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Field Division of Education
History of Glacier National Park
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The Railroad and Boundary Surveys

In 1853 and 1854 the Pacific Railroad surveys foreshadowed the end of the fur trading period. Isaac Stevens, Governor of Washington Territory, directed the surveys in this region. As a result of the surveys, the first documented white entry into the park region was made when Tinkham, in the winter of 1853, crossed the False Marias Pass at the head of Cut Bank Creek from west to east. In 1854 Doty made a trip up the east side of the Rockies, noting Chief Mountain, Chief Mountain Lake, and Bow Lake. On his return he ascended Marias Pass for thirty miles until he could see no mountains ahead on the course of the river, but failed to cross the Pass. In 1835 Stevens negotiated a reservation treaty with the Blackfoot. It is noteworthy that Stevens had no difficulty with the Blackfoot and was in fact materially assisted by them. He was told of the existence of the true Marias Pass and was convinced that a feasible railway pass existed at this point. Doty's failure to cross the pass, while unavoidable, was obviously disappointing to Stevens.

It is of interest that Hugh Monroe was of Steven's party. Whether he went with Tinkham or Doty is not indicated. Monroe was married to a Piegan woman and had lived near the Blackfoot for thirty years. Shultz says Hugh Monroe first camped on lower Chief Mountain or St. Mary's Lake in 1811. As Schultz knew Monroe well, this may have been true. But Monroe's time sense was evidently Indian-like, for he says also that he took Father De Smet there in 1830 and that the Father gave the name of St. Mary to the lakes. This is manifestly impossible as to date. What is possible is that Father De Smet visited the lakes during his trip to the Blackfoot in 1846, although De Smet does not mention it. However, De Smet knew Monroe, met him on several occasions, and in 1850 sent him a very affectionate letter which implies that he had traveled extensively with Monroe. (1:527; 3:946; et seq.) (See: Pacific Railroad Explorations and Surveys, XII:1; 102-185; Schultz; Blackfeet Tales; Smet, Life; Letters & Travel.)

In 1861 the Northwestern Boundary Commission had established a station at the main divide on the 49th parallel, but had not penetrated across the ridge, which at this point is impassable. In 1874 the commission surveying the northern boundary of the United States from the Lake of the Woods to the summit of the Rockies camped on Waterton Lake (which they called Chief Mountain Lake owing to an error in the cartography of the Pacific Railroad surveys). They ran a number of triangulations along the lake, and located a number of the main peaks for a distance of two miles south of the lake, and also calculated their heights. By a circuit through Canadian territory they connected their surveys with those of the Northwest boundary survey on the summit. The map of the boundary survey commission shows the territory to have been opened to some extent. A trading post was located on the Badger River, while the agency was a short distance north of the Teton. A military post, Fort Shaw, was on the Sun River. These were all connected by a wagon road which ran on to the border. (Survey of the Northern Boundary, etc., pages 312;315; 365-366, Map; Grand: Early History of Glacier National Park.)

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