Great Lodges of the National Parks
Glacier Lodges: Sperry Chalet
There are some interesting stories associated with the last two Chalets in the Great Northern lodging network. Here are a few tidbits worth checking out.
The Other 7 Sisters
There were 9 Chalet complexes built, starting in 1911. All were closed down during WWII, and most never reopened. Some buildings burned, one was leveled by an avalanche. Other Chalets were razed in 1949 because it was less expensive than rehabilitating the decaying structures. The lost sisters were: the Cut Bank, Goat Haunt, Sun Point, St. Mary, Gunsight, and Many Glacier Chalets, and one of the Two-Medicine Chalets (the other was converted into a store). In their prime, several of these Chalets would host 100 to 150 guests a night.
The Heaven's Peak Fire, 1936
On August 18, lightning ignited a fire near Granite Park Chalet. The fire was thought to be in control, but flared up on August 30. As flames neared, the staff at Granite Park Chalet decided to stay, feeling that the fire wouldn't travel over the rocky landscape. The next day, the flames raged closer and a rescue was planned, but the fire cut off all access routes. The staff was trapped. When the fire threatened the wooden roof of the Chalet, the employees carried water-soaked blankets up onto the roof. The strategy worked, and both staff and Chalet survived the fire, which burned all around the Chalet. For more about this fire, see Many Glacier Lodge.
A Horse-Packers Park
In the old days, Glacier was rider-friendly. The only limiting factor was whether a horse could safely negotiate a trail. While the Chalets had a Swiss look, the wranglers who led horse-packing parties over the Rockies were all-American. Wrangler Bruce Jacobs is still "cowboying" after 50 years. Of the familiar route to Sperry Chalet, Jacobs says, "It's gorgeous and spectacular…from our corrals surrounded by cedar forest, through trees about 150 feet high, then above timberline and across a river-twice. The Chalet sits right on the edge of a cliff. One of the most prettiest places you'll see."
Divided Three Ways
Hikers can reach the Continental Divide from both Sperry and Granite Park Chalets. In fact, the Divide bisects the entire Park. By chance, the Hudson Bay Divide intersects with the Continental Divide inside the Park, at Triple Divide Peak (elev. 8,020 feet). This means that Glacier National Park is the only place in the world where a drop of rain could naturally flow into either the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or north to the Hudson Bay.