Great Northern 441 Luxury Locomotive Lodge

Bringing Montana Indoors

GN 441 is welded in place

GN 441’s traveling days are over. Mark Bachman, Chief Operations Officer of RELCO Locomotives, welds wedges to the rails to lock the wheels in place.

“I used to take care of locomotives before I got in the office,” Bachman related, “but it was a little different feeling, welding something into place. Usually I’m fixing it so it’s a little more nimble going down the rail.”

Unfinished interior of GN 441

This is the blank canvas that confronted Jamie Lambrecht. The task of designing and executing the interior seemed intimidating, but she had a vision. “You’re already inside a locomotive, so there’s no reason for a mechanical interior,” Jamie explained. “I wanted to bring Montana indoors. I was inspired by Montana’s forests, wildlife and mountains.”

Drywall installed inside GN 441

The same scene two weeks later, with the drywall nearing completion. We’re looking forward towards the kitchen; the doorway in the corner leads to the cab.

There was plenty of work to do outside as well: trenching the utilities, pouring concrete slabs, and building the stairs and decking. Building the deck on GN 441
Building the fireplace in GN 441
Stone tile in GN 441's bath

Stonemasons build the fireplace while an electrician wires a light switch. Later a live edge birch mantle will be installed on top of the fireplace, along with a 46 inch LCD television.

At left, the tiles are positioned on the bathroom walls. “I hand picked every stone tile,” Jamie stated. “All of the stone in the bathroom and the fireplace came from Montana.”

Nailing the blue pine ceiling

The blue pine ceiling is nailed into place. Later live-edge trim would be added to enhance the interior’s rustic feel. Jamie said the contractors did beautiful work; “all of them were really enthusiastic about working on the locomotive.”

December 6, 2009, and it’s already 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Up on the roof of GN 441, bundled against the cold, Jamie guides a crane as it places covers over the skylights to protect them from the deep Montana snow. (Photo copyright John Collins.)

Lowering skylight cover onto GN 441
Installing cabinets in GN 441's kitchen

To design the kitchen, Jamie enlisted the help of stores in Fort Worth, Chicago, Minneapolis, Great Falls and Kalispell, Montana. “Every person I approached about this was very intrigued by it,” she noted. She had to finalize the basic layout while GN 441 was still at RELCO so they could put the plumbing in the right places. Jamie allotted space for a full-size refrigerator because “the closest town is 50 miles away. I want to make it easy for people to enjoy an extended stay in the locomotive.”

Varnishing live edge trim in GN 441's living room

The wall accents are ¾ inch thick slices of birch complete with bark, varnished in place. Other accents are cottonwood and pine. “I want to see the inside of trees,” Jamie explained. “I wanted the different trees of Montana, to bring the forest inside.”

Completed living room of GN 441

By New Year’s Day 2010, GN 441’s interior was almost done. “I want people to stay here and not feel as if they were roughing it,” Jamie said. “Here they have all the amenities readily available to them, and they have Montana. You can step outside to Big Sky Country.”


Renovation of Luxury Caboose “J.J.”

All photos copyright Jamie or Tom Lambrecht unless credited otherwise

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