Some of that first backpacking took place at Logan Pass. I hear numerous people talking about driving to “Logan’s Pass” to see the sights or walk up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. Well folks, the correct name is Logan Pass and here is the history behind the name.
Logan Pass was named for Major William R. Logan, first superintendent of Glacier National Park, from 1910 to 1912. With an annual salary of $3,600, Superintendent Logan faced a lot of dilemmas such as poaching and an enormous forest fire in 1910.
The park also had very few trails. He hired rangers and started making plans to build more trails. At that time, there were only two trails crossing the mountains, one from Lake McDonald to Saint Mary Lake and the other up the McDonald Creek Valley and over Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier.
Logan is also credited with the concept of building the Trans-mountain Road which eventually became the Going-to-the-Sun Road. He would not see his idea of the road become reality; he died in 1912.
The Native American also frequented Logan Pass and they have left a rich history.
This pass has been used for centuries upon centuries before the first whiteman arrived on the scene. It was a well-traveled pass used primarily by the Kootenai Nation and Salish People and occasionally by the Blackfeet.
Schultz wrote that the Blackfeet called the trail to Logan Pass the Ancient Road. He noted that “this pass was used by West side tribes, first the Snakes and later by the Salish and the Kootenai tribes.”
The Kootenai called this pass, Packs-Pulled-Up.
As you drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Loop you see the deep valley below Bird Woman Falls. This was where the Kootenai People would travel to cross Logan Pass.
In a tradition thousands of years old, the Kootenai would use snowshoes to cross the passes to go hunting on the east side of the mountains between January and March.
The Kootenai would follow McDonald Creek (Sacred Dancing Creek) from Lake McDonald (Sacred Dancing Lake) to the mouth of Logan Creek and then follow the creek all the way to the headwall below Logan Pass.
From there the Kootenai used rawhide straps to pull their packs and each other up the ledges on the wall. Men would also stand on each other’s shoulders and help each other as they ascended this steep section. At times only men were on this trip but at other times women and children were along to help.
Once on top, at present day Logan Pass, they would send their bundles sliding down slope into the St. Mary River Valley. After sending their bundles they slid down and then walked to frozen St. Mary Lake and proceed to hunt buffalo and bighorn sheep along the shores of the lake.
Backpacking has long been the way of life here in Glacier and history has just proven it.
For more on the history behind the names check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.
Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see what I can find out.
© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015