After working as a seasonal employee at Glacier National Park in the early 1960s, I went to Colorado for a summer, went to the Netherlands for a summer, and then ended up in the Navy. So most of us who worked at Glacier’s hotels lost track of each other.
But then, M showed up, having searched for something that brought her to this blog where (I’m guessing) she thought, “I think I know this clown.”
She was right. We were hiking partners in Glacier Park because our work schedules synced up so we had the same days off. We’ve slowed down since then, me because of an ankle that won’t work and M because she’s busy yet tries to walk ten miles a week.
It’s been fun reminiscing about the old days and what we’ve done since then and what we’re doing now. We exchanged a few pix, old and new. While I was looking for slides to convert into JPGs to send her, I found a few to upload onto Facebook’s employee and former employee group. Mine are some of the oldest to appear there, not counting historic stuff.
So, I’ve been walking down memory lane and, in the process, and have become a little disoriented since I’m re-reading The Starless Sea.
When I log on to my WordPress dashboard, I see how things are going. Quite often, posts I think will have traction aren’t noticed while silly throw-away posts attract hundreds of readers.
Sometimes, I do a Google search to see if the subject of an old post that suddenly has hundreds of hits has been in the news. This time, it’s my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began. Why are people suddenly reading this old post?
I check the news to see if the hotel burnt down, had a string of murders in the basement, or got sued for not having an elevator in the annex.
As far as I can see from scanning Amazon, no new books have come out about the hotel that might cause people to put it into their search engines for more information.
President Trump isn’t staying there, nor has he unleashed a Tweet Storm about the place.
My publisher hasn’t made a surprise announcement to the press that I’m going to be there to talk about my two novels set in the historic structure.
So, I’ve got nothing. If any of you who went there see this post, I would like to know why you went there.
This is very a perplexing thing for a blogger. Why people read what they read. Lately, I saw that a lot of people arrived on my blog after a search for subject XYZ. So, I wrote a post about XYZ. Nobody read it even though my search terms index kept showing me that people were looking for more information about it.
Sometimes I think the Feds are doing this to make me go crazy to they can put me in a home, a One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest kind of home. Why would they do that, you wonder. My guess is that it’s because my alter ego Jock Stewart has contributed a lot of guest posts on this blog that made fun of the Feds. (Lately, the real news has become so crazy that Stewart couldn’t think of any way to satirize it.)
Okay, let’s pretend the Feds aren’t going it. Maybe some of you are doing it. You probably have a ringleader, some tough guy or badass chick from Chicago who calls the shots. Why would s/he do this? Kicks? Too much free time? A dislike of bloggers? Nurse Ratched withholds their meds unless they click on old blogs of mine to make me wonder why they’re clicking on old blogs of mine.
I’m sure there are other possibilities. The Russians hacked into my blog or maybe the Mafia did it. Or, possibly aliens from a place where no one has gone before.
Like those cop shows where a crime is committed in the middle of a crowded mall where nobody saw nothin’, I strongly suspect nobody knows why everyone’s headed out to that old Many Glacier Hotel post.
Okay, I can play that game, too, because my hacker software knows who you are and what you did. <g>
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.
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.
After working as a student at Glacier Park’s Many Glacier Hotel in the 1960s, I hoped I would end up living in the area and possibly being part of the workforce there over time. While that didn’t pan out, I thought, well, I’ll sell 100000000000000 copies of my novels including the two partly set in the hotel and will be able to fly out to Montana for a visit area year. While that didn’t pan out, I thought I’d go there occasionally and have my memories.
Now, as the National Park Service continues to refurbish the hotel, it has accomplished much in terms of infrastructure that will keep the 1915 hotel alive and well for many years to come. But, I’m not going back again and will let the Many Glacier Hotel of my memories suffice. Why?
I’m not going to rehash the issues here; I covered some of them in NPS to proceed with ill-advised restoration of Many Glacier Hotel Staircase. I believe this action and several less obvious changes are better classified as vandalism rather than preservation–or even restoration. I did not like the changes I saw the last time I was at the hotel. While many upgrades were necessary, changing the look and feel was not. Once the lobby and lake level spaces are gutted by the unfortunate rebuilding of a staircase (that has been gone longer than it was there), I don’t want to see the hotel again.
