Great Lodges of the National Parks
Glacier Lodges: Glacier Park Lodge
Glacier National Park and the Glacier Park Lodge have a special relationship and longstanding history. Both the Park and the Lodge are rich sources of special memories, tall tales, and curious stories. Explore a few here.
No Stone Unturned
The New York Times claimed, "Next to Col. Roosevelt, L.W. Hill is about the best advertising man in the United States." Hill used every possible device to promote his lodges, including moving pictures, wall calendars, playing cards, a lecture bureau, and a special train car with a public exhibit. In the first year after Glacier Park Lodge opened, the cost of Hill's promotions exceeded $300,000.
Dishing the Dirt
All Great Northern lodges worked cooperatively, but employees' pride for "their" lodges led to many friendly competitions and various antics. In one old story, the gardeners at Glacier Park contacted Many Glacier, requesting several sacks of bat guano for use as fertilizer. The employee saddled with the chore of collecting the dung was loath to enter the bat-infested attic. So he simply filled several sacks with plain, wet dirt. The gardeners never complained, and the deception became part of lodge lore.
Bad Roads, Big Problems
The Great Northern needed to transport guests between lodges, but it was an expensive business from the start. One 34-mile stretch of road cost the Railway $68,000. Weather quickly eroded the rudimentary roads, and stagecoaches were often mired in deep ruts and mud. The early transportation system was so unreliable that in the summer of 1913, Hill's own family was forced to walk from the depot to the Hotel during a drenching rain.
Odds & Ends
- Back when it wasn't illegal to pick Park flowers, every waitress had to furnish fresh bouquets for her tables.
- The Great Northern's mascot, Rocky the Goat, first appeared in 1921, a full 6 years after the Glacier Park Hotel opened.
- Even though Louis Hill was synonymous with Glacier National Park for decades, no glacier, valley, creek or other natural feature bears his name.
A Tough Job, Except for the Scenery
Most lodge employees were young, and wages were very low. Typically, employees worked every day from the season's start to finish. Rules and discipline were strict. Fortunately, work hours were peculiar enough to allow for some breaks in the day. Hikes and picnics were common events. And the camaraderie of employees was renowned. Overall, it can't have been too bad, because many people came back year after year.
The Lodge Bowl
During the 1960s, employees of Glacier Park Lodge and Many Glacier Lodge held an annual flag-football competition. A bellmen from Many Glacier can still recall the nightly football practices on the asphalt parking lot. Both sides regularly brought in "ringers" from other Park facilities. Team spirit ran high – a popular Many Glacier cheer was "GPL Go To Hell!" Quite a sight for Lodge guests.