Man in Glacier
NPS Arrowhead logo

Chapter Five:

All park managers face the dilemma of striking a balance between preservation and use. Within our park concept there can be no question of locking up the wilderness. The wilderness proper serves all park visitors.

Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, 1965

It is the desire of my heart to make this park the most wonderful land in the world.

Superintendent William R. Logan, 1911

(Courtesy of Glacier National Park Historical Collections)

Doubting the man's evasive reply, Ranger Joe Heimes stated that this poacher looked a lot like Joe Cosley. Caught in his illegal camp with furs and traps beside him, the man replied: "Yes, I am, but you're not taking me in. I'm going the other way, up into Canada." Heimes then told Cosley that if he refused to come along he would "beat him out of there with a club." Darkness fell and the two were forced to spend a night at the camp with Cosley "chewing the rag" all night attempting to gain his release from the ranger. After spending the sleepless night. Heimes began to herd Cosley back toward the Belly River Ranger Station. But after progressing only a quarter of a mile, Cosley began running and Ranger Heimes had to chase after and finally tackle him in the heavy brush. Upon convincing the poacher to continue toward the station and after proceeding another quarter of a mile, Cosley turned around and faced Heimes, stating: "This is as far as I'm going." Then the two started scuffling and the ranger managed to bump Cosley's head against a tree and "sort of knocked him coo-coo." Cosley again promised no further opposition, but after another quarter of a mile, he began to run again. When Heimes had tackled and scuffled with the poacher for the third time, he decided to take the laces from his own boots and tie Cosley's hands. Just as he was considering tying both Cosley's feet and hands and packing the man out on a pack horse, two additional rangers arrived to assist in this successful capture.

Joe Cosley
(Courtesy of Glacier National Park Historical Collections)

This classic account of an actual ranger protecting the pristine wilderness of Glacier Park stands out as an example of a major park objective—preservation of the park in a "state of nature." As soon as the area had gained park status, the Federal Government took immediate steps to provide greater protection to the area. Congress appropriated a modest budget, the Interior Department provided a superintendent to replace Forest Service personnel, and Interior supervisors issued guidelines and instructions regarding the operation of this new "playground." But just as miners, settlers, railroaders, and others had invaded the region to exploit its natural resources in the decades preceding the park's establishment, the Interior Department officials, new park administrators, railroad executives, hotel operators, and the public became concerned about "developing" a recreation area, attracting tourists, and using the natural features of Glacier for recreational purposes. The ideal of wilderness preservation conflicted with the realities of "primitive" transportation and living conditions. And conditions which deterred visitors were to be replaced by "attractions" in the form of roads, trails, and hotels. This emphasis toward developing the area would continue through the 1930s, and elements of that attitude remain today.

Congress, in 1910, did not intend Glacier to be an absolute wilderness. The park's organic act provided for a "pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people," and it also permitted continued private land ownership, leased land for summer cottages, continued mining activity, railroad routes, and the harvesting of dead, downed, or diseased timber. Thus, when the Interior Department's newly assigned representative, Major William R. Logan, arrived to administer the region in August of 1910, his title explained his task: "Superintendent of Road and Trail Construction." Logan hoped to embark on a program that would build a new road between Belton and Apgar, establish telephone lines, construct trails, locate sites for future administrative buildings, and generally organize the area for future recreational purposes.

But upon his arrival, Logan faced a horrendous forest fire situation in the park. The fires, which later were estimated to have consumed over a hundred thousand acres of park forests, kept Logan and his assistants away from desired projects and directed their efforts toward the fire emergency. After traveling through the mountains on an inspection trip with Forest Supervisor Roscoe Haines in order to familiarize himself with the region, Logan spent the remainder of the summer directing Federal troops and other fire fighters on conflagrations near the now-immortalized Rampage Mountain, Fire-brand Pass, Debris Creek, Soldier Mountain, and other such places. Government construction activity had to be postponed until the next season.

Logan managed to appoint a small ranger force of six men to remain in the park for that following winter. He appointed a chief ranger, Haney E. Vaught, and placed the other men at various locations around the periphery of the park. Logan then departed for Washington with plans to return in the spring of 1911. These early rangers were directed to prevent poaching, illegal grazing, fires, "defacing of natural features," "obnoxious persons entering," and any other incongruous activities which might endanger the park. One of these rangers, Dan Doody, a homesteader in nearby Nyack Flats, who had hunted, prospected, mined, and settled in these mountains, was typical of these early Federal agents. Doody patrolled the Middle Fork drainages, using his own homestead as a headquarters. Later, because of his recognized hunting abilities, Doody became a park hunter skilled at removing "undesirable" wildlife from the area. Similarly, the other rangers located at Lake Sherburne, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Fish Creek performed their functions directed toward protection.