I have said my piece on this from the perspective of a person who wrote preservation grants and who worked in preservation at the municipal level. Nobody was listening to those of us who felt the changes violated the Interior Department’s own standards. Sentimentality won the day, and those of you who visit Many Glacier Hotel beginning in 2017 will see a new lobby/cafe/giftshop configuration. You might actually like it, and that’s fine because you didn’t grow up seeing it the way it’s been for over 50 years.
I applaud the NPS’ work–and those of many fundraisers–in support of stabilizing the hotel and in dealing with building code issues that are always problematic in older structures. But when the look and feel is altered, the historic nature of the structure is compromised. The hotel stands in (to my biased view) the most beautiful valley in a park that’s my favorite place on the planet. I hope many people will enjoy the Swiftcurrent Valley for years to come. I’ll enjoy it as I remember it as this blog discontinues any future mention of Glacier National Park.
As my father grew older, he stayed away from some places he recalled as childhood favorites because he liked them better as they were than as they became. Perhaps a lot of this are this way. The tide of change and so-called promise is as hard to stop as the incoming tide on a beach. So, sometimes it’s better not to go back to the old familiar places because nobody there knows your name any more and too much of what was familiar has been altered, sometimes in unforgivable ways.
I’m happy I saw the hotel several years ago before the worst of the changes arrived. Do you feel this way about some of the places in your past? Do you worry what you’ll find if you go back for a visit? Do you wonder if it’s best to stay away after friends who still live there tell you about the old buildings that were torn town for parking lots and the parks that were paved over for housing developments or the historic structures that were ruined by misguided efforts?
Or, perhaps these feelings only come to those who are starting to grow old.
When I blogged about the USS Ranger, the Glacier National Park Centennial and the White House Boys (at Florida’s Dozier School), I wasn’t surprised to see lots of folks stopping by to read those posts while the stories behind them were in the news.
Then, when there was suddenly an upsurge of interest in those posts, I often found out I’d missed a news event and people were out looking for information again. So then I updated the posts and even more people read them!
Of course, there are always those posts I write, thinking they’ll be popular and nobody reads them. Shows what I know!
It’s kind of fun trying to figure out why people read what they read. If I knew the answer to that question, I’d probably write more follow-up posts and get some real conversations going in the comments section.
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park. Along with various centennial events, there will be an employee reunion which–sorry to say–I’m not able to attend. Perhaps this is why I’m suddenly getting more hits on my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began.
I figure there must be some Floridians following this blog, or possibly people planning a trip there, because I randomly get slews of hits on some of my “On Location” posts about locations in the panhandle such as Location Settings: The Other Florida, featuring Panacea and St. Teresa. I’ve written a lot about Florida settings and, since most of them are in the panhandle rather than the primary tourist sections of the state, it’s nice to see people stopping by to read them.
Reader interest in old book reviews comes and goes, quite often when the author of a book I reviewed has released something new.
The hits on one post, though, really have me puzzled. The highest readership week after week is going to my June 2013 post The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale. In fact, that post has taken over from the White House Boys as the most-read post in the history of this blog. But why? I have no idea. I like fairy tales, myths, and legends: that’s why I wrote the post. I figured nobody would notice it because fairy tales are not exactly breaking news or high on the list of things that are trending on Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook. If you’re one of the people who read that post, what were you looking for?
This really isn’t a niche blog, though it generally has to do with books, writing and the things that catch my fancy. If the NSA is tracking me here, it probably knows more about this blog than I do, what with the various algorithms around for weighing how much space has been devoted to one subject or another.
Whatever prompts you to stop and read, I appreciate it. Hang in there as I bounce all over the spectrum. I’m working on another hoodoo related book, so that means you might be finding out more about folk magic than you want to know. (I spent the morning researching possum bones, but I think I’ll spare you the details of that.)
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of The Land Between the Rivers, the three-story set of folk tales about Panther, Bird and Bear, the first animals (according to the Seminole creation myth) to walk upon the earth. It’s set in Tate’s Hell Swamp in the Florida Panhandle.
A year ago, I walked into the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel and bought an ice cold mug of Moose Drool. With a name like that, I figured what could possibly go wrong.
It was darned good.
When people asked me what I was drinking, naturally I said “Moose Drool.”
Since most visitors to Glacier Park look for moose but never find them, folks wondered how I got close enough to get the drool into a mug.
“If you ring a bear bell by the light of the moon, a moose will appear,” I said. “Hand it some grass (not pot) to start the drooling process.”
Those who took a sip immediately left the bar and headed out into Swiftcurrent Valley to find their own moose. I left the hotel the next morning before any incident reports were filed with the park rangers.
