Guests at Glacier National Park’s historic hotels often ask employees questions about the old lodges, but as years go by and more and more old timers disappear from the scene, that information is no longer common knowledge. To address this fact, the Glacier Park Foundation (GPF), a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the historic hotels, is creating a historical orientation program with handout booklets for employees.
Many Glacier Hotel lobby in 2013 – Barry Campbell photo
The majority of the hotels’ employees are seasonal and, while the mix has changed over the years, they are traditionally college students who work a few summers and then move on to careers in and out of the hospitality field. These employees (bellmen, maids, waiters, housemen, boat crew) generally interact with guests more often than the professional management staff and should be able to make good use of the handbooks.
Author an historian Day Djuff–who worked at the Prince of Wales Hotel–was the lead writer for the foundation’s first two handbooks which were distributed this past summer at Glacier Park Lodge and the Prince of Wales Hotel. Djuff also gave the employee orientations. A GPF director, Djuff is the author of Glacier/Waterton in a Snap and, with Chris Morrison, View With a Room, a well-researched history of the lodges.
The twenty-page handbooks will include information about the hotel’s history, personalities, art and architecture, and stories along with a timeline of notable events.
GPF president John Hagen said that the Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald lodge handbooks should be ready for the 2017 season, with the Swiftcurrent and Rising Sun handbooks ready as early as 2018.
According to Hagen, “Ray Djuff will give the orientation talk at Many Glacier, and Mark Hufstetler (another GPF director, Lake McDonald alum, and a professional historian) will give the talk at Lake McDonald” in 2017.
The hotels are operated by concessionaires selected by the National Park Service. Glacier Park, Inc. and Xanterra’s Glacier National Park Lodges, the park’s primary hospitality companies, have endorsed the GPF project.
Malcolm R. Campbell is a former Many Glacier Hotel bellman and a lifetime member of the Glacier Park Foundation. His article about the 1964 flood at the park appeared the National Park Service’s A View inside Glacier National Park: 100 years, 100 Stories (2009) and in Glacier from the Inside Out: Best Stories from the “Inside Trail,” an anthology edited by Ray Djuff and Chris Morrison (2012). The “Inside Trail” is the foundation’s magazine.