Thursday, February 16, 2012

Traveling in Glacier during the Early Years of the Park

Last week I posted an article about the historic brochures that are now available for viewing on the National Park Service website. This week I wanted to highlight a couple of interesting tidbits I found in the 1920 and 1936 brochures for Glacier National Park that I thought were quite entertaining.

For example, in the 1920 brochure, visitors were told that "Once off the excellent trails in the developed part of the park (meaning, traveling from hotel to chalets, or from chalets to chalets), the trails are little better than the original game trails."

Following along the trails established by and for the chalet system, the brochure states that;

"The average tourist....usually enters at the east entrance, visits the Two Medicine Lakes, and passes on to St. Mary Lake, believed by many travelers the most beautiful lake in the world. After seeing some of the many charms of this region, he passes on to Lake McDermott (now Swiftcurrent Lake), in the Swiftcurrent Valley. The visitor then usually crosses over the famous Gunsight Pass to the west side, where he usually but foolishly contents himself with a visit to beautiful Lake McDonald and leaves by the Belton entrance."

Interestingly, the Two Medicine Valley was considered to be "one of the best known sections of Glacier." Not anymore. For many visitors, Two Medicine is more or less an afterthought.

We also find out that the "Wild animals are more frequent and tamer". Wow, were they used as circus animals in the off season?!

For all of those addicted to your Iphones and Blackberries, you can rest assure that, "Telegrams may be sent to all parts of the world from Belton and Glacier Park. All hotels will send and receive telegrams by telephone connection with these offices."

Speaking of hotels, in 1920 you could get a room at the Many Glacier Hotel, "with bath, including meals, American plan, per day, per person, $6, $7, $8, $9, and $10."

Modern day guests time-traveling back to 1920 definitely won't need to bring their Ipods:

"At all of the principal hotels in the park dancing is provided each evening for the guests, good music being furnished for this purpose. At some of the chalets there is opportunity for impromptu dancing, as phonographs or pianos are provided for furnishing music."

In 1936, the park brochure offers some pretty sound hiking advice:

"The trip should not be ruined by attempting too much. An average of 2 or 3 miles per hour is good hiking time in the rough park country. One thousand feet of climb per hour is satisfactory progress over average trails. In this rugged country, hikes of 15 miles or more should be attempted only by those who are accustomed to long, hard trips."

Pretty reasonable advice, but then the brochure goes on to warn;

"An attempt at mountain climbing or "stunts" should not be made alone unless one is thoroughly acquainted with the nature of Glacier's mountains and weather. Too often "stunts" result in serious body injuries, or even death, as well as much arduous work for rangers and others."

Were they referring to a young Evel Knievel there?

Did not know about this:

"Shelter cabins have been erected by the Government on Indian, Piegan, and Gunsight Passes. They are equipped with flagstone floors, stoves, and a limited supply of fuel wood. They are for the free use of parties overtaken by storm. Mountain etiquette demands that they not be left in a disorderly state, that no more fuel be consumed than is absolutely necessary, and that their privileges and advantages not be abused."

I found this to be quite interesting on a couple different levels:

"Glacier offers exceptional views to delight the photographer. While the scenic attractions are most commonly photographed, the animals, the flowers, and the picturesque Blackfeet Indians provide interesting subjects. Photographic laboratories are maintained at Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, and Glacier Park Hotels, and at Belton village. Expert information regarding exposures and settings is also available at these places."

Under the large heading "IDEAL PLACE TO SEE AMERICAN INDIANS", we have this information:

"Today the Blackfeet on the reservation adjoining the park on the east remain a pitiful but picturesque remnant of their former pride and glory. They have laid aside their former intense hostility to the whites and have reconciled themselves to the fate of irrepressible civilization. Dressed in colorful native costume, a few families of braves greet the park visitor at Glacier Park Station and Hotel. Here they sing, dance, and tell stories of their former greatness. In these are reflected in a measure the dignity, the nobility, the haughtiness, and the savagery of one of the highest and most interesting of aboriginal American peoples."

On the other hand, reading the rules and regulations from the 1936 guide, I was quite amazed by how enlightened the park was with regards to bears, camping, fires, garbage and general conservation issues at that point in time.

If you enjoy going back in time, these brochures are quite entertaining.

Hiking in

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