Great Lodges of the National Parks
Glacier Lodges: Many Glacier
Like all the landmark buildings in Glacier National Park, "Many" is the source of several curious facts, local legends and wonderful anecdotes. Explore a few of the finest here.
Countless influential and famous guests have stayed at the Many Glacier Hotel, but one stands out. In the summer of 1924, millionaire John D. Rockefeller, and his entourage, enjoyed an extended stay at the Hotel. His party required most of the rooms on the first floor. Apparently he was upset by the fact that bathrooms were "en suite," serving the two guest rooms on either side. So he told the manager, A.J. Binder, that a rebate of a dollar per room was expected. Binder politely but firmly refused. So Rockefeller went over Binder's head, and got his rebate from the Great Northern's general manager.
The Many Glacier Hotel Anthem
The "Many" was renowned for employee musicales. One of the more enduring songs was the unofficial anthem of the Hotel, which was sung to the tune of "Far Above Cayuga's Waters."
Hail to thee, O Many Glacier, in the mountains tall,
Nestled in Swiftcurrent Valley, hear the echoes call.
Gould and Allen and Mount Wilbur stand in majesty;
In our hearts, O Many Glacier, you will always be.
After the repeal of Prohibition, a bar was opened on the Hotel's lower level. Legend claims that the Park's horse wranglers liked to drink their pay in the bar until it closed at midnight. Then the drunken cowboys wouldn't bother climbing the stairs to the lobby. Instead, they stumbled back to their bunkhouse via the shortest route, the Lake Level hallway, disturbing sleepers as they staggered along. But the alcohol may not have caused their wayward steps. A 2001 restoration project revealed that the hallway's crumbling foundation had caused a very uneven floor.
A Powerful Deterrent
Before WWII, the Many Glacier hydropower plant provided the only electricity in Swiftcurrent Valley. The plant was situated about a quarter mile downstream from the lake outlet, and the operators were housed near the Hotel. The plant was manned continuously. At the midnight shift change, the homeward-bound operator would carry along the big 25-pound wrench that was used to adjust the plant's turbines. When he met the operator heading toward the plant, he'd hand over the wrench. Why the odd behavior? Apparently the heavy wrench provided a sense of security on the dark trail that passed through an area known for its bears.
The Jammers' Manual
In late 1936, a Drivers' Manual was developed for the jammers. The 200-page book was designed to give drivers some education about the Park and its history. Up to that point in time, the jammers were infamous for giving tourists false information rather than admitting to being stumped. The book was composed with the assistance of the Park's superintendent, and George Ruhle, a renowned Ranger and interpretive guide.
A Master of "Many"
One of the most colorful and beloved figures among the Many Glacier employees was Ray Kinley. He first arrived in Swiftcurrent Valley in 1919, and started working as a fishing guide. In 1922, Kinley was hired at the Hotel, where he continued to work at a variety of jobs until 1977, when he retired at the age of 86. Even in his 80s, Kinley was still rowing tourists around the lake and performing heavy labor as the Hotel's gardener. What makes this truly notable is that Kinley only had one arm.
The Flood of '64
In June of 1964, heavy rains dissolved the Park's snow packs, and torrents of water rushed into the valleys. Lakes quickly began to spill their banks. On the morning of June 8, the Many Glacier staff watched helplessly as the lake crept across the service road and Hotel lawn. Under the command of Ray Kinley, employees rushed to save the Lake Level furniture. The bar's piano was put up on blocks. Banquet tables were set up in Stagger Alley, and guest room furniture was piled on top. Just as the work was finished, water came pouring into the Hotel, rising to 3 feet on the Lake Level. The Hotel didn't reopen until late June.