Briefly Noted: ‘Getting Around in Glacier National Park’ by Mike Butler

Mike Butler, who drove one of Glacier’s iconic red busses some years ago, has put together a compelling book about the park’s transportation history in the “America Through Time” series from Arcadia Publishing. Like most Arcadia authors, Butler has included a wealth of spectacular photographs: definitely a high point of the 128-page book that was released in Febuary.

From the Publisher

“Getting around in Glacier National Park was quite difficult for early travelers seeking to experience its towering mountains, deep glacial valleys, and extensive lakes. With Glacier’s location in the far northwestern corner of Montana, just getting to the park when it was formed in 1910 was a challenge for travelers. To meet this challenge, the Great Northern Railway brought early tourists to this remote location, transporting visitors to its East Glacier and West Glacier stations. From these entry stations, tour buses took passengers to majestic hotels which the Railway built at East Glacier, Many Glacier, and Waterton Lakes. Visitors seeking adventure within the park could then take horseback trips from the hotels to remote chalets, also built by the Railway. Boats plied the waters of Glacier’s lakes, taking tourists to chalets and hiking trails. Over 900 miles of trails were built across the park. Finally, as automobile travel gained in popularity, the magnificent Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass in 1933.”

In his review in the Glacier Park Foundation’s newsletter, Mac Willemssen said, “The book’s chapters describe the development of the railroad, the roads, the boats, the buses, the trails, and the hotels. As such, it’s a great complement to anyone’s Glacier library. It’s very readable and easily puts the reader right in Glacier, whether in a bus, a boat, or on a trail.”

Butler is also the author of five other Arcadia titles: Around the Spanish Peaks; Great Sand Dunes National Park; Southern Colorado: O.T. Davis Collection; Littleton; and High Road to Taos. His brother David is the author of the 2014 Arcadia book Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park.

In the Daily Interlake’s February review, Carol Marino wrote, “Getting Around in Glacier National Park is packed with historical details and over 150 photos of the park’s early years. It offers such rare glimpses into the park’s pictorial history, such as explorer George Bird Grinnell standing on a glacier in 1926 with his wife Elizabeth Grinnell. Both he and James J. Hill played a pivotal role in the establishment of Glacier Park.”

If you love Glacier National Park, this volume is a treasure.

–Malcolm

Glacier Park Hiking -be aware of the dangers before you start

The news that solo hiker Jennifer Coleman was found dead near Glacier Park’s Logan Pass after being reported missing two days earlier comes as a shock and reminds all of us who love the park’s pristine beauty that in spite of visitor overcrowding, the beautiful mountainn world is a a dangerous place.

Wikipedia photo

I made it a policy to never climb alone in the park and, other than two-to-three mile strolls around Many Glacier Hotel, never to hike alone. Too much can go wrong, from illness, to falls, to bears and mountain lions. Even a sprained ankle can put a person down on a seldom-travelled trail with no way to get help where there’s no cellphone service.

Coleman’s death is under investigation. Even the precise location hasn’t been released, though there’s speculation she was hiking along the Highline Trail or the Dragon’s Tail. The highline is filled with hikers, yet if one fell when nobody else was nearby, they might land in an out-of-view spot. The Dragon’s Tail has fewer visitors and this makes hiking alone there more dangerous.

As for Coleman, all we know is that she was near Logan Pass and was apparently hiking or climbing alone. The peace of the mountains and the lure of wondrous views is addictive and hard to resist. So, I cannot fault her solo hiking. I might have done it even though I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains and would probably assume I was imune to the potential dangers.

Matches, maps, bear spray, water, food, and a hiking partner are always the safer way to proceed. We know this, but we don’t always do this.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell has written fiction and nonfiction about Glacier National Park. including the novel “Mountain Song.”

I could’ve been a sheep rancher

When my wife and I moved to Atlanta from North Georgia in 1980, we were having trouble making ends meet. I suggested Montana.

What would I do there, she wondered. I said that I’d hire on at a sheep ranch and/or drive concessionaire busses trucks in Glacier National Park.

She didn’t think either of those jobs sounded like the real me. Plus, she had no intention of living in Montana.

As it turned out, I was writing a book about sheep ranching and had a folder filled with everything one needed to know to get started–or to stay solvent if one had already gotten started. Fortunately, I didn’t become a full-time sheep rancher: the Montana wool business has been in decline for years.

