Excursion planned to go from Sandpoint to Thompson Falls

THOMPSON FALLS - Thompson Falls is turning itself into a Wild West stage Sunday to entertain hundreds of tourists who will descend on the town via passenger train for a unique Mother's Day visit.

Train tickets were sold out a month ago in anticipation of the Montana Rockies Rails to Roses train excursion, so the company added an additional passenger car. Seats on that car sold out quickly, too. A total of 450 folks are coming by train to visit, and many more are expected by automobile.

"The response has been wonderful. It's been much better than we anticipated and the company is thrilled," John Field of Montana Rockies Rail Tours based in Sandpoint, Idaho, told the Sanders County Ledger. Adult tickets sold for $99 each.

The tourists on the train excursion are mostly from the Coeur d'Alene-Spokane area. But hundreds more are expected to arrive by car from all over western Montana, said Steve Michaels, president of the Thompson Falls Chamber of Commerce. Michaels said the local Chamber has gone all out to make the day a memorable and entertaining experience for visitors and participants alike.

"People will be dressed in circa 1900 costumes and it should be a lot of fun for both visitors and the locals," he said.

The train departs Sandpoint at 9 a.m. PDT and will pull into Thompson Falls at 12:30 p.m. - just in time for a leisurely lunch. Ten local restaurants are geared up to feed the expected crowds.

Folks will be greeted by Thompson Falls Mayor Louie LaRock, dressed in top hat and tails, plus an assemblage of other Thompson townsfolk - ladies carrying parasols and wearing bonnets, fur traders dressed in furs, lawmen carrying six shooters, and a marching band.

A band of bad guys, dressed as bad guys of course, also will be lurking about and several "shoot-outs" are expected on Main Street during the course of the afternoon. The sheriff and his posse will be on hand to hunt down any outlaws. The local jail/museum will be available to house any wrongdoers apprehended.

Three horse-drawn flower-laden wagons will be used for shuttle service to and from various points of interest. An Indian village, antique car show, wheel-barrow races and a bank robbery are all on the agenda.

The passenger train will depart at 4 p.m., returning to Sandpoint at 5:30 PDT.

"This will truly be something out of the ordinary for Mother's Day," Michaels said.

Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at jstromnes@missoulian.com.

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