Glacier National Park – Howe Ridge Fire

From InciWeb: “Fire behavior increased yesterday yet there was minimal fire growth under smoky skies. The fire is estimated at 2,600 acres. Visibility hampered the CL-215 “Super scoopers” from working on the fire, however the Type I helicopter effectively cooled spot fires slowing the fire’s growth. Ground crews utilized existing trails to create fire breaks, continued to pump water for sprinklers for structure protection, and cooled hot spots at the residences on North Lake McDonald Road. Structure protection continued at remaining buildings at Kelly’s Camp. Fire behavior is expected to be more active today with increased winds and the potential of smoke lifting earlier in the day. The aircraft will extinguish spot fires and cool the head of the fire towards Stanton Mountain. Structure protection is the priority for ground crews and firefighters will continue to mop up hot spots along the North Lake McDonald road. Growth is expected on all sides of the fire today.”

Lake McDonald Lodge, across the lake from the fire, is closed for the season under an evacuation order. Avalanche Campground and Sprague Campground are closed. Going to the Sun Road remains closed from the foot of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. Apgar remains in a “ready” status should changing conditions prompt an evacuation order.

NPS Glacier Photograph

According to the Great Falls Tribune on August 14, “The Howe Ridge fire in Glacier National Park destroyed several private residences as well as historic buildings owned by the National Park Service, the Park Service said Tuesday. Seven private summer residences, a cabin and the main camp house at Kelly’s Camp were consumed in the fire, which blew up Sunday night.”

KPAX TV reported this morning that firefighting efforts will increase as a Type 1 Incident Management Team takes over with additional resources and personnel.

–Malcolm

Glacier loses century-old Sperry Chalet in Sprague Fire – Updated 09/03/17

According to the Incident Information System, “Thursday afternoon at approximately 6:00 pm, the main building at the Sperry Chalet was lost to the Sprague Fire. A highly skilled group of firefighters were staged at the Sperry Chalet over the last week. Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the Chalet. The high winds experienced this afternoon pushed the fire to the east. The firefighters, supported by 3 helicopters, made a valiant stand to save the structure but were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet. The firefighters remain on site, ARE SAFE, and are currently actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures.”

The other structures are a dining room/kitchen, maintenance, and restroom building. 

Nearby Lake McDonald Lodge was closed for the remainder of the season August 29 due to air quality concerns.

One of two back-country chalets built by the Great Northern Railway (now BNSF), Sperry opened in 1914. It featured 17 private rooms. Unlike Granite Park Chalet, Sperry provided linens and meals. The rooms had no heat, water, or electricity. Guests were advised to bring flashlights since candles were not permitted.

Sperry photo

The chalet was listed on the National Register in 1977.

Aftermath:

InciWeb Update: September 3: “Based on recommendations from the Sprague Fire Incident Management Team, Glacier National Park has issued an Evacuation Order effective September 3, 2017 at 10 am for all residents and visitors from the south end of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. This includes the Lake McDonald Lodge, concession housing, Kelly Camp Area, and the Avalanche and Sprague Creek Campgrounds. Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the park. The duration of the evacuation is unknown at this time.”

See FIREFIGHTERS PREPARING FOR THE WORST AT GLACIER PARK’S LAKE MCDONALD LODGE

Fire Map as of September 3:

 

–Malcolm

 

Glacier Park Foundation Creates Historical Orientation Program for Hotel Employees

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 - Barry Campbell photo
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

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.

 

 

Lake McDonald Lodge Celebrates Centennial on June 14th

from the Glacier Park Conservancy:

Glacier National Park Conservancy and Glacier National Park Lodges

McDLake McDonald Lodge will celebrate its centennial on June 14th, 2014.

Get ready for complimentary red bus transportation from the Apgar Visitor Center to Lake McDonald Lodge, historic walking tours, ranger programs, and more! Festivities will begin at 1 pm and end at approximately 9:15 pm.

PROGRAM

12:30 pm-8:00 pm: Complimentary red bus tours will operate on a continuous loop between the Apgar Visitor Center and Lake McDonald Lodge. Visitors are encouraged to park at the Apgar Visitor Center as parking is limited at the lodge.

1:00-2:00 pm: Historic Walking Tours at Lake McDonald Lodge

2:00 – 4:00 pm: Silent Auction for Old Hickory Chair begins – Proceeds benefit Glacier National Park Conservancy

2:00 pm: Opening comments

2:30 pm: Glacier Park Foundation presentation

3:30 pm: Lake McDonald Lodge Dedication

4:00 pm: Old Hickory Chair Silent Auction Winner Announced

5:00-9:00 pm: Dine on your own at Lake McDonald Lodge with centennial themed specials

6:00-8:00 pm: Movies in the auditorium

8:30 pm: Ranger-led evening program on Lake McDonald history in the auditorium

I can’t make the trip from Georgia, but for those of you who live closer, this ought to be a great event.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is a former Glacier National Park hotels seasonal employee and the author of several novels set in the park.

Construction of New Dorm at Lake McDonald Begins

from NPS Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald Lodge - Lee Coursey photo
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Construction has begun on a new dormitory near Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park. The dorm will include a new employee dining facility in the basement and dormitory rooms on the top two levels. Construction of this building near the new Lewis Dormitory is anticipated to be completed by May 2011. Construction started Tuesday, September 28 with excavation of the basement. As part of this project two abandoned dormitories (Hydro and Johnson) will be demolished and removed this fall.

This project is funded by Glacier Park, Inc.(GPI) and Swank Enterprises has been selected as the general contractor. The new employee dining facility will allow the transfer of that function away from its current location at the Lake McDonald Lodge making way for improvements to the working conditions in the main lodge kitchen and further separating guest and employee functions. Employees currently housed in Cobb House and Snyder dormitories will be relocated to this new facility allowing those historic buildings to be renovated as additional visitor lodging including some lower cost economy accommodations.

Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright says “Building this new dormitory will further implement the vision conceptualized and approved in the park’s 2004 Commercial Services Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (CSP/FEIS). This vision includes consolidating employee housing and moving employee housing away from the flood plain, upgrading housing conditions and improving separation of employee and guest functions. Visitor and employee parking will be addressed separately.”

The CSP/FEIS also planned for improving the range of visitor accommodations, improving the sense of arrival to the historic lodge and improving the visitor experience by providing a central, consolidated parking area away from the entry boulevard in the Lake McDonald developed area.

The new dorm is part of a larger concessioner-funded project begun in 2009 which relocated three dormitories from their former location near Snyder Creek to a site adjacent to the new Lewis Dormitory near the Lake McDonald Post Office and Going-to-the-Sun Road. The three buildings were improved to include new bathroom facilities and installation of fire suppression and alarm systems. A new water line and improved detention ponds for storm water were built to support the relocated buildings.

The Lake McDonald Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and Lake McDonald Lodge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Hero's journey novel set in Glacier