Eliza Myers

Left Behind in Montana’s Glacier Country

 
 

Eliza Myers
Published May 06, 2018

Glacier Country history isn’t measured by centuries; it’s measured by millennia.

Untold ages ago, tectonic pressure forced the area’s ancient rocks up into the wide expanse of the Montana sky. Today, people must see the snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lakes of Glacier National Park with their own eyes to fully appreciate its mind-boggling splendor. With such a far-reaching past and inconceivable beauty, the area has attracted many fascinating cultures, characters and traditions.

Glacier Country covers Glacier National Park and the surrounding region in Montana’s northwestern corner between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Known to the Blackfeet Native American tribe as the Backbone of the World, the mountainous region inspired Native American lore, a railway tycoon eager to turn the area into an attraction and over a century’s worth of tourists.

Groups can explore the history and heritage of Glacier Country while admiring its pristine landscapes on tours that feature iconic red buses, historic lodges, a Native American museum and the railway stop that originally opened the way for the outside world.

 

Great Northern Railway Whitefish Depot

When the first train rolled into Whitefish in 1904, few civilized comforts existed. Within a year, the untamed area huddled beneath a sharp rise of mountains became the incorporated city of Whitefish. The amount of timber needed to house the growing population led to town’s nickname: Stumptown.

Groups can discover the early years of Whitefish at the Whitefish Museum, inside the town’s 1927 train depot. Run by the Stumptown Historical Society, the museum traces local history with artifacts, photographs and exhibits.

The Whitefish Depot itself fascinates visitors with its Alpine design, using horizontal wood siding and timber framing. On the National Register of Historic Places, the depot largely retains its original appearance on the lower level, with the museum on the second floor.

“The Great Northern Railway Depot is a cool, old train depot in the heart of downtown,” said Lucy Guthrie Beighle, public relations and earned media manager for Glacier Country Tourism. “It’s just charming. It’s so centrally located that motorcoach groups could first check out the depot and historical museum before touring downtown Whitefish.”

Groups will have an even greater appreciation of Whitefish’s active downtown — full of breweries, shops and restaurants — after seeing how far the town’s tourism industry has come.

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