West Side Tunnel

Going-to-the-Sun Road, part one

by grace on October 7, 2019

On Friday morning, Sept. 13th (friday the 13th and nothing horrible happened!), we packed up all our stuff and left the charming Chalet Motel in Whitefish.

it was a half-hour drive to West Glacier, where we stopped at the historic Belton Train Station and perused the stuff in the the National Conservancy Gift shop. But we weren’t in the mood for shopping; we wanted to get on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. That link, by the way, is the general info for the road, but there’s a whole lot of other information all over the place for it, if you’re interested.

Once inside the park we stopped off at one of the historic lodges, the Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and a mile wide, and we hiked along it one of the days.

A view of the back of the lodge. It’s one of a few historic lodges in the park. This one was built in 1913 and all the lodges seem to fill up really quickly – you have to book them a year in advance.

This is the view when we first left the lodge, heading up the GTTS Road.

The road is about 50 miles long and it’s on three different historic registers. There are lots of places to pull out, and here’s the first one.

This is the West Side Tunnel, and here’s some info about it:

Significance: The West Side Tunnel is one of approximately seventeen prominent masonry and concrete structures on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The 51-mile stretch of scenic road is significant as a unique engineering accomplishment of the early twentieth century, and as the first product of a 1925 cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads. The West Side Tunnel was part of the first contract following the landmark agreement. The tunnel is an excellent example of the care the engineers took in designing each structure for a given site, in that it has windows that look out on Heaven’s Peak and the scenic McDonald Creek Valley.

I found that info online, but i had with me the guidebook to the park, and there’s a detailed section about the many points of interest, so i was reading those in between taking pictures and videos.

Meanwhile, Kevin was doing an excellent job of driving as usual, on the very twisty road. plus it was raining.

Here are the Triple Arches, carved into the mountain. That red vehicle you see is one of the red buses that you could pay to ride in, instead of driving.

This is what the Glacier website says about the arches:

Triple Arches is one of the most recognizable features along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. An elegant solution to an early engineering problem, it has become a symbol of the care and dedication in the original construction of the road.

It took us about an hour to get to the peak, Logan Pass. There are two well-known trails at the pass, and i’d hoped we’d hike on the shorter one, the Hidden Lake Overlook.

Usually the parking lot at Logan Pass is completely full by eight a.m., but it wasn’t so bad that day, probably because it was raining, cold, and very windy. we found parking and headed into the information center. this is the posted sign.

So yeah, 55 mile-an-hour wind gusts, plus raining and cold. as you can see at the end of my video, there are giant clouds looming over the parking lot.

We agreed we wouldn’t hike because it seemed that it would be miserable.

My hope was that we’d drive back on the GTTS road on Sunday, and we could do one of the hikes then.

The info center was too crowded but i did enjoy perusing the old photos. Here’s a funny one about the opening ceremony.

“portions had to be compromised,” that’s funny. so each person got a tablespoon of chili, i suppose? They must have been really hungry by the time they all got off the mountain!

Here’s the video of some of our drive. i kept hanging out the window taking videos and pictures but i managed to condense it down, to just under two minutes.

ok then,

mrs. h.

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