“The road up to Swift Current in its present condition has been known to make a preacher curse, and I have my opinion of the man who makes the trip over this road (!) without breaking the 3rd commandment or perhaps all ten of them.” — Dupuyer, Montana “Acantha,” March 3, 1900
Bears; Where They Fought: Life in Glacier Park’s Swiftcurrent Valley, a new e-book by Malcolm R. Campbell, steps back in time to the short-lived mining boom town of Altyn that prospectors and developers believed would be Montana’s great center of copper and gold mining.
Today, the remains of Altyn sit at the bottom of Lake Sherburne less than a mile from the present-day location of Many Glacier Hotel. Altyn came and went as did the two grizzly bears whose fight attracted the attention of a Piegan hunting party about 1860 and lent a long-forgotten place name that came out of one of the valley’s many stories.
The new e-book, from Vanilla Heart Publishing, looks at some of the valley’s other milestones between those long-ago fighting bears and, the hotel’s construction and development by the Great Northern Railway and the floods of 1964 and 1975.
After employees saved Many Glacier Hotel from the Heaven’s Peak Fire in 1936 and wired the Great Northern that the structure survived, the railroad sent a telegram back with the word “Why?” Though the railroad was beginning to doubt the viability of its Glacier Park holdings, they owned an operated Many Glacier and other hotels and chalets in the park for almost another 30 years.
The hotel was saved in 1936 and, since then, it’s become a National Register property and another enduring legacy of a valley that stretches far back into the past in the land of shining mountains. I first walked into the Swiftcurrent Valley in 1963. Since then, I’ve gone back many times. Bears: Where They Fought is my way of capturing the spirit of the most beautiful country on the planet.
“On a quiet day, however, those walking alongside the relatively recent Lake Sherburne reservoir may hear the voice of grandfather rock whispering a secret: within the scope of geologic time, all rivers are new, and the men and women who follow them are as ephemeral as monarch butterflies on a summer afternoon.” — “Bears; Where They Fought”