Origin of the Scenic Features of the Glacier National Park
NPS Logo


The scenic features of the Glacier National Park are not due to any extraordinary or cataclysmic event in the geologic history of the region, but primarily to the uplift and overthrust of the mountain rocks upon the plains rocks and secondarily upon the erosion of this uplifted mass by the ordinary action of the weather, streams of water, and streams of ice. With most of these processes, especially those of erosion, the traveler is doubtless familiar, as they are going on to-day in much the same manner as they have been going on for countless ages in the past, not alone in the Glacier Park but all over the world wherever there is a land surface upon which they can operate. The movement of uplift and overthrust is less familiar, but even such movements in the crust of the earth are not altogether unknown at the present time. The San Franciscan earthquake was the result of a slip along an old line of fracture. In most places the movement was only a foot or two and at the maximum it only caused a displacement of 15 feet, but even such small movements might in time, if repeated often enough, produce such striking results as can be seen along the great overthrust fault in Glacier Park.

The wonderful results produced in the park are due simply to a peculiar combination of processes and conditions which in themselves are extremely commonplace to one who has been trained to observe them, but may appear wonderful to the observer who has not given them close study. It is to be hoped that the present paper has made it clear that the workings of nature are not concealed nor mysterious, but that they are simple in the extreme and open to the inspection of all who choose to look about them and study her work at first hand.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>>

Last Updated: —2009