The Only in Lewistown Tour
Only have a little bit of time but want to hit Lewistown's most unique attractions? Grab your camera and get ready for an afternoon of photo opps from your trip to the center of the state! You won't find these little gems anywhere else in the world.
Stop 1: Get your tickets for the Charlie Russell Chew Choo dinner train
All aboard the local Charlie Russell Chew Choo dinner train that travels a scenic 56-mile round-trip journey with a plentiful supply of antelope, eagles, deer, hawks and coyotes. Be sure to watch out for the masked bandits — rumor has it that hold-ups can occur when you least expect them! The tour begins northwest of Lewistown and follows the route of the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific railroad to Denton, MT and back again. The train travels on a spur track that was built in 1912-1913 connecting Lewistown and Great Falls.
Train rides are available on scheduled weekends and may also be chartered for special events. Regular or VIP rates are available for both children and adults. Passengers should allow approximately 20 minutes of travel time to reach the loading station. Check out all the details and get your tickets for the next ride!
Stop 2: Snap a pic with the Hanover train trestle from the train scene in Broken Arrow
This trestle (located right next to the Charlie Russell Chew Choo) is the famous site of the climactic train scene from the 1996 box office hit Broken Arrow, starring John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, and ex-football player Howie Long. Some of the more dangerous scenes were filmed here including helicopter action shots, gunfire, high falls, and special effects.
The 150-person crew for Broken Arrow spent six weeks near Lewistown in the summer of 1995 to film the train sequences. Forty miles of track on the privately-owned Central Montana Railroad were used for filming, and the movie company used CMR engines and cars.
If the Charlie Russell dinner train isn't in the books for your weekend, at least swing by this trestle for some glamorous Central Montana photo opps.
Address: Drive 2 miles north of Lewistown and hang a left on Hanover Road. Once you pass a big red barn on your right, you're about 5 minutes away. Stop before you cross the bridge. You won't be able to miss the trestle - it'll be on your left.
Stop 3: The "Exact Center of the State" Stone in the Yogo Inn
As legend has it, when the modern-day Yogo Inn was being built, a stone was found buried below the earth's surface with the state of Montana etched into it. This stone had a note with it that claimed it was located in the EXACT center of the state. Previous to this finding, the exact center of the state was believed to be in one of the local's kitchen sinks. Now understood to be a clever marketing ploy by a handful of devious locals, this "artifact" is displayed for photo opps inside the Yogo Inn lobby. A "Montana's Center" plaque is also located next to the pool inside the Yogo Inn. Be sure to snap a photo here, as there's nothing more impressive than being in the exact center of the city that's smack dab in the middle of a state that's in the exact middle of nowhere.
Address: 211 E Main St, Lewistown, MT 59457
Phone: (406) 535-8721
Stop 4: Buy a Yogo Sapphire for your special someone
There's a type of sapphire, the Yogo sapphire, which is mined in central Montana near Utica. These rare sapphires were discovered in 1894 by prospectors panning for gold and are the only sapphires in the world that come out of the ground blue without being heat-treated. Although rumor has it that Princess Diana's engagement ring was a Yogo, this is probably not true—the stone is much too large and probably came from Sri Lanka.
You can find Yogo sapphires at a handful of shops downtown, including the Moccasin Mountain Art Gallery. If you want to try your hand at finding them in the wild, swing over to Yogo Gulch, about twelve miles to the southwest of Utica. Unfortunately, the major mines in the area are inactive for the most part, and due to the quality of the stones in the area, you’ll need to find someone with mineral rights who will let you work some of their land as most of the areas that produce these valuable gems have been claimed for decades.
Address: Moccasin Mountain Art Gallery, 406 W Main St, Lewistown, MT 59457
Phone: (406) 538-5125
Stop 5: Get up close and personal with a Minuteman Missile at Symmes Park
A solitary deactivated Minuteman Missile is available for the public to view in Symmes Park. The Minuteman was a Cold War-era intercontinental ballistic missile, nestled in a silo and at the ready to respond to an inbound Soviet attack. Fun fact, the Minuteman installation at Malmstrom Air Force Base (just north of Lewistown) was allegedly visited by a UFO in early 1967.
Address: Symmes Park, 150 Ridgelawn Ave, Lewistown, MT 59457
Stop 6: Check out Big Spring Creek through some plexiglass inside the Montana Tavern
When the town was constructed, part of it was built over the creek, which has inspired a handful of locals to float through town, underneath Main Street, in the pitch black. For those of us that hate spiders and rats (also just known as those of us that aren't crazy), you can enjoy Big Spring Creek in the Montana Tavern located on 2nd and Main, the local bar that holds the claim to fame as "the only bar in central Montana that runs over Spring Creek." When you walk in the front entrance of the Tavern, turn left and you'll see that which is raved about: a wooden box with plexiglass on top that, when peered into, allows one to see some muddy water and a few pieces of trash. It's a sweet story, though: the original owner allegedly built the hole so he could fish while he worked...then, according to one local, "people used to come in here after the bar closed and float down the river and steal booze."
While you're there, you may as well grab a drink, and in the spirit of being a true Central Montanan, I'd just do some Jack on the rocks.
Address: 202 W Main St, Lewistown, MT 59457
Phone: (406) 535-3674
Other Things You Might Like
WWII Satellite Airfield
The Lewistown Satellite Airfield was constructed in Lewistown, Montana, during World War II as one of four training facilities for B-17 Flying Fortress crew members and included a storage site for the top secret Norden Bombsight. The Norden Bombsight, a synchronous stabilized bomb-aiming device, was considered fundamental in America's precision bombing doctrine. The extant bombsight storage shelter which housed the bombsight is one of a few known buildings of this type remaining in the United States. With construction complete by 1942, Lewistown was built as a satellite field for Great Falls Air Base. Squadrons were trained in the navigation of the B-17 in addition to receiving gunnery and bombing practice. Once their training was complete, the men were sent to the European front. The airfield was in operation during a 12-month period between 1942 and 1943 and thereafter deactivated.
Lewistown Trail System
The Lewistown Trail System consists of 20 miles of multi-purpose trail winding through the community. The trails are usable year-round. Every few miles, the terrain switches, from paved urban pathways connecting businesses and schools downtown, to the crushed gravel cutting swaths through remarkable natural areas. Whether you choose to walk, hike or bike, the Lewistown Trails present the best of the quintessential Montana vistas of mountains, prairies and farmland.
Blast from the Past
Lewistown's modern history starts around 1874 with the establishment of Camp Lewis. Following that, the area went through a number of changes as the Metis, cattlemen and sheep ranchers, miners, farmers, and the railroad brought new people, cultures, and lifestyles into town. Prior to that, Lewis and Clark made their way through our area. But Central Montana's documented history goes back way farther than that; the Bear Gulch Pictographs date back as early as 1000 CE. Enjoy this one-and-only blast from the past Central Montana adventure.