Many Glacier Hotel
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
------ This was a trip down memory lane, for Bill, and a great lunch out for the two of us. We prowled all over the hotel, a marvel of engineering and construction, built in the early days of the Great Northern Railroad by the Hill family. It was designed to be the ultimate mountain vacation destination - and, in our opinion, still is.
------ Swiftcurrent Lake, in front of the hotel, is not open for personal power boats, although there is a small cruise boat for tourists who might enjoy some time on the water. That boat takes passengers to a dock, you walk over a low ridge, and climb aboard another tour boat to visit Lake Josephine, also closed to private power boats.
MANY GLACIER HOTEL
------ Time is the purview of a geologist. If distance (space) is the stomping ground for astronomers, and hurricanes are meat for meteorologists, well, stand back for the geologist when it comes to time. We banty around millions and billions of years like politicians do dollars. Only now they reckon in trillions, and that's too much for a geologist.
------ However easy it is for me to visualize the tens of millions of years, I ran smack dab into a problem with only 59 years. "Seems like yesterday," goes the old quote from old timers. And now that I am one, I agree.
------ Fifty-nine years ago, young kids in High School saved their money for cars, clothes and if they could swing it, a summer trip to Europe (it was a lot more reasonable in price then). But, as I've said elsewhere, I marched to a different drummer (then and now). It seemed foolish to spend hard-earned money in Europe when most of my classmates couldn't name the states that border the Mississippi River. My interest was to know our country well - to see America first.
------ And that's exactly the slogan that the Great Northern Railroad was pushing to get folks to ride their trains to the west.
------ Well, I saved most of my pennies (earned with a paper route, pin setting in the local bowling alley, running the YMCA pool hall, parking cars at an Audubon sanctuary on weekends, and working school vacations in the back room of the Post Office sorting boxes or letters) and still had barely enough dough to take a train from my home in suburban New York to the Mississippi River to start familiarizing myself with those states). But, serendipity struck. Christmas trees! I could sell Christmas trees, and think of the profit! Location, location, location - ah, but my friends at the YMCA let me use a vacant lot they owned adjacent to the Y building right on main street downtown. I bought a truck load of trees, a bunch of Christmas lights to brighten up the lot, and hired a few friends and went into business. Yep, they sold fast and furious, since I only ordered Grade 1 trees. Soon I had another eighteen-wheeler headed to the lot from Canada piled high with prime trees. By New Years, a rail trip to the Pacific Ocean was in the bank.
------ Now I simply had to plot the route, the places to visit and stay awhile, and the reservations to get there and back. What fun - no Internet then - lots of trips to the library for guide books (and to the post office for the wads of brochures I ordered). Also visits with friends of my parents who were well-traveled. (I had already traveled by car and rail to the West Coast many times during the summers with my folks, in the family car or by train, since they were Californians, and they went 'home' most summers to visit family - but this trip was mine, and I was on my own).
------ The Great Northern Railroad ads lead me to consider Glacier National Park. No one could give me any advice about the place - they had never even heard of it. I read everything possible - bears, big horns, moose, glaciers, lofty mountains - everything to get a young kid, who loved being outdoors surrounded by nature, really fired up.
The Empire Builder, Streamliner from Chicago to Portland (via Glacier National Park)
The Original Empire Builder - Class S-2 4-8-4 Northern
------ Heart pounding, I bought a ticket on the Empire Builder, after connecting first with the Twentieth Century Limited, that classic New York Central ride along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (the Water Level Route, they called it) en route to Chicago's Union Station.
The Twentieth Century Limited, Streamliner From New York City to Chicago
------ And what a rail ride that was. I had a Pullman berth for sleeping. The porter was especially kind to me since I was a solo traveler. I slept on the top bunk of those neat fold-down, curtained berths.
Pullman Car on the Southern Railroad; Mine was the Upper Berth
------ When I arrived in East Glacier station, they switched off a few cars to a siding (including the one I was ticketed on), and that would be home for many days.
------ A jammer (the bright red transport I had seen in the Great Northern ads, and so named because of the noise they made shifting gears) met me in the morning.
A Poster from the '50's; A Refurbished 'Modern' Jammer
------ I rode the jammer to Many Glacier Hotel, at that time the most remote lodge for a traveler in Glacier National Park. Too many experiences to enumerate, but for a young eastern lad on his own what an experience it was. I had selected a room on the fourth floor facing the mountains. This summer, accompanied by El, we rode the old elevator up to the fourth floor - a room in the corner was open for cleaning, I walked in, and like déjà vu, I knew that was the room I was in 59 years ago. The same dormer roof and rock fireplace.
Hey, I Didn't Make my Bed?; and Same Bath Tub - But I Don't Remember the Shower Curtain; View Sure Hasn't Changed
------ In the dining room they didn't want to seat me ("where are your parents - you can't have a table of your own." Had to talk with the manager to convince him (by showing him my reservations and tickets) that I was indeed a fourteen-year-old traveling solo.
I Remember a High Vaulted Wooden Ceiling in the Dining Room, I inquired, "Modernized" They Said
------ Seems like yesterday ... today, fifty-nine years later, I returned with my wife of fifty years and could lead her to all my old haunts at Many Glacier Hotel. Little had changed. It is still the premier mountain vacation lodge in my opinion. The hiking trails, wildlife, accommodations, meals, pleasant staff ... where did those fifty-nine years and that young confident lad go? ...
Looking Across the Years
View From the Balcony; the Lobby; the Most Important Addition in the Past 59 Years
------ As we traveled the exit road from the lodge, we met a bear walking the side of the road. We took a picture of her in the rear vision mirror. What a perfect ending for a nostalgic trip to yesteryear.
(09 - 09)
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