Echoes From a Summer Past

August 31, 2013 Posted by: Ranger Amanda

The interaction started out similarly to many that I have while staffing the visitor center desk.  I said "hello," asked 

how their day was going, and invited them to let me know if there was anything I could help them with.  I assisted

Amy* (names have been changed) in choosing an appropriate book for her precocious daughter to read on their

flight home.  Amy asked me if I knew about a cabin on an island near the park headquarters and whether or not it is

still standing.  Her mother lived there for a summer during the 1960s and Amy hoped to visit the cabin.


Unfortunately the tides were too high to walk across the cut onto Lagoon Island where the cabin does in fact still 

stand.  I have explored the island myself and was able to share my photographs with Amy.  Her face lit up with

excitement when she saw them.  She explained to her family that this was the cabin where Grandma Ellen* used to 

live.  Ellen was happy that her family was visiting Glacier Bay, a place she remembers fondly.  Our interaction in the

visitor center ended with a promise to email my pictures of the cabin to Amy.  I thought that was the end of it.


 I sent the email and thought about how interesting it would be to live in the Lagoon Island cabin and paddle to work

every day.  I imagined how nice it would be to have a small island to retreat to after a long day of work.  A few weeks

later I found out what it had been like to live there.  Ellen sent me an email to thank me for sending my pictures.  She

shared with me some of her experiences living there during the summer of 1968.  She worked as a waitress at the

lodge.  Her husband was a naturalist ranger aboard the tour boat the Seacrest.  The couple explored Glacier Bay

on their days off, met notable park visitors, and endured an August with no sunshine and lots of rain.  Ellen

expressed the same enthusiasm and sense of adventure present in park staff today.  Ellen even found some of her 

photographs from her time spent here which she has graciously given me permission to share with you.


Ellen also shared my pictures with her husband Henry*.  His name struck a chord of recognition that I could

not place until I received a letter and a copy of his recent book about the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in Katmai

National Park and Preserve.  Finally the light bulb clicked on and I realized that I recognized his name from research

I had done to create my tour of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes while working at Katmai a few years ago.  I was

amazed by the connections stemming from one seemingly typical interaction with people perusing the visitor center.

As rangers we strive to be helpful and informative.  We hope that we are succeeding at creating positive experiences

for visitors to the parks we work at.  Usually we never find out whether or not we are successful.  Every once in a 

while we get the opportunity to form a deeper connection.


It is truly inspiring to be in contact with people like Amy, Ellen, and Henry.  Henry continues his career with the USGS

sharing his geologic understanding of the world through his research.  Ellen and Amy keep exploring national parks

having just returned from a visit to Yosemite.  Meeting them had deepened my connection to those who came before

me to act as stewards of this place.  It has been a refreshing reminder that you never know who you will meet or 

what ties will connect you.  National parks are places to reflect upon the splendors of the natural world around us

and the roles that we play in that world.  They are also places to give thanks to those who preceded us.  Some days

we get to directly connect with those people.  As Ellen said in her last email, "Isn't it a small world?"

Shared photo 1968

















Lagoon Island cabin 1968

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Last updated: April 14, 2015

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