The more one looks into the ranching biz, the more one discovers there’s a lot of down-in-the-muck stuff going on that we never saw on “Fury” or “Bonanza.” I didn’t mention this to my wife.  Plus, Montana’s high range isn’t very hospitable to humans who grew up in the South. My wife already knew this so there was no way I could spin the weather situation.

She didn’t know that ewes, as Bill Stockton tells us, let gravity drop the new-born lambs out on the ground. Or, if that doesn’t work, they spin around and sling them out. This information was not in my wife’s “need to know” classification.

One thing I didn’t know at the beginning was that my wife’s allergic to wool. That much pretty scuttled the sheep rancher “dream.”

Malcolm

Several of my older novels are out of print, but my sheep rancher can still be found in “Mountain Song.” It is the tamest of my sheep books.

Writing about a high-speed chase on a mountain road

Since it’s cold and rainy here in north Georgia, I spent the day writing about a speeding Harley Davidson being chased by a ranger along Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun road. In “real life,” that highway is covered by many feel of snow in February that will take many weeks to plough before the summer season begins in June.

Fortunately, the Google Earth views and the Google Maps street views–as discussed here were taken in the summer. So, what I see looks like this photo:

My keyboard almost has no room on my desk due to the stack of paper maps, guidebooks, and place name guides cluttering up my space. If this were a fictional road or some random road in the middle of nowhere, I might get away with a little artistic license. But Glacier National Park has over three million visitors a year and most of them want to see this road from their cars, from a red bus, or from a park shuttle.

So, there’s no room for mistakes. That’s a bit daunting. On the other hand, I hope the fame and beauty of the setting will help draw people to the novel to be called “Weeping Wall.” Here’s what the real weeping wall looks like, compliments of Wikipedia:

 

If you’re westbound in one of the convertible red tour busses, you’re going to get wet. All of that water comes from snowmelt higher up on the Garden Wall. There’s less of a torrent here late in the summer. Weeping Wall will be the third in my “Mountain Journey’s Series,” following The Sun Singer and Sarabande.

The most difficult task hasn’t really been getting the landmarks right. It’s been getting the background from the earlier novels in the series correct–and then some of the characters also appear in my Kindle novels Mountain Song and At Sea. Co-ordinating all these stories was something I never wanted to face–until now. I think I’ve gone nuts.

But, it’s a fun kind of crazy.

Malcolm

I invite you to enjoy my two earlier novels in the series, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.” Both of them are contemporary fantasies set in Glacier National Park, Montana.

 

Giveaway: ‘Mountain Song’

My Montana novel Mountain Song will be free on Kindle for three days, February 8 through February 10. Previously called The Seeker, the novel is the first of my two David Ward novels. At Sea is the sequel.

Description

David Ward lives in the Montana mountains where his life was impacted by his medicine woman grandmother and his utilitarian grandfather. Anne Hill suffered through childhood abuse and ultimately moved in with her aunt on the edge of a Florida swamp. Their summer romance at a mountain resort hotel surprises both of them. But can they make it last after the initial passion wears off and they return to their college studies far apart from each other especially after an attack on a college street changes Anne forever?

Background

This novel is set in Glacier National Park Montana where I worked for two summers as a resort hotel employee. It’s also set at a fictional Montana sheep ranch and at a real Florida Panhandle swamp. The characters move around a bit, one might say. The mountain on the cover is named Heavy Shield, previously Mt. Wilbur, and can be seen across Swiftcurrent Lake from Many Glacier Hotel on the east side of the park.

You can find information about all of my books on my website.

–Malcolm

MHS PORTRAIT EXHIBIT SHOWS ECLECTIC SLICE OF MONTANANS

Montana Historical Society News Release

The Montana Historical Society’s newest exhibit, Who Speaks to You? Portraits from the Permanent Collection, includes an eclectic mix of paintings, juxtaposed to encourage visitors to look at portraits in a new way.

Portraits can reveal a lot about people and their times, if you know how to look for clues, notes Amanda Streeter Trum, curator of collections at MHS. Examining objects in the artwork, considering the backdrop, and observing the artist’s color palette reveal important information about the subject of the art.

