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Inquiry Question

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Visual Evidence

Photo 4: Construction equipment near Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, ca. 1932. [Photo 4] with link to larger version of photo.
(National Park Service)

The National Park Service wanted to ban the use of power shovels in building Going-to-the-Sun Road. Because most contractors refused even to bid on the job if they couldn't use their power equipment, and because the cost of a road built exclusively by hand labor was too great, the power equipment was allowed.

Questions for Photo 4

1. This photo shows two trucks and a gas shovel. It was difficult to get equipment like this up to these elevations without roads. Some of it was fitted with tractor treads, while some was disassembled and hauled in by horse-drawn sleds or pontoon barges. Why do you think contractors refused to work without this equipment even when it was so difficult to get it up to the construction site?

2. This photo appears to show the end of the completed part of the road. Where do you think the road will go next? What sort of work needs to be done?

3. After examining photos 1-4, what generalizations can you make about working and living conditions for workers building Going-to-the-Sun Road?

4. When Going-to-the-Sun Road was dedicated, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes wrote, "It is a magnificent job, perfectly accomplished. Workmen who risked their lives daily on the face of the steep cliffs that had to be conquered to make this modern trail, deserve special honor for their share in the great undertaking."¹ If you had been a worker on the project, would you have felt honored by the Secretary's statement?

¹ "Report of the Dedication of the Going-to-the-Sun Highway, July 15, 1933, Glacier National Park Montana." Typescript, Park Files, Glacier National Park.

* The photo on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 4, but be aware that the file will take as much as 29 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.

 

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