“For almost twenty years Glacier has been listening to visitors from all over the country, the world and residents of Montana complaining about the NOISE of helicopter sightseeing tours in the Park. Its time for them to STOP.
“Glacier National Park has been steadfast in their commitment to discontinue overflights since studies in 1999 determined them to be inappropriate, having adverse impact on wildlife, visitors and all the natural sounds. Helicopter noise pollution has no place in an International Peace Park and World Heritage site, abounding in wilderness, serenity, majesty and quiet. Noise has no boundaries and cannot be contained.
“A quagmire of regulations have prevented the protection of the peace and quiet Glacier was known for and for which millions every year travel to experience.. That’s the bad news. What’s the good news? We can help Glacier Park get QUIET!”
I’ve disliked these absurd helicopter overflights from the beginning. The National Park Service doesn’t want them. But so far, the FAA won’t ban them. Meanwhile, the tranquility of the place, the visitor experience, and the natural habitat is compromised by noise.
If you don’t like this either, click on the link above and sign the petition.
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.
The chalet was listed on the National Register in 1977.
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.”
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.
Today’s news release from NPS Glacier National Park notes that restoration work on Many Glacier Hotel is continuing, especially in the annex (officially annex 2) where many rooms will be refurbished; the kind of structural, safety and stabilization that were done in the main annex of the hotel will also be carried out in annex 2. This coming summer, half of the hotel’s rooms will be closed during the project’s completion.
In a separately funded project, the long-removed spiral staircase will be returned (rebuilt) in the hotel’s lobby connecting the main floor with the lake level rooms below.
As I’ve written in my blogs previously, I would have opposed the removal of the staircase in 1957 had I been working there at the time. While many old timers have (rightfully) mourned the loss of that staircase which had been in place in 1915, I firmly believe restoring the staircase now is not only a huge mistake by violates one of the preservation standards of the NPS’ parent Department of Interior.
Why This is a Mistake
The Department of Interior’s preservation standards state that “Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.” This means that you cannot, within preservation best practices, convert a structure to the way it was in an earlier time since it’s ambiance, usage and looks have evolved over time. Buildings evolve, and the lobby without the staircase has more years of history than the lobby with the staircase.
The rebuilt staircase will alter the rooms below. The St. Moritz room stage will be removed, making it impossible to set up musical groups, much less return to the historic summer musical productions that were a long-time and historically significant offering by hotel employees. Ranger Naturalist talks will also be removed from the hotel, because the lake level renovations will remove their Lucerne Room venue when the gift shop is moved from the lobby downstairs.
The gift shop will probably not fare as well in the lake level where it will be out of sight and out of mind.
Others have complained that the staircase will be an open vertical “corridor” that will carry noise and cooking odors from the lake level up into the lobby.
To be consistent with the logic replacing the “historic” staircase, the NPS would also have to replace the former Many Glacier swimming bool and remove the added-on porte cochère at the main lobby entrance that protects car and bus passengers from rain upon arrival. Other smaller-order changes have been made to the hotel since I worked there: I note that the NPS isn’t advocating returning those areas to their original as-built configurations. While I understand the urgent need several years ago to stabilize the hotel’s foundation, taking the historic “kinks” out of the lake-level “stagger alley” hallway was a very non-preservationist in approach. Does NPS plan to restore these kinks?
My comments to the Department of Interior and NPS-Glacier National Park about the park service’s justification for the violation of the standard prohibiting the return of buildings to earlier configurations have received no response. It appears that the NPS has overlooked its own standards in favor of sentimentality.
As a former Many Glacier Hotel employee, I’m done with the hotel because the new eyesore in the lobby will be nothing I want to see. As a former Historic Preservation Commission chairperson and preservation grant writer, I dislike the precedent of this violation of standards. Once the staircase is returned, anything can be returned and that’s a mess I don’t want to contemplate at Glacier National Park or any other unit in the system.
WEST GLACIER, MT. – The National Park Service announced today that it was modifying the terms of a prospectus for the concessions operations at Glacier National Park to reinforce the park’s intention to retain the operation of the entire fleet of red buses while providing safe, informative and memorable experiences for Glacier National Park visitors.
These modifications supersede original plans to retire half of the red bus fleet, replacing them with modern equipment.
Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, “We love the red buses and our intent has been to retain this iconic symbol of the park.”
Changes to the prospectus clarify how maintenance and rehabilitation of the bus fleet will occur. The newly selected concessioner will be responsible for the management and upkeep of the red buses. The National Park Service owns all
the existing 33 historic red buses in the fleet. Through the terms of the pending concessions contract, the National Park Service intends to monitor the condition of the red buses and rehabilitate the buses as needed over the course of the 16-year contract. Hall said that modifications of the prospectus for the new concessions contract are being developed to clarify those requirements. The modifications to the prospectus will be posted on the agency’s commercial services website at http://www.concessions.nps.gov/prospectuses.htm in mid-February.
Hall said, “We appreciate the advocacy for the red buses by the Glacier Park Foundation and others, and their dedication to preserving the fleet of 33 iconic and historic buses.”
As the historic buses age, rehabilitation work is required to keep the fleet safe and operational. The buses have 1930s–era bodies adapted to modern chassis. It is recognized that the required custom rehabilitation work on the buses will be very expensive.
A complete and custom restoration of the buses was last completed in 2002 with the generous assistance of the Ford Motor Company through the National Park Foundation. At that time the cost for the rehabilitation of the buses was more than $6 million dollars.
Hall said, “We want to maintain and continue the tradition of the iconic red buses on the road in Glacier National Park.”
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy adventure novels, including “The Seeker” and “The Sun Singer,” both of which are set in Glacier National Park.
The National Park Service is seeking tenders for a concessioner to operate its facilities in Glacier National Park. The proposed concession contract would see 18 of the 33 Red buses decommissioned and replaced with new vehicles. This decision was made without any consultation with the public.
The Glacier Park Foundation wants to see the Red bus fleet remain intact. Bidding for the concession closes March 14. The foundation urges all its members and fans of Glacier to raise their voices in any manner they can, including contacting the National Park Service, and Montana state and federal officials. Let them know you oppose any breakup of the Red bus fleet and are requesting a delay in the concession contract process until the matter has been aired in public.
I agree with the Foundation’s suggestion that the contract process should be put on hold until the public is fully informed about the rationale behind the plan as well as the other alternatives available. If you agree, please let the Park Service and your Senators and Representatives know of your concerns.