SANDPOINT, Idaho When Marcia Pilgeram was a girl, she traveled by
train to visit relatives because she was afraid to fly. Now, as
president of Montana Rockies Rail Tours, she’ll happily board a
plane if the flight takes her to another train ride.
Pilgeram knows there are a lot of people who share her passion
for trains, and her company’s success backs up her claim. The tour
company’s business this year is more than double the 2002 figures,
and Pilgeram credits travel agents for much of that growth.
“We’re building awareness among agents and developing
relationships with group tour operators and travel consortia,” said
Pilgeram, who was born near the route traveled by the company’s
Montana Daylight tour train. “We’re educating agents through
manuals and one-on-one contact, and we’re providing collateral
materials and cooperative ads to help with agent marketing
By creating more packages, ground tour add-ons and special-event
trains, the company now offers three times as many itineraries as
Clients can ride the rails from early June to mid-September, but
Pilgeram sees enough demand to expand the season. “My goal is to
operate the train 10 months a year, with two months out for
extensive maintenance,” she said.
Groups of up to 50 people are discovering the Montana Daylight,
said Pilgeram. “We get retirement clubs, church groups, even wine
tasters,” she said. “Families see it as a good way to spend quality
For its signature two-night Montana By Rail tour, the company
offers daytime excursions on restored 1940s and ’50s streamliner
cars, covering 478 miles between Livingston, Mont., and Sandpoint,
Idaho. For clients who want to extend the tour, the company adds
escorted motor-coach trips. For more independent travelers, it adds
packaged self-guided rental car excursions, with detailed
itineraries and documents.
Agents can experience the Montana Daylight firsthand with a 25
to 50 percent discount. The company’s agent manual is available
800-519-7245; www. montanarailtours.com.