Designed for informal light dining and bar-service, the car was split between these two functions for passengers traveling between Chicago and Seattle. The Olympian Hiawatha used steam, diesel and electric motive power, reaching speeds over 100 miles per hour.
The Montana and its sister cars, including the Milwaukee’s trademark Skytop lounges, were designed by famed mid-century industrial designer Brooks Stevens, also known for the sleek lines and art-deco styling of Harley Davidson motorcycles and Evinrude motors. Stevens can be credited for the Montana’s streamlined exterior, circular and oval windows, curved walls, signature lighting, as well as the dazzling maroon and orange exterior colors.
Upon introduction of new, Super Dome lounges for the Olympian in the mid-1950s, the tap lounges were retired from regular assignments. This car was converted to a business car with a spacious lounge and overnight accommodations, and named Montana. The open back platform was added in the early 1960s.
In this configuration, the car served the Milwaukee Road for more than a decade as a marketing and public relations ambassador across America’s upper tier, between Chicago and the Pacific Coast. Montana hosted large shippers like fruit growers and cattlemen, was on-site to open new freight facilities and other celebrations in the Pacific Northwest, and carried executives and officials in support of business development along the Milwaukee Road.
Following dissolution of the company in the mid-1980s, the car passed into private ownership and ran under varied names including Mount Rainier and Prairie Rose. It subsequently was leased to the Wisconsin Central for executive use and whistle-stop campaigns for Presidents and Governors including George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Tommy Thompson. More recently, the railcar was included in excursions with the Milwaukee Road steam engine 261 out of Minneapolis.
Today, the Montana has been returned to travel “lines west”, owned by a family brought up on the Milwaukee Road. Following a full mechanical overhaul, the car is being restored to its trademark internal style, with rich birch and mahogany woodwork, distinct art-deco detailing, and warm lighting throughout.
Create your own memorable times aboard the Montana. Join one of our planned public excursions or arrange for a private charter. firstname.lastname@example.org 805-338-8132