essex and East Glacier. Originally, their days of fighting snow and frequent avalanches ended with a return to abandoned railcars and wall tents, for Essex had only 150 permanent residents and nowhere for the workers to board. After numerous petitions, the Great Northern built this twenty-nine-bedroom structure in 1939, on its standard pattern for a division hotel. Railroad policy called for only a section house at a location other than division point, but the difficult winter maintenance of Marias Pass required changing the rule. The railroad also realized that the hostelry could serve summertime tourists, when fewer railhands needed lodging. Naming it for the renowned English fisherman underlined their intended double use. This Craftsman-style inn has been in continuous use since its construction and, to this day, serves both railroad workers and tourists.