Cut Bank

Cut Bank is the northernmost stop on the Empire Builder route, and therefore, the northernmost stop of any Amtrak long distance train. Elevation 3,753.

Cut Bank (settled in 1891) is the county seat of Glacier County (formed in 1919). Glacier County was named after Glacier National Park (formed in 1910), which is in the western part of the county; Cut Bank shares the name with Cut Bank Creek, which is a translation of the Blackfeet "Ponakixi" meaning "river that cuts through the white clay banks." The Empire Builder crosses a high quarter-mile long trestle over Cut Bank Creek just west of the city.

The eastbound Empire Builder crosses Cut Bank Creek toward its next stop at Cut Bank.

Cut Bank Creek is the "representative" of the three drainages where water flows off Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park, some 60 miles west of the city of Cut Bank. Triple Divide Peak at 8,020 feet is the hydrological apex of the North American continent, and is the point where two of the principal continental divides of North America converge: The primary Continental Divide of the Americas and the Northern or Laurentian Divide. From no other single point in North America can water flow to three more distant oceans: The Pacific Ocean, west of the Continental Divide; to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean to the north of the Laurentian Divide, and the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean on the east side of the Continental Divide via Atlantic Creek, the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek, Cut Bank Creek past the city of Cut Bank, the Marias River, the Missouri River, and the Mississippi River.

The eastbound Empire Builder at the Camp Disappontment monument between Cut Bank and Browning, with the mountains of Glacier National Park in the background.

Approximately 23 miles west of Cut Bank along Cut Bank Creek is the site of Camp Disappointment, the northernmost campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, July 22-26, 1806. Captain Meriwether Lewis and others were exploring the Marias River and tributaries in an attempt to show that the Missouri River watershed extended north of the 49th parallel in order to claim more land for the United States under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis determined that Cut Bank Creek did indeed rise in the Rocky Mountains to the west rather than to the north, beyond the current U.S.-Canada border. Because of this, he named the place "Camp Disappointment." In 1925, the Great Northern Railway erected a monument along the railroad about 4 miles south of the campsite location along Cut Bank Creek to commemorate Camp Disappointment. The obelisk monument still stands today, and is visible from the eastbound Empire Builder about 15 minutes after leaving Browning eastbound and 20 minutes after departure from Cut Bank westbound. The Cut Bank station served by the Empire Builder is the the northernmost station in North America served by daily trains featuring dining and sleeping car service. (The northernmost city in North America with daily year-round passenger train service - and coach accommodations - is Vancouver, British Columbia).

Cut Bank is home of Montana's largest high school gymnasium. The Willie DeGroot gymnasium on the campus of Cut Bank High School seats 5,500 people - all on retractable seats. The facility is the fifth-largest basketball arena in the state of Montana.