Review: ‘Glacier Ghost Stories,’ by Karen Stevens
“Glacier Ghost Stories,” by Karen Stevens, Riverbend Publishing (May 7, 2013), 103 pages, trade paperback.
Karen Stevens (“Haunted Montana,” “More Haunted Montana”) has been collecting Montana ghost stories for thirty years and has been visiting Glacier National Park for forty years. Glacier Ghost Stories brings her passions together in a slim, but informative volume that follows her search for strange and inexplicable events at the park’s historic hotels.
Steven’s book is, in one sense, a reporter’s travelogue: she talks about her investigative trips, the weather, the accommodations, and her interviews with hotel personnel. In the process, she includes a fair amount of park history with details for each hotel: Apgar Village Inn, Belton Chalet, Glacier Park Lodge, Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Prince of Wales Hotel and Sperry Chalet.
Glacier Park Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer. The other hotels are elders in the lodging business as well. The hotels are busy during their short summer seasons. They’re isolated from the world throughout the rest of the year. The schedule and the wild country are, it seems, the perfect recipe for legends, yarns and a long list of things that defy logical explanation.
While they don’t advertise ghosts in travel brochures, hotel managers and long-time employees had a lot to day about things that go bump in the night: people who suddenly disappear, objects that move when nobody’s looking, doors that lock by themselves, music and other sounds from unoccupied rooms, footsteps in the dark. Stevens includes the room numbers where things seem to happen. Take note of these before your next visit.
Glacier Ghost Stories includes legends about Marias Pass, Going-to-the-Sun Road, Two Medicine Valley and the Belly River. In the book’s postscript, Stevens writes that visitors to Glacier and Waterton parks “follow in the footsteps o those who came before us: Native Americans, trappers, hunters, explorers and others whose spirits even today may roam the land they loved so much in life.”
Stevens does not hear about or witness the over-the-top paranormal happenings we associate with Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. She did uncover enough to make us wonder and to look over our shoulders the next time we visit any of the park’s hotels. The book is an engaging portrait from a ghostly point of view.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and four contemporary fantasy novels partially set in Glacier National Park.