September 1, 2014

MONTANA : History - Glacier National Park


History - Glacier National Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

According to archeological evidence, Native Americans first arrived in the Glacier area some 10,000 years ago. The earliest occupants with lineage to current tribes were the Flathead (Salish) and Kootenai, Shoshone, and Cheyenne. The Blackfeet arrived around the beginning of the 18th century and soon dominated the eastern slopes of what later became the park, as well as the Great Plains immediately to the east. The park region provided the Blackfeet shelter from the harsh winter winds of the plains, allowing them to supplement their traditional bison hunts with other game meat. Today, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation borders the park in the east, while the Flathead Indian Reservation is located west and south of the park. When the Blackfeet Reservation was first established in 1855 by the Lame Bull Treaty, it included the eastern area of the current park up to the Continental Divide. To the Blackfeet, the mountains of this area, especially Chief Mountain and the region in the southeast at Two Medicine, were considered the "Backbone of the World" and were frequented during vision quests. In 1895 Chief White Calf of the Blackfeet authorized the sale of the mountain area, some 800,000 acres (3,200 km2), to the U.S. government for $1.5 million, with the understanding that they would maintain usage rights to the land for hunting as long as the ceded stripe will be public land of the United States. This established the current boundary between the park and the reservation.


Mount Grinell and Swiftcurrent Lake at Sunrise, Glacier National Park, Montana


While exploring the Marias River in 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came within 50 miles (80 km) of the area that is now the park. A series of explorations after 1850 helped to shape the understanding of the area that later became the park. In 1885 George Bird Grinnell hired noted explorer (and later well regarded author) James Willard Schultz to guide him on a hunting expedition into what would later become the park. After several more trips to the region, Grinnell became so inspired by the scenery that he spent the next two decades working to establish a national park. In 1901 Grinnell wrote a description of the region in which he referred to it as the "Crown of the Continent". His efforts to protect the land make him the premier contributor to this cause. A few years after Grinnell first visited, Henry L. Stimson and two companions, including a Blackfoot, climbed the steep east face of Chief Mountain in 1892.

In 1891 the Great Northern Railway crossed the Continental Divide at Marias Pass 5,213 feet (1,589 m), which is along the southern boundary of the park. In an effort to stimulate use of the railroad, the Great Northern soon advertised the splendors of the region to the public. The company lobbied the United States Congress. In 1897 the park was designated as a forest preserve. Under the forest designation, mining was still allowed but was not commercially successful. Meanwhile, proponents of protecting the region kept up their efforts. In 1910, under the influence of the Boone and Crockett Club, spearheaded by Club members George Bird Grinnell, Henry L. Stimson, and the railroad, a bill was introduced into the U.S. Congress which redesignated the region from a forest reserve to a national park. This bill was signed into law by President William Howard Taft on May 11, 1910. In 1910 George Bird Grinnell wrote, "This Park, the country owes to the Boone and Crockett Club, whose members discovered the region, suggested it being set aside, caused the bill to be introduced into congress and awakened interest in it all over the country".

From May until August 1910, the forest reserve supervisor, Fremont Nathan Haines, managed the park's resources as the first acting superintendent. In August 1910, William Logan was appointed the park's first superintendent. While the designation of the forest reserve confirmed the traditional usage rights of the Blackfeet, the enabling legislation of the national park does not mention the guarantees to the Native Americans. It is the position of the United States government that with the special designation as a National Park the mountains ceded their multi-purpose public land status and the former rights ceased to exist as it was confirmed by the Court of Claims in 1935. Some Blackfeet held that their traditional usage rights still exist de jure. In the 1890s, armed standoffs were avoided narrowly several times.

The Great Northern Railway, under the supervision of president Louis W. Hill, built a number of hotels and chalets throughout the park in the 1910s to promote tourism. These buildings, constructed and operated by a Great Northern subsidiary called the Glacier Park Company, were modeled on Swiss architecture as part of Hill's plan to portray Glacier as "America's Switzerland". Hill was especially interested in sponsoring artists to come to the park, building tourist lodges that displayed their work. His hotels in the park never made a profit but they attracted thousands of visitors who came via the Great Northern.

Vacationers commonly took pack trips on horseback between the lodges or utilized the seasonal stagecoach routes to gain access to the Many Glacier area in the northeast.

The chalets, built between 1910 and 1913, included Belton, St. Mary, Going-to-the-Sun, Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Sperry, Granite Park, Cut Bank, and Gunsight Lake. The railway also built Glacier Park Lodge, adjacent to the park on its east side, and the Many Glacier Hotel on the east shore of Swiftcurrent Lake. Louis Hill personally selected the sites for all of these buildings, choosing each for their dramatic scenic backdrops and views. Another developer, John Lewis, built the Lewis Glacier Hotel on Lake McDonald in 1913–1914. The Great Northern Railway bought the hotel in 1930 and it was later renamed Lake McDonald Lodge.[24] Some of the chalets were in remote backcountry locations accessible only by trail. Today, only Sperry, Granite Park, and Belton Chalets are still in operation, while a building formerly belonging to Two Medicine Chalet is now Two Medicine Store. The surviving chalet and hotel buildings within the park are now designated as National Historic Landmarks. In total, 350 buildings and structures within the park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including ranger stations, backcountry patrol cabins, fire lookouts, and concession facilities.

After the park was well established and visitors began to rely more on automobiles, work was begun on the 53-mile (85 km) long Going-to-the-Sun Road, completed in 1932. Also known simply as the Sun Road, the road bisects the park and is the only route that ventures deep into the park, going over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, 6,646 feet (2,026 m) at the midway point. The Sun Road is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1985 was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Another route, along the southern boundary between the park and National Forests, is U.S. Route 2, which crosses the Continental Divide at Marias Pass and connects the towns of West Glacier and East Glacier.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal relief agency for young men, played a major role between 1933 and 1942 in developing both Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. CCC projects included reforestation, campground development, trail construction, fire hazard reduction, and fire-fighting work. The increase in motor vehicle traffic through the park during the 1930s resulted in the construction of new concession facilities at Swiftcurrent and Rising Sun, both designed for automobile-based tourism. These early auto camps are now also listed on the National Register.

In 2011, Glacier National Park was depicted on the seventh quarter in the America the Beautiful Quarters series.



Glacier National Park
Montana, U.S.A.

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