My father, being a poor school teacher, looked at some sort of summer work to supplement the feeding of a family of 5.
A fellow teacher suggested the National Park System and as luck would have it, Glacier National Park was the only park that offered a position – as camptender at Many Glacier Campground.
This was in 1960, when I was 10 years old.
When I was 16, I was the youngest person hired at Lake McDonald Lodge (1966) and finished the summer as dishwasher at the Coffee Shop. Only Donna Hummel was younger and her father was President!
Asked back after getting that coveted “Christmas Card” from Glacier Park Inc the next summer, I was a busboy/waiter in the dining room. Could only work the last third of the summer of 1968, again in the dining room.
The Summer of 69 found me as head waiter in the Coffee shop for one of the greatest summers of my life.
Hiking, swimming, West Glacier’s 19th Hole and Frieda’s, it was just the best experience.
I’m still in touch with my dorm roommate Larry White and dorm-mate George Gallagher. Friendships that last.
I would encourage any college student to take at least one summer to explore this heaven on earth and make friendships that will last a lifetime.
Working at Lake McDonald Lodge in 1962
I worked at Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier Park the summer of ’62.
My wife of over forty years is weary of hearing about “the best summer I ever had.”…so I’ll employ your site to explain why it was true.
I had finished two years of college with no break, having also taken courses in the summer. This was at Bemidji State College in Minnesota.
I applied in the spring of ’62 to work at Lake McDonald Lodge as a dishwasher and my father drove me from Crookston MN to Grand Forks, ND, to board the train.
I met some gals on the train who were also going to various hotels, etc. in the Park and watched as some disembarked at East Glacier.
Then it was on to Belton where I and the others on the train were going to work at various jobs at Lake McDonald. We were welcomed by Mr. Erickson and soon we were off in his van and were immediately introduced to the beauty of the Park
We drove along the road as it hugged the shoreline of Lake McDonald on our left, while magnificent forests were on our right…and mountains in every direction.
This was when the old original hotel was the male dorm and I worked in the Grill, which was many years later to become the workers rec room.
My room mates were: Keith Paetznick, who attended St. Cloud State in Minnesota, Joe Dooley, attending Marian Military Institute, and my fellow dishwasher, Curt Rossow, who attended the University of Indiana.
I was very happy to find Jill Janecky was working at the grill as a waitress. I had met her in high school in Crookston, MN, the single year I attended school there.
She was the kind of person that bouyed everyone’s spirits.
Another lovely woman I also met there was Julia Chatterton from Grinnell College, whose beauty and brains enchanted me that entire summer and beyond.
I’m sure everyone that’s worked in Glacier National Park can understand my fascination with the park and why it was the best summer of my life.
Comment from Greg Beaumont
Hi, Fellow Enchanter,
I worked there as a busboy in ’63. Wife and I were Numa Ridge lookouts in ’66. Wrote a natural history handbook for the NPS in ’74, published in ’78 as The Life of Glacier National Park (now out of print). You are correct in believing that this Park is akin to a religious conversion.
Worked in Swiftcurrent Inn – 1966 Glacier National Park
I worked at Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Inn in 1966 as a houseman. Never really knew what that was, so I did a little of everything.
While working in God’s country, I called home and told my parents I was never leaving. Being from Memphis, I could not believe this place. Gorgeous.
Stayd in Cabin A-6 with Mike McClarty from Texas. We once walked up behind a sow griz and 2 cubs. Got as close as 3 feet! Backed away and never looked back. Boy, were we lucky!
No employee cars then, but anyone would give you a ride. We would go to the Liquor store in Babb for supplies.
Went back in 2000 and so l ittle had changed. We stayed at Many Glacier. Wish it was not such a long trip, or I’d go back more often. Still keep up with a couple of people I worked with.
Worst mistake I made was not getting everyones address before I left, but I got draft notice and had to go. Was offered a job to stay thru the winter to do maintenance and stay with the couple that lived by the waterfall on road going to hotel.
Some of the best days of my life were when I worked in Glacier National Park.
The best summer of my life – Working in Glacier National Park
In December of 1968, I was a student at the University of Montana at Missoula. I read in the student newspaper that someone from Glacier National Park would be accepting applications for summer employment and conducting interviews at the school a few days later. I decided to apply and went in for an interview and by January of 1969, I was hired a seasonal Ranger-Naturalist for the coming summer.
I remember that when I arrived at West Glacier by bus (I had no car at the time), I must have been a real site. I had all of my possessions in a fully loaded backpack with my brand new flat brimmed hat tied onto the top of the pack and I walked the distance from the front entrance of the park to the park headquarters to check in.
I was assigned to work at St. Mary, which was on the east side of the park. Without a car, that was a problem until I found a ride to St. Mary with someone else headed that way.
The summer went way too fast and I loved every minute of it, as I did the typical naturalist duties of conducting nature hikes over Siyeh pass, Otokomi Lake and Granite Park Chalet. Other duties included campfire talks at Rising Sun campground, tour boats on St. Mary lake and of course the visitor center duties.
There were so many wonderful memories of that summer that it is hard to have a favorite one…
But I do have good memories of hiking out to Granite Park Chalet. In those days, in the summer, the Chalet had a full staff of young people like myself employed as waiters and waitresses at the Chalet. At night when everything was closed down, I can remember that we would climb on the roof of the Chalet and talk and laugh and sing and just watch Heavens Peak and the Valley in the moonlight.
It was truly a great way for a young person to spend his summer and get paid for it too!
I would not trade that summer of my life for all the money in the world and I still have very vivid memories of that time.
~ Rick Seward
Music on the Mountain
I worked at Many Glacier Hotel for Rocky Mountain Outfitters in the summers of 66 & 67.
Of all my memories, the best was an evening I had to go look for several mules that had gotten out of the Lake Sherman pasture.
It had been a stormy and rainy afternoon spent shoeing horses and mules, so I was glad to hit the saddle and to go look. The rains had stopped and the evening was crystal clear and fresh with the sunset pushing the clouds away. The trail that I followed took me high above the valley floor along the South East ridge between Swift Current Lake and Cracker Flats.
I had a good dappled grey gelding that I enjoyed riding and as the sun slipped under the remaining clouds it lit the Swiftcurrent Valley like a spotlight.
Then through the evening sounds a trumpet started playing. He was above and ahead of me and playing trumpet solos, flight of the bumble bee, etc. He was very good, as were most of the talent that worked at Many Glacier Lodge those years.
As I rode closer I began to catch a glimpse of the player standing on the very edge of a ledge and playing his heart out. The music was great and the scenery made it surreal.
When my horse blew his nose the fellow nearly jumped off the cliff. I apologized for startling him but had to ask why.
He told me that he had often suffered from stage fright if he had to play to a large auditorium, sometimes the vast space overwhelmed him.
He had found this overlook while hiking and decided that if he could play to the Swiftcurrent Valley no stage would ever scare him again.
My horse and I backed out of there and spent the rest of the evening looking for mules–but really we were just puttering through the trees so we could stay in earshot of this very fine trumpet player.
It is one of my favorite memories of all times.
I hope that he has been very successful and that his horn has brought him fame and fortune.
The memory has warmed my soul many times over the years.
Rocky Mountain Outfitters
Glacier National Park
1966 and 1967