Going-to-the-Sun Road 75th Anniversary Celebrated June 27, 2008
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Chas Cartwright’s first official public act as superintendent of Glacier National Park will be as Master of Ceremony (MC) for the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) on Friday, June 27 at 2 p.m. Numerous state, tribal and federal officials will be joined by tribal drumming groups and musicians Jack Gladstone, Rob Quist and David Walburn and a number of area residents who attended the original dedication on July 15, 1933, on the lawn near Lake McDonald Lodge.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Earl Old Person, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman James Steele, Jr, Senator Max Baucus and Senator Jon Tester, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Associate Administrator John Baxter and National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Director Mike Snyder are among elected and agency officials who will make formal remarks -along with others -who will join in remembering the 75th anniversary of the road dedication.
Invitations were sent to hundreds of park partners, concessioners, neighbors, retirees, civic leaders, elected officials and other stakeholders. Park officials are currently attempting to locate anybody who attended the dedication in 1933 to invite them to attend Friday’s ceremony. Anyone who attended the 1933 dedication has a family member or knows of others who attended that Logan Pass ceremony, are urged to call the park at 406-888-5839 and leave a voice message with their name and return phone number.
The public is welcome to attend the ceremony and/or join other events and festivities on June 27. In addition to the commemorative ceremony, park concessioners and gateway community businesses are holding special Sun Road themed activities and events at various locations throughout the park and in the gateway communities of St. Mary and West Glacier. For details, go to www.glacierassociation.org.
Parking is very limited at Lake McDonald Lodge. Anyone wishing to attend Friday’s ceremony is strongly urged to park at the Apgar Transit Center (ATC) and ride the free shuttle buses to and from Lake McDonald Lodge. Historic red buses provided by Glacier Park, Inc. and Sun Tours vans will join the park’s new shuttle buses in transporting guests and the general public to Lake McDonald Lodge between 12 Noon and 2 p.m. Shuttles will resume westbound operations at 3:30 p.m. and continue until 6:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will NOT provide other transit services that day. Sun Road shuttle operations begin summer operations on July 3.
Seating at the ceremony will be limited and reserved for invited guests and those needing to sit during the program, therefore; the general public is urged to bring folding chairs that will easily fit at their feet on the shuttle buses.
The 75th anniversary events are being held in late June in order to utilize the park’s new shuttle buses before they begin daily operations on Wednesday, July 3. The ceremony was planned for Logan Pass, the same location of both the Sun Road dedication and the 50th anniversary rededication (July 15, 1983). The late June 2008 date was intended to help reduce impacts on July visitation and summer operations at Logan Pass. However, given higher than average winter snow pack, late spring snowstorms and subsequent avalanche danger, a decision was made a week ago to move the venue.
Cartwright noted, “The Going-to-the-Sun Road played a pivotal role in the design and development of public roads in scenic and culturally significant landscapes throughout our country. The interagency partnership between the NPS and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that began at Glacier -during the building of the Sun Road - continues with the current day Sun Road rehabilitation.” “It is important that we take time to commemorate this milestone and celebrate the vision that helped create this engineering marvel, along with the remarkable workmanship, sacrifices, spirit of partnership and ongoing dedication to the preservation of this treasured ‘landmark to the sky.’”
In the late fall of 1932, after three decades of construction and more than $2,000,000, the first automobile passed over the entire 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The National Park Service (NPS) formally opened the Going-to-the-Sun Road in a special ceremony on July 15, 1933. On that date, the marvel of engineering was officially dedicated during a public ceremony atop Logan Pass and the ‘Transmountain Road’ was officially renamed the Going-to-the-Sun Highway1 after the mountain that bears the name. During that dedication, Glacier National Park’s Superintendent Eivind Scoyen described the Going-to-the-Sun Road as, “The most beautiful piece of mountain road in the world.”
Over 4000 people gathered atop the Continental Divide on that sunny day in 1933 for an afternoon filled with congratulatory speeches extolling the hard work of the previous 20 years. Glacier National Park Superintendent Eivind Scoyen presided over the program and read aloud messages from Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes and National Park Service Director Horace Albright. The chairman of the Montana State Highway Commission delivered a speech honoring the late Stephen Mather. The Civilian Conservation Corps organized a chorus, and the Blackfeet Tribal Band played the Star Spangled Banner. The afternoon ended with a ceremony of peace among the Blackfeet, Flathead and Kootenai tribes.
For additional information about the design and construction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, event updates, view a short 5-minute version of the new NPS/FHWA produced film entitled “Preserving a Landmark in the Sky” and other 75th anniversary information, go to www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsr75th.htm.