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Great Northern HeraldMontana - Glacier National Park

We were fortunate enough to visit Glacier National Park in early July, 2013. Included in the visit were stays at four lodges in Montana (St. Mary, Lake McDonald, Many Glacier, & Glacier Park) and a brief stop at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

Moutain GoatSo why show the Great Northern Railway logo on the right of the page? James J. Hill, president and founder of the Great Northern Railway not only built a railroad, but he created an empire of towns and ranches along the tracks from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington. This rail route today is still called the Empire Builder.

Without the Great Northern Railway, Glacier National Park and Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park would not exist today, and much of the early history of Waterton-Glacier is the story of the Great Northern Railway. The Great Northern Railway lobbied the U.S. Congress, and in 1897, the park was designated a forest preserve. Then, in 1910, the U.S. Congress redesignated the region a national park, again with the help of lobbying from the Great Northern Railway.

The Great Northern then tapped into the market of wealthy Americans who generally took lengthy trips to Europe and lured them to Glacier National Park with the slogan "See America First." Of course, to get to the park the tourists would need to ride the railroad.

The Great Northern Railway was the major concessionaire and developer of visitor facilities in Glacier from 1910 until after World War II. After the creation of Glacier National Park, the Great Northern Railway, under the leadership of James J. Hill's son Louis W. Hill, built a chain of hotels, chalets, boats, roads, and trails throughout the park to support the tourist influx. The buildings, constructed and operated by Great Northern's subsidiary the Glacier Park Company, were modeled on Swiss architecture as part of Hill's plan to portray Glacier as "America's Switzerland."

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