William R. Logan
William R. Logan took charge of Glacier in August of 1910. Faced with forest fires which covered some one hundred thousand acres, Logan could do little but plan for the future. During the 1911 season, Logan initiated road-building projects, located a ranger headquarters at Fish Creek, and hoped to make Glacier attractive to the visiting public. (Courtesy of Glacier National Park Historical Collections)

By the time Logan boarded the eastbound train at the end of that first hectic summer, he had been able to help evaluate the "needs" of the area and to aid in the formulation of an extensive program for development. This development program, which was the result of Logan's inspection tour with Supervisor Haines, Chief Clerk C. S. Ucker of the Interior Department, and two U.S. Geological Survey employees, Marius Campbell and Robert Marshall, became the government's plan for preserving Glacier, and, more importantly, for making it accessible for tourism. Submitted by Marshall, this two million dollar plan included an extensive road system, numerous trails, signal stations, hotels, and countless other projects. The desire to preserve the park was tempered by a realization that Americans of that day could not be attracted to "primitive" conditions. Late in 1910, Logan wrote that he hoped to "develop the Park as rapidly as possible . . . keeping in mind the future day . . . when the American traveling public will at last realize that the beauties of their own country are unsurpassed anywhere in the world and our national parks will come into their own."

James J. and Louis Hill
James J. Hill and his son Louis viewed the park as worthy of investment and played a significant role in the development of accommodations. Soon after the park bill became law, their, railroad company spent thousands of dollars in the construction of tourist facilities near and within Glacier. Almost all of Glacier's chalets and large hotels date from this initial interest in encouraging visitation. Louis Hill took a particular interest in supervising the construction of Glacier Park and Many Glacier Hotels. The Great Northern also sponsored early road and trail construction on Glacier's east side. (Courtesy of Burlington Northern, Inc.)

Logan advocated a utilitarian philosophy not only because Glacier was "undeveloped" and because Congress made provisions for certain uses, but also because his supervisors, like Ucker, and associates like Marshall and Campbell intended the park to be opened and used. During 1910 and 1911, Logan instructed his rangers to guard against illegal timber cutting, yet he established a sawmill at Fish Creek and anticipated that lumber would soon "rank first among the sources of [park] revenue." He encouraged the Reclamation Service to construct a hydroelectric plant on the park's east side, yet he was outraged when the Great Northern officials suggested a similar project within the area since "it would have a tendency through the hand of man of spoiling the scenic beauty as created by the hand of God." Similarly, he encouraged the investigation of all mining claims to determine their validity, yet he fully expected those people who were legally mining to continue. In his first annual report, Logan recommended that all private land in the park be purchased by the government as soon as possible because park developments would "naturally increase" the value of "these ... holdings"; yet he insured the protection and legal rights of private landowners. When Logan opposed the Great Northern workers who cut timber which had not been selected or marked by park rangers, Interior Department officials informed Logan that he was to permit any cutting which would facilitate hotel construction. Thus, Logan and the superintendents who followed after his death in early 1912 all faced an administrative task which began with a conflicting directive from Congress to use and yet preserve the park. This conflict spurred major construction proposals which ultimately led to building a "playground" rather than a "preserve."

Logan's efforts in 1910 and 1911 to build three miles of road, to extend trails in the region, and to establish a headquarters site, all paled in comparison with the Great Northern Railway's construction efforts. James J. Hill intended to develop Glacier as the "Playground of the Northwest" and make it fully competitive with attractions advertised by his competitors, the Canadian Pacific and Northern Pacific Railways. Louis Hill, son of the famous tycoon, stated in 1911: "The work is so important that I am loath to entrust the development to anybody but myself." Both Hills intended Glacier to be an attraction and would have agreed with Park Service Director Stephen Mather's later statement that: "Scenery is a hollow enjoyment if the tourist starts out after an indigestible breakfast and a fitful sleep on an impossible bed." The wilderness needed improvements to be enjoyed.

Hill's Great Northern began planning and constructing facilities near and in Glacier as soon as President Taft signed the park bill. Louis Hill became the personal supervisor of construction activity in Glacier, but argued that as soon as other businesses could be convinced to invest capital in development, we wish to get out of it and confine ourselves strictly to the business of getting people there."

park lodges
(Courtesy of Burlington Northern, Inc.)

