My Memories of Working In Glacier National Park

At my current age, memories of Glacier Park are melting… almost as fast as the glaciers themselves. So, it is good that I found this Internet spot where I could lay down some recollections before they’re flowing down Two Medicine Creek and on to the rivers of history.

How I Got a Job In Glacier National Park

I came to Glacier Park in the most fortuitous of circumstances.

In the spring of 1957 I was on college break from the University of Wisconsin attempting to get a summer spot with a radio or TV station – any station! No luck.

As I walked back to Chicago’s Union Station, I came to the downtown offices of the Great Northern Railway, the staff of which I’d gotten to know in the previous three summers as a reservation clerk with the Burlington Railroad, which operated GN trains between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota.

So, stopping in for a cup of coffee was to be no more than a brief “hello-how are you?” visit.

In 15 seconds my life completely changed!

“Good Lord, we’ve been looking for…and I was just talking about to Percy Homes. You’re haven’t signed on with the Burlington for the summer yet, have you?”

The smiling, almost yelling speaker was Graham French the head of the Chicago Office of the Great Northern.

“No, I’m just trying to get into some radio or TV station for the summer. But, I suppose I’ll be talking to the Burlington for yet one more summer.”

I’d worked as a summer reservation agent for the Burlington, lovingly called the “Q” by its employees, for the past three summers. Dating a “Q” executive’s daughter helped a little!

As it happened P.G. Holmes, the head of the Great Northern passenger department was in French’s office; they’d been talking about me no more than 30 minutes earlier.

“You’d be perfect as out summer guy in Glacier Park working with the district passenger agent, Jack Garrity.”

I wasn’t about to argue that point!

After ten minutes with Holmes and French, I signed on. I was “in.” Or, “on” to be more accurate. I’d not make much money, but room and board was part of the deal with the Great Northern who at the time owned the Glacier Park hotels.

My Memories of Working in Glacier National Park

Never mind I was a summer college-student employee,; I was working for the mother company, and because of that I ate at the staff table – not with other summer college student employees who ate “downstairs” in the employee lunchroom.

I had my own room in the hotel – not with other summer college student employees, two to a room! – in the hotel’s dorms!

And…this was best slice of the summer pie …I had business cards with name and title embossed! Not too shabby for a college student, I’d say!

So, for three months in 1957, and again in 1959 (I did summer school in 1956) I was riding “first class” as a summer student employee for the Great Northern Railway, and it opened up my mind, my abilities, and my love for the US of A as no other job could possibly have done, 25 years of radio and TV broadcasting included!

Under the heading, “If I Could…” I’d not return to radio, or TV and the attending publicity that goes with broadcasting.

Nope, I’d pack the bags and head to the Glacier Park Lodge, and that Great Northern desk that looked out the front window down the path to the tracks, and the sleek Empire Builder gliding by, and the Western Star pulling in to drop off yet a hundred or so eager visitors to one of Americans crown jewels.
“All aboard…”


~ Bob Hale… WLS Chicago; WMAQ-TV Chicago… and a few others in between!

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My Memories of Working In Glacier National Park

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Sep 19, 2011



Correct years


by: Bob Hales

1955 and 1957 were my Glacier Park-Great Northern years!!!

Minor history footnote: I emceed Buddy Holly’s last concert in Clear Lake Iowa in Feb 1959. And joined WLS Chicago in April 1960. (At my current age it’s tough to keep dates straight. I never had that problem when I was dating!!!!!! )


Sep 19, 2011



Brain Freeze!



by: Bob Hale

Updating my own comments here: I was with the Great Northern for the summers of 1955 and 1957. In ’56 I gave summer school a shot!

Sep 18, 2011



Carpe Diem

by: Margaret Newill

Re: Bob Hale’s story

What a wonderful story. You never know where the path will lead you but you chose the right choice and siezed the moment.

A Canadian ‘cousin’ who loves the high places (hiked in Glacier in ’10).

Margaret Newill

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