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The Geysers-to-Glaciers Trail Opened in 1919

On February 26, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act of Congress establishing the Grand Canyon National Park. The bill making the Grand Canyon a national park was passed after having been before Congress for thirty-three years. A few months later, in the summer of 1919, the Geysers-to-Glaciers Trail opened. The goal of this highway was to connect America’s Western national parks. Frank Leslie’s Weekly ran this story about the new road and what Americans could expect on July 19, 1919.

The Geysers-to-Glaciers Trail

On June 20 the first link in a great motor highway connecting the national parks of the West was opened for regular automobile transportation. Over this road, which has been designated as “The Geysers-to-Glaciers Motor Trail,” ten-passenger motor busses will be operated on regular daily schedules. A fleet of 275 cars has been placed at the disposal of tourists, to carry them between Yellowstone and Glacier Parks .

The second link in the park highway is now ready for motorists. This is the road connecting the Rocky Mountain Park with the Yellowstone. It is the aim of the United States Government to develop a well-defined motor highway joining also Glacier, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Yosemite, Mesa Verde, Sequoia national parks and the Grand Canyon of Arizona.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
Following months of touring, representatives of the Bureau of National Parks and of the park transportation companies finally announced on May 16 that a motor route had been decided upon to connect America’s two greatest parks —the Yellowstone and the Glacier. Men who made the tour believe they have selected what is destined to become generally recognized as one of the most wonderful scenic highways in the world. Tourists this summer will at least have the opportunity to judge, for they will have the privilege of following the yellow cars of the Yellowstone and the gray cars of Glacier not only through the great parks but also over the highway between the parks .

A typical stretch of road along the new highway running through the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman, Montana. The Geysers-to-Glaciers trail is guided by the main range of the Rocky Mountains, winding in and out through picturesque gulches. over crashing mountain streams, and climbing the easy grades to height, as great as 7500 feet.

A typical stretch of road along the new highway running through the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman, Montana. The Geysers-to-Glaciers trail is guided by the main range of the Rocky Mountains, winding in and out through picturesque gulches. over crashing mountain streams, and climbing the easy grades to height, as great as 7500 feet.

The Geysers-to-Glaciers trail is guided by the main range of the Rocky Mountains, winding in and out through picturesque gulches, over crashing mountain streams and climbing the easy grades to heights as great as 7500 feet. The road distance from Yellowstone to Glacier is 387.2 miles—from Mammoth hotel to Glacier hotel.

Starting from Yellowstone entrance, the motorist drives through the beautiful canyon of the Yellowstone River to the thriving Western city of Livingston. Contrasting with this spectacular mountain scenery is the next 88 miles through the richest agricultural section of Montana. The passenger busses run from Mammoth hotel to Bozeman—a distance of 89.6 miles—during the morning, stopping for luncheon at Bozeman. Here the State Agricultural College is located. Only an hour is allowed for the noon meal, for the cars must hurry on to Helena, 102:1 miles away. During the afternoon the tourist passes through two types of Montana scenery— the splendid farms of Gallatin and Broadwater counties and the rugged mountain heights of Jefferson and Lewis and Clark counties.

Helena, capital city of Montana, is the overnight stop. Tourists can choose between modern city hotels, the resort hotels in the adjacent mountains, the Helena tourists’ camp on the edge of town, or any of the natural camp sites along the road.

The second day’s journey along the Geysers-to-Glaciers trail takes the motorist over the best roads in Montana and through a country richly endowed with nature’s beauties. H. W. Child, president of the Yellowstone Park Hotel and Transportation Company, who has toured in all parts of this country and in many foreign lands, describes the ride from Helena through Wolf Creek and Dearborn canyons as “the most wonderful drive in the world.”

Passing through Wolf Creek and Augusta, the road leads into the Sun River country and across Teton county to Choteau, a hustling Western city. Here luncheon is obtained. From Choteau north, the tourist passes through great stock ranges and gets a real taste of Western romance in the Indian country. For 40 miles the road angles through the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, up and down and around mighty buttes and hills and over scenic plains. Always along the route can be seen towering in the distance the great snow-capped range of the Rockies which point the way into Glacier National Park . At Browning, visitors have a picture of a Western trading station with Indians and cowboys in their native haunts. The drive from Browning into the park is easy and uneventful unless it so happens that one of the Indian herds of steers blocks the way. Then it requires much tooting of horn and shouting of driver to clear a path.

The drive from Helena to Choteau is 106 miles and from Choteau into Glacier Park 89.5 miles.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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