“Experiencing art is a really personal thing; we all bring our unique experiences and opinions that color the way we may or may not interact with the piece in front of us,” Streeter Trum said. “We hope the exhibit will provide visitors an opportunity to see portraits in a different way or discover a new artistic style they enjoy.”

The exhibit opened Sept. 10, and no opening reception was held due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

It includes about 50 portraits of interesting people and pets whose presence has enriched the lives they touched and, in some cases, the larger state of Montana. The artwork is both traditional as well as abstract, Streeter Trum said.

“So many traditional portraits represent only a certain segment of society, often wealthy white men,” she added. “This is a playful exhibit and we want to show an eclectic mix of people and art.”   

The museum–at 225 North Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201– is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

I wish I could visit, but Helena is a bit of a drive from North Georgia. I’ve been a member of MHS since the 1980s, and am happy to say its research department has been very helpful in my research for my Montana Novels.

Malcolm

Always slow getting a book started

Do I have writer’s block? No. Once I decide to write a novel, it takes me nearly forever to get started. I’m jealous of those writers who turn out 10000000 books a year. I need time to think, to gather facts about the location, to make sure the magic within the main character is based on relevant tradition.

Jodi Noordmans on Unsplash

Continue reading “Always slow getting a book started”

‘Mountain Song’ free Oct 15-17

My coming of age novel Mountain Song will be free on Kindle October 15-17, proving that good things can happen in 2020. 

Description

David Ward lives in the Montana mountains where his life was impacted by his medicine woman grandmother and his utilitarian grandfather. Anne Hill suffered through childhood abuse and ultimately moved in with her aunt on the edge of a Florida swamp. Their summer romance at a mountain resort hotel surprises both of them. But can they make it last after the initial passion wears off and they return to their college studies far apart from each other especially after an attack on a college street changes Anne forever?

Vistors to Many Glacier Valley in Glacier National Park will recognize many of the settings, including the old hotel. Visitors to Florida’s Tate’s Hell Forest near Carrabelle on the Gulf Coast will recognize the ambiance of this spooky swamp.

Hope you enjoy the story

Malcolm

Found an old friend I hadn’t seen for 50 years

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.”

One of Glacier’s iconic red buses before they were all retrofitted with automatic transmission. I dislike automatic transmission but applaud the dual-fuel, propane or gasoline, the buses now use.

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.

Malcolm

P.S. I should receive a proof copy of the paperback version of Fate’s Arrows by Saturday. If it looks good, we may be able to release the novel in Kindle and paperback next week.

 

Former Many Glacier Hotel Manager, Ian B. Tippet Dies at 88

Ian B. Tippet, former Many Glacier Hotel manager and a 63-year employee of Glacier Park, Inc. (now named Pursuit) died of natural causes March 9 at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was 88. In addition to serving as the innovative and popular manager of Many Glacier Hotel, Tippet was also the concessioner’s head of personnel. His funeral home obituary can be found here.

I apologize for the delay in posting this information. I have been waiting for a news story about Tippet’s passing to appear in a Montana newspaper such as the Hungry Horse News, The Daily Interlake, or the Flathead Beacon. Apparently, none of them seems to know that he died. I presume his former employer doesn’t know it either for they probably would have issued a news release and caught the media’s attention.

My frustration comes from the fact that people in Northwestern Montana who knew Mr. Tippet and/or who knew of his work on behalf of Many Glacier Hotel’s long-time music programs for guests, should be told that a major participant and leader in the Glacier National Park community has died. Yet, I have no official status as a spokesperson so cannot officially contact the press.

Ian B. Tippet hired me as a Many Glacier Hotel bellman in 1963 and 1964. His expertise got Many Glacier Hotel open on schedule in spite of the devastating Montana flood of 1964. I was part of a skeleton staff that arrived early that summer and got swept up in the clean-up effort while the hotel was cut off from the rest of the world due to a washed-out road. I last saw him in Glacier Park in 2013, the 50th anniversary of my arrival as a seasonal employee. We talked for quite a while in spite of his busy schedule at Glacier Park Lodge that year.

We didn’t agree on everything, but I believe he was Many Glacier Hotel’s best manager, both old school service and new-ideas innovative; I doubt we will ever see anyone with his vision and competence again at any of the park’s concessioners–perhaps forever.

–Malcolm

Finally, some news coverage: https://hungryhorsenews.com/news/2020/mar/18/ian-tippet-longtime-glacier-park-figure-dies/