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[graphic]  Glacier National Park
[graphic] National Register Multiple Property Nomination



[photo]
Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park
Photograph courtesy of Glacier National Park, National Park Service

Glacier National Park is located in Flathead and Glacier Counties in northwestern Montana, along the American-Canadian border and the Continental Divide. Congress created Glacier National Park from forest lands in 1910, almost 20 years after the discovery of gold along the park's east side. The Great Northern Railway had already opened the land to settlement and tourism in 1892, and oil had been discovered at Kintla Lake in 1901. Park managers faced many unprecedented problems, including developing a system of facilities that would best serve the public while preserving and protecting the area's scenic and natural values. Housing and maintenance facilities needed to be created, roads, trails and administrative sites built, telephone communication lines placed, potential campgrounds cleared, as well as a host of other necessities needed for the ever increasing volume of tourists. The accelerated development was made possible in large part by Depression-era funding, when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA), and the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) contributed to both maintaining and improving the administrative facilities as well as the public access system at Glacier National Park. While many types of buildings were constructed in Glacier National Park, and subsequently listed in the National Register of Historic Places for their historic significance and cultural integrity, the fire lookouts, cabins, and ranger stations stand out as important contributions in the history of Glacier National Park. Showcased here is a representative type of each, to represent the importance of these buildings as a whole in the history of Glacier National Park and, in a larger sense, the early National Park System. For further information on this park's historic context, click here.

The designs for most of the buildings constructed in Glacier National Park originated from (or were approved by) National Park Service architects for the Western Region, located in San Francisco. Because these architects designed similar buildings for other western parks, floor plans were similar; ranger stations, patrol cabins, residences, and equipment sheds in Glacier evidence the same structural configuration and use of materials as those in Yellowstone or Yosemite. The principles of rustic design were applied not just to buildings but to all man-made instructions upon the landscape. National Park Service landscape architects encouraged the protection and preservation of natural scenery, vistas, and landscape.



[photo] The Numa Ridge Fire Lookoput was one of a series of permament fire lookouts set throughout Glacier National Park after the destructive fire of 1919
Photo National Register of Historic Places collection from Montana State Historic Preservation Office
Numa Ridge Fire Lookout: The forest fires of 1919 were especially destructive to Glacier National Park, and helped prompt the newly created National Park Service to initiate the construction of permanent fire lookouts, equipment caches, and to expand a phone-line system initiated after the earlier, 1910 fire. The Numa Ridge Fire Lookout, on Kintla Peak, is one of several similar buildings constructed in Glacier National Park between the late 1920s and the early 1940s to protect parklands from the always-critical threat of forest fire. The Numa Ridge fire lookout is a two-story, square (14 x 14'), log-framed interior building with a cedar-shingled pyramidal hip roof. Set on a rubblestone and concrete pad foundation, the upper level is reached by a plank stairway. Double pane windows and a catwalk wrap around four sides of the upper level. Fire lookouts were generally constructed from standardized building packages, packed to the lookout site for assembly. As befits its function, walls of windows dominate the interior of the small lookout station. A planned network of lookouts within the Park and on adjoining national forest lands allowed reciprocal surveillance of both areas. The series of lookouts in Glacier succeeded for many years in curtailing disastrous fires in the park. Today, air observation allows a more comprehensive coverage of the park and has replaced the manned lookout almost entirely.



[photo] The Upper Nyack Snowshoe Cabin was built in 1926 to provide shelter for rangers patrolling Glacier national Park's back country
Photo courtesy Glacier National Park, National Register of Historic Places collection
Upper Nyack Snowshoe Cabin: Beginning in the 1920s, patrol or "snowshoe" cabins were constructed from a standardized plan, modified to fit each site's unique terrain and the available building materials. Glacier National Park's cabins were the same design as those used in Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone cabins were, in turn, close replicas of the USFS patrol cabins that were based off the design of trappers' cabins. The patrol cabins were constructed one-day's travel (8-12 miles) apart, providing shelter for rangers patrolling the park's vast backcountry. The Upper Nyack snowshoe cabin, located on the north side of Nyack Creek along Nyack Creek Trail, is a one-story log cabin, measuring 14 x 18' with a 6' porch extension. Resting on a log alignment and stone pad foundation, the cabin was built in 1926 by local carpenters. The roof is covered with corrugated metal and the cabin has a solid vertical wood door and wood-shuttered windows. The Upper Nyack snowshoe cabin is an early example of backcountry rustic building in Glacier.



The Cut Bank Ranger Station Historic District represents some of the first park buildings constructed in 1917 by the newly created National Park Service
Photograph by Nancy Niedernhofer, National Register of Historic Places collection
Cut Bank Ranger Station Historic District: Shortly after Congress passed legislation establishing the boundaries of Glacier National Park in 1910, it became apparent that it would be necessary to hire rangers to patrol the new park. Initially, the administrative facilities were constructed by the park rangers themselves. Between the mid-1910s and 1940, however, Congress increased its appropriations and the National Park Service, created in 1916, provided architectural guidance to ensure that the new administrative structures, including ranger stations, were designed to be compatible with the natural surroundings. The Cut Bank Ranger Station is located on a gravel road, northeast of the Cut Bank Campground and the Cut Bank Pass Trail in the valley created by the North Fork of Cut Bank Pass Trail. Spectacular views of the adjacent mountains are afforded and the site exhibits the mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. The Cut Bank Ranger Station Historic District includes a Ranger Station (office and dwelling), a barn and associated corral system, a woodshed, and an oil house. Built with funds from a 1917 appropriation, the Cut Bank Ranger Station represents one of the first park buildings erected under the aegis of the fledging National Park Service. Upon the station's completion, it was staffed by a permanent ranger who patrolled the Cut Bank Valley, represented the park service at the nearby campground and the Great Northern Hotel Company's Cut Bank Charlets, and performed year-round boundary patrols. The Cut Bank Ranger Station was manned year-round until the late 1930s when the National Park Service chose to staff Cut Bank and several other ranger stations only during the summer months. This pattern of use continues today.

Find out more about Glacier National Park:
National Historic Landmarks | Going-to-the-Sun Road TwHP Lesson Plan
Glacier National Park Website | Park Week Home


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