WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) _ Glacier National Park officials celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on Friday and said they expect the scenic route will be open to Big Bend by noon Saturday.
More than 500 people gathered at Lake McDonald Lodge for the ceremony, which was moved from its traditional location at Logan Pass because of wintry weather. Logan Pass was the site of the 1933 dedication ceremony that attracted about 4,000 people.
“Before these 75 years, hundreds of years and generations had been coming to this place,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer said, acknowledging the Indian tribes that have been a part of Glacier country for centuries. He added that “you cannot help but think there was a hand of God in creating this place.”
Montana’s two U.S. senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, also spoke at the celebration.
More than a dozen people who attended the 1933 dedication arrived at the park aboard a red 1933 stretch Cadillac and 1927 White Motor Co. bus, once operated by the Glacier Transport Co.
“I was only seven years old (at the original ceremony),” said Creston resident Les Mahugh, who helped build the Logan Pass visitor center in the early 1960s and assisted after the 1964 flood. “I remember there was an awful lot of people up there, and I remember there were teepees set up.”
Park officials said they expect to open a 29-mile section of the famed road to Big Bend on Saturday.
The section of road from the park’s west entrance will only be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Outside those hours, west side vehicle travel will end at Avalanche, about 16 miles from the west entrance.
On the east side of the park, visitors can travel about 13 miles from St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook.
Park road crews will be working through the weekend to prepare for the opening of the entire scenic highway. Park Superintendent Charles “Chas” Cartwright said plow crews have tackled the Big Drift, which was still more than 70 feet deep this week.
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