Glacier National Park’s Birthday
May 11, 2019

Happy 108th Birthday, Glacier!

On May 11, 1910, Glacier National Park was established.

The first known recommendation that this area become a national park came from Lieutenant John T. Van Orsdale in 1883, when he wrote in the Fort Benton “River Press,” “I sincerely hope that publicity now being given to that portion of Montana will result in drawing attention to the scenery which surpasses anything in Montana or adjacent territories. A great benefit would result to Montana if this section could be set aside as a national park…“

Thanks to the efforts of early conservationist George Bird Grinnell, Orsdale’s hope eventually became reality. Born and raised in New England, Grinnell first visited the Glacier area in 1885 and wrote frequently of its beauty in “Forest and Stream” magazine, of which he was the editor.

In one 1905 editorial, he wrote, “[St. Mary’s country] is a region of marvelous lakes, towering peaks, vast glaciers and deep, narrow fiords. Few people know these wonderful mountains, yet no one who goes there but comes away filled with enthusiasm for their wild and singular beauty.”

Grinnell’s writing stirred nationwide interest in the area he dubbed “the Crown of the Continent,” and it was greatly due to his persistent lobbying that Congress eventually passed the bill establishing the park.

Often referred to as the “father of Glacier Park,” Grinnell is still well-represented here, with Grinnell Glacier, Lake, Falls, Mount, and Point all bearing his name. The first three of those landmarks are shown in the above photo taken around 1910.

Photos by Tim Rains/NPS, Fred Kiser/NPS

Event Date
May 11
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