One hundred years ago this month, the Glacier Park Lodge opened its doors on the edges of Glacier National Park. Not much has changed since, according to author and historian Christine Barnes, who’s published a new book celebrating the centennial.
“Glacier Park Lodge: Celebrating 100 Years” was printed this month by Farcountry Press and takes an in-depth look at the lodge and its history. Barnes has written many books on historic lodges in the American and Canadian national parks and even served as the senior consultant for the PBS television series based on her book “Great Lodges of the National Parks.”
“What’s great about these places is that they don’t change a lot,” Barnes said. “We love to tear things down in this country and so the fact that these buildings are still standing is amazing.”
Barnes worked for a newspaper in the San Francisco area for two decades before moving to Bend, Ore. 19 years ago. Looking for a change of pace, she started writing books about historic lodges, mostly because she loved the architecture. Barnes said she did so much research for her first book, that she was unable to fit everything she wanted into that volume. From that bounty of research, her subsequent titles were born, including the most recent on the East Glacier lodge.
Built by the Great Northern Railway, the Glacier Park Lodge has 161 guest rooms, a dining room, a bar, a gift shop, an outdoor swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course and a day spa. Barnes said the building’s design was based on a structure constructed for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland. According to local lore, railroad president James J. Hill and his son Lewis (who would become president two years later and was instrumental in Glacier Park’s creation) saw the Forestry Building and liked it so much they found the blueprints and sent them to the architects working on the Glacier Park Lodge. An integral part of the exposition building was huge timbers that couldn’t be found in Montana. The Hills found similar logs in the Pacific Northwest and sent them east to Glacier National Park, according to Barnes.
“The mountains there are so imposing and they wanted a lodge that was just as imposing,” Barnes said.
Barnes’ 64-page book includes numerous historic photos and, according to Farcountry Press editor Will Harmon, makes a great souvenir for anyone staying at the lodge. On June 22, Glacier Park, Inc. will host a centennial celebration in East Glacier and copies of the book will be on sale. The book also has historic recipes that were once prepared at the hotel, which includes trout, a salad and a Montana Sundae with fry bread and huckleberry ice cream.
Harmon says the Glacier Park Lodge book is the first in a series Farcountry hopes to produce to celebrate the centennial of all of Glacier’s lodges. In 2014, the Lake McDonald Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel both turn 100.
When Farcountry wants to publish the next book in the series, Barnes said she is ready to do the research.
“People always ask me what my favorite lodge is and I always say, it’s the last one I visited,” she said. “Right now, that’s Glacier Park Lodge.”
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