You brew Moose Drool in Montana but don’t distribute it in faraway Georgia. I see by your business plan, you’re concentrating on your neck of the woods and that makes sense. Meanwhile, I’m stuck sitting here drinking Schlitz. (Not really.)
So, here’s an opportunity for the Big Sky Brewing Company to set up a wonderful promotion. Get a tractor trailer, put your logo all over it, and send it down into Georgia with some guy called Bandit serving as your escort.
Film the whole thing and put it on YouTube. It will go viral. Big Sky will haul in big bucks.
While it may not get me a continuous supply of beer here in northeast Georgia, I’m hoping for a couple of free bottles. Then, next time I’m in the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel, I’ll buy a round of Moose Drool for everyone.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories including “Dream of Crows” which appears in the Lascaux Prize 2014 anthology.
Those who have followed this blog for years know that I worked as a hotel bellman at Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Hotel while in college and that I’ve returned to the park when finances permit.
I suppose many people have a favorite beach, romantic city, mountain range or scenic highway they call my favorite place, and that for reasons they may not be able to explain, are drawn to it time and again.
Glacier is my favorite place, though it hasn’t been easy falling in love with it inasmuch as I live in the Southeast and travel to and from the park in northwestern Montana takes time and/or money. The historic hotels, many of which were constructed by the Great Northern Railway many years ago, are only open between June and September. This means the primary park season is short and room rates are high.
Most people reach the park by car via U. S. Highway 2 or by air via Kalispell which is near the west entrance to the park. Some people fly in via Calgary, Alberta and then visit Jasper, Banff, and Waterton parks in Alberta before driving south past Chief Mountain into Montana to tour Glacier. Glacier is named for its glacier-carved mountains with a geography featuring horn-shaped peaks, narrow aretes, cirque lakes and stair-step valleys. Existing glaciers add glacial flour (finely ground rock) to the water and that makes for turquoise colored lakes.
Due to an ancient thrust-fault, there are places where you’ll see older rock on top of younger rock. Many rock strata are visible throughout the park. If you take a launch trip on Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, St. Mary Lake, Lake McDonald or Two Medicine lake, the guides will point out the rock strata along with glaciers (slowly melting away), waterfalls (a lot, especially early in the summer), primary peaks, wildlife (including grizzly bears), and other points of interest.
If you like hiking, there are 700 miles of trails for you to choose from. My favorite is the Highline Trail which you can use to go from Logan pass on Sun Road to Granite Park Chalet to Many Glacier Hotel on the east side. Many trails remain closed due to snow throughout June, so check with the park service about trail closures if you go early in the summer.
If you have time, take a red bus trip on Sun Road or up to Waterton. These 1936 restored tour buses are fun to ride in and, when the convertible tops are rolled back, give you a great view of the mountains. If your time in the park is short, consider including one bus tour, a launch trip, and scheduling in some time for short hikes around the hotel where you’re staying. Alan Leftridge’s book (shown here) lists the best places to see, grouped by category. It’s a valuable guide for people who only have a day or so for a quick trip.
If you have problems with stairs, you should know that while Many Glacier Hotel has an elevator in the main section, the four floors of rooms in the annex are accessible only by steep stairs. Glacier Park Lodge has no elevators, so try to get a room at ground level. I found the foods served in the main dining rooms of the hotels to be tasty, but overly rich. (Be sure to try at least one of the deserts, drinks or ice creams made with Huckleberries.) If you’re there for a few days, you can venture out to Swiftcurrent if you’re staying at Many Glacier, multiple private restaurants at East Glacier if you’re staying at Glacier Park Lodge, several restaurants at St. Mary if you’re staying at Rising Sun, and a variety of restaurants at Apgar and Kalispell if you’re staying at McDonald Lodge. Bison Creek Ranch a few miles for East Glacier is a favorite of mine for steaks and chicken.
If you’re a light sleeper, take a white noise machine. The walls of these old hotels are thin and the doorways are not tight fitting–you won’t want to hear people talking or snoring in adjoining rooms. WiFi in the hotels is only available in a few areas and is overloaded by multiple guests trying to log on. Cell phone reception is spotty or not available. Take multiple layers of clothes. You may need a jacket at night in August and the wind in the higher elevations can be chilly all through the summer. If you have a small umbrella or a fold-up poncho, take it: rain comes out of nowhere.
