Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe
Stay in a Historic Inn, Three Forks
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s registry of Historic Hotels of America, the 29-room Sacajawea Hotel is a luxurious property restored to meet exacting historical preservation standards.
Built in 1910 when Three Forks was the final stop of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, the hotel’s fortunes rose and fell with the railroad. New owners undertook a complete renovation (including major upgrades and expansions) in 2010. The blend of railroad lore, attention to period detail—including hand-inlaid Arts and Crafts wallpaper—and pampered luxury (plush Italian linens and down comforters, complimentary breakfast in bed, and claw-foot tubs) has made the Sacajawea a popular weekend and special occasion destination for Montanans.
“The atmosphere, craftsmanship, and architecture of a century-old railroad hotel can’t be duplicated in new construction,” says Sacajawea general manager Hillary Folkvord. “Actually, you might think you’ve been transported to the Deep South when you step on our oversize, wraparound porch with its white pillars. That’s the favorite spot for our guests to sit, read, converse, or just watch the everyday happenings in our small Montana town.”
Sleep in a Ghost Town, Virgelle
Virgelle is a restored homestead-era ghost town off the beaten tourist path, yet only eight miles off Highway 87 between Great Falls and Havre. “Most people don’t realize how quiet and how dark the world can be when you’re away from everything,” says Don Sorensen, co-owner of the town’s only remaining businesses: the Virgelle Mercantile and the Missouri River Canoe Company.
The Mercantile is Virgelle’s original 1912 general store building. The first floor and basement are an antiques store. Additional antiques are for sale in the old Virgelle State Bank. The top level of the Mercantile has four boarding house-style guest rooms with shared bath and parlor, and outside are seven rustic cabins. Most are restored or rebuilt homesteader cabins, one is an original sheepherder’s covered wagon, and all share three outhouses and a modern bathroom located in a restored icehouse.
“Some guests use our place as a base for exploring the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument or for river tripping on the Missouri,” adds Sorensen. “Or, you could go on long walks to take in the wide open valley, ranch, and farm views because there’s little, if any, traffic on the roads around here.”
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