By June of 1910, railroad construction crews began work on a chalet complex at Belton which was completed later that summer. At that same time, the railroad planned hotels, chalets, tent camps, roads, and trails for Glacier's east side. By 1912, Hill managed to purchase one hundred and sixty acres of land on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation at Midvale (now East Glacier Park) and began construction of the Glacier Park Lodge. At a cost of $500,000, the hotel opened for business in 1913 and the railroad continued its construction of trails, "tepee camps," and chalets within the park itself. Rustic log-and-stone chalets provided housing for horse-riding tourists, with each site located a convenient day's horse ride apart. Thus, the adventurous traveler could detrain from the Great Northern at Midvale and walk to the nearby Glacier Park Lodge. Upon securing a horse, he could ride over the new Mount Henry trail to Two Medicine Chalet, the next day he could ride on to Cut Bank Chalet, and the next to St. Mary Chalet, and so on until he arrived back at Midvale or crossed the Continental Divide to board the Great Northern at Belton. Tent camps established at places like Red Eagle and Crossley (now Cosley) Lakes, Fifty Mountain, and Goat Haunt enabled the visitor to see additional areas and experience even more "primitive" accommodations. Horse concessionaires operated from every hotel and chalet in the park, and after 1915, most small guide operations were organized into W. N. Noffsinger's Park Saddle Horse Company. By 1925, the Saddle Horse Company had over a thousand horses, transported some ten thousand people per year over park trails, and claimed to be the largest such operation in the world. The horseback tour through Glacier became the dominant method of seeing the park until Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed in the early 1930s.

train, plane, boat
The first decade of activity in Glacier found visitors transported to the park by railway, airplane, and boat. But using a horse remained the most popular method by which the visitor would tour the park until the 1930s. (Courtesy of Burlington Northern, Inc.)

By 1915, Great Northern travel literature boasted that a "Mammoth Mountain Hotel" at Many Glacier had been completed at a cost of $500,000. This final project in the flurry of initial development activity was built to attract visitors with its expansive "Swiss mountain type architecture," its "forest lobby," and "open campfire," and its "mural canvas, 180 feet long, painted by Medicine Owl and eleven other Blackfeet braves and depicting the history of the Blackfeet nation in its palmy days." The railroad advertisers also listed their three "tepee camps and nine chalet groups scattered throughout the mountains which were described as "veritable mountain villages." With "auto-stage, saddle horse and launch service" providing transportation, the Great Northern informed the American public that Glacier was accessible and that it should "See America First," using the "National Park Line" featuring "Rocky, the Great Northern Goat." In their advertisements the man-made marvels of hotel, chalet, and decoration almost outclassed the wilderness wonders available in the national park.

Park officials seemed pleased that the Great Northern construction efforts were being accomplished and quickly pointed out that visitation to the park was increasing. Superintendent Logan noted that only four thousand persons toured the park in 1911; his successor, Superintendent J. L. Galen, reported over twelve thousand by 1913. The Great Northern construction and a strong and persistent Glacier Park publicity campaign which the railroad promoted certainly contributed to increasing tourism during Glacier's first decade of existence. As early as 1911, park planner R. B. Marshall of the U.S. Geological Survey responded to the problem of how to increase visitation to all the "neglected" national parks. Finding that only one-quarter of one percent of the American public visited any national park in 1911, Marshall argued that the Federal Government had to appropriate more money for improvements, that a new government agency be established to run all of the national parks, and that a free national park magazine be made available to publicize the parks. Marshall then concluded: "I believe that in the improvement of the Glacier National Park which is in all of its virgin beauty and affords a splendid opportunity for the Government to carry out an ideal plan of improvement profiting by its abundant experience in the management of other national parks, the co-operation of the Great Northern Railway should be encouraged to the greatest possible extent." Even Secretary of the Interior Walter L. Fisher decried the lack of visitation and argued that something had to be done to increase public interest in the parks. Fisher added: "We thoroughly appreciate the expenditures which the railroads have made in many instances for the development of the parks." Fisher included the "furnishing of increased facilities" as well as transportation and "publicity they are carrying on." In his examples of cooperation, Fisher went on to encourage park administrators to listen to the "valuable suggestions" which the railroads offered. In Glacier, some of these railroad suggestions included artist colonies, placing bells at mountain passes, building bearfeeding arenas, importing Swiss mountain guides, having wranglers wear gaudy cowboy outfits, and many other "improvements."

(Courtesy of Burlington Northern, Inc.)

So national park officials, both in Glacier and in Washington, applauded the large hotels and other new accommodations in Glacier. Whether increased visitation was essential to a park's survival or whether Congress based the budgets for parks entirely upon their visitation statistics is not clear, but park officials, at the local and national levels believed that growing numbers would produce the lever to gain greater annual appropriations. Certainly each of Glacier's superintendents continually recommended projects which required greater amounts of money, and almost all were intended to attract more people and make their stay more comfortable.


Man in Glacier
©1976, Glacier Natural History Association
buchholtz/chap5.htm — 28-Feb-2006

Copyright © 1976 Glacier Natural History Association. All rights reserved. Material from this edition may not be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the author and publisher.