Yes, the 2014 season only has about a half a month left to go. Had you been at the park a few days ago, you would have seen a great display of the northern lights. The wind at Logan Pass and elsewhere will be getting noticeably colder. You may see some snow in the higher elevations. If you like to ski or hike with snow shoes, the park is open throughout the Winter.
Glacier is on my mind this month with the release of the new paperback* edition my contemporary fantasy adventure novel which is set in and around Many Glacier Hotel. The reality comes from faithfully including what I remember about the Swiftcurrent Valley, Lake Josephine and the Ptarmigan Tunnel. The fantasy comes from a look-alike universe reached via a portal (which you won’t see from the Lake Josephine Launch) hidden near a shelter lean-to used by hikers. If they only knew how close they were to a very dangerous world–as my young protagonist discovers. He’ll have to learn how to use magic if he wants to make it back to the world of Glacier National Park.
If so, can you find yourself in either of these snapshots of the bellmen banquet in August of 1964 in the Many Glacier Hotel dining room?
I remember we all ordered the most expensive meals on the menu. A friend of the bellmen who owned a well-known Chicago restaurant at the time, ordered multiple bottles of wine and had them delivered to our table.
Maybe it was the wine, or the number of years that have gone by or the fact that we had two sets of twins in the bellmen group that year, but I cannot ID the people in these pictures any more. Oh, well, I do know that I’m the third person back on the left side of the table and that my room mate Marc Miller is the nearest person on the right side of the table.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three novels partially set in Glacier National Park: “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande,” and “Mountain Song.” Click on my name at the end of the post to see my Amazon author’s page.
Lucky short-term tourists and almost all long-term visitors to Glacier National Park learn about the beauty of alpine glow (called alpenglow in many parts of the world). While some mistake sunlight on the mountains at sunrise and sunset as alpine glow, true alpine glow occurs only when the sun is below the horizon. It comes from light that’s reflected by snow, water or ice particles in the atmosphere. There is often a red or purple hue within the glow.
One of my three jobs at Many Glacier Hotel in the park’s Swiftcurrent Valley required me to be on duty by 5 a.m. several days a week. When I walked over the rise that separated the hotel from the dorm, I checked my watch to make sure I wasn’t late because the hotel manager, Ian B. Tippet was always there before dawn. Since he was there, he firmly believed everyone else should be there.
While the light in the manager’s office near the lobby attracted my attention first, those mornings when alpine glow bathed the peaks and turned glaciers and snow patches into shimmering light sources, my early hours job gave me a gift most employees and guests slept through.
When I saw Ian Tippet at the park this fall, we joked when he said, “we always began promptly at 5 a.m., a beautiful time to be awake.” I agreed, but didn’t mention that I looked at his office window before breathing in the sky.
I always wanted to see the alpine glow on Mt. Everest, or even in the Alps where the term originated. However, the mountains of Glacier made many early mornings worth losing sleep over.
People often say they need time to recuperate from their vacations before going back to work. Yeah, my knees and ankles hurt after walking miles and miles between airport gates in order to travel from Georgia to Montana and back. But really, it’s mental relaxation I’m needing. (My brain doesn’t have a automatic transmission, so I have to manually shift from vacation mode to work mode.)
Oh, so we can’t get meals delivered to our table without going to a grocery store first?
Oh, are you telling me there’s no yard crew keeping the flowers happy and the grass green and well-mowed like there was at Glacier Park Lodge?
But, without missing a beat, the credit card bill arrived a few moments after we got home. Naturally, there was nothing in the mail from Hollywood telling me they want to pay me 100 grand to make The Seeker into a blockbuster movie. But the credit card people didn’t waste any time telling me it’s time to fill their collection plate.
As a contemporary fantasy author, I try to keep reality to a minimum, but so far, I haven’t found the right magic formula for limiting the amount of reality in real life.
Oh, so those prescription meds don’t jump into the bottles automatically unless I call them in first and then drive down to the pharmacy and pick them up?
There’s a plus side to work mode reality. Even though work mode includes chores, it’s cheaper than vacation mode. And really, work mode food is gentler on our digestive systems.
I’m glad we could catch a few Montana meals at the Park Cafe, Bison Creek Ranch, Luna’s, and the Whistle Stop cafe because the chefs at both Many Glacier Hotel and Glacier Park Lodge have a preoccupation with overly spicy food. Can’t you put a few plain dinners on the menu to give our stomachs a break?
Since I’m writing this post instead of working, you can tell I’m not completely out of vacation mode. Shifting gears is a work in progress.