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Fire Claims Historic Sperry Chalet In Glacier National Park


The Sprague Fire, seen here Thursday night in a photo from Apgar in Glacier National Park, has claimed the historic Sperry Chalet/NPS

Sperry Chalet, viewed along with the Granite Park Chalet as the last vestiges of the "chalet era" at Glacier National Park, has been lost to the flames of the Sprague Fire.

The chalet, which dates to 1913 when the Great Northern Railway worked to promote Glacier as a destination for travelers, burned around 6 p.m. Thursday.

"We are saddened to inform you that Sperry Chalet has been lost," read a post on the chalet's website. "The hotel building was rapidly engulfed by fire. We are grateful for the efforts made by the National Park Service and the exceptional team of firefighters. Unfortunately this fire could not be contained. All firefighters and persons associated with the chalets are safe. It is still too early to know the full extent of the damage. The fires are not out and the crews are still fighting the fire in the Sperry area. The Sprague Fire is likely to continue burning until Glacier Park sees a turn toward wet winter weather."

The chalet, located just southeast of Lake McDonald and to the west of Gunsight Mountain, closed for the rest of the season on August 15 because of the wildfire sparked by lightning on August 10. With the fire moving in the chalet's direction, firefighters worked to protect the historic lodge.

"Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the chalet," the Park Service said Thursday evening. "The high winds experienced this afternoon pushed the fire to the east. The firefighters, supported by three helicopters, made a valiant stand to save the structure but were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet. The firefighters remain on site, are safe, and are currently actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures."

Glacier officials could not immediately be reached Friday to say whether they would rebuild the chalet.

The Sperry Chalet and its sister, the Granite Park Chalet, were built by the railroad to promote train travel to the national park. The two, opened long before the Going-to-the-Sun Road provided access across the park, were accessible by foot or horseback. 

"Originally, they were part of the eight-chalet system that tourists visited as they linked their trip from chalet to chalet," notes Bridget Moylan in her book, Glacier's Grandest, A Pictorial History of the Hotels and Chalets of Glacier National Park. "In the early days, where then was no transmountain road through the park, the railroad established tent camps between the chalet stops to bridge the long distances. The unique feature of the Sperry and Granite Park chalets, which sets them apart from the other chalets, is their construction of stone quarried from the building site. Their solid construction is one reason the buildings have withstood years of severe Glacier winters."


so sad. Please don't let the fire get to many glacier hotel. 

Terrible news.  I never stayed there, but certainly enjoyed its hospitality as I passed by many many eons ago.  It was a beautifully classic place.  I hope it will be rebuilt. 

While working there one summer, a guest asked, "what is it like working in Paradise?"

We pray that Paradise isn't lost, but can be rebuilt in some manner.  The Luding family said all you need is a "toothbrush and a smile".  They provided bountiful meals and God provided unsurpassed views and mountain goats  to greet you at the end of your 6 mile hike.

Absolutely. Sperry Chalet should be rebuilt, along with the lodge in Cedar Breaks, which did not burn but was torn down.

Actually, a good number of historic lodges have been "lost." In 1932, Grand Canyon Lodge, built in 1928, was lost to fire and rebuilt. The current lodge--also a stunning piece of architecture--opened on the North Rim in 1937. Then, in 1966, Zion Lodge was lost to fire--and rebuilt in 90 days. Eventually, by the 1990s, its original rusticity was under restoration, as well, bringing it closer to the original from 1925.

In 1914-15, the Union Pacific Railroad built a duplicate of Old Faithful Inn for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The replica was exact in every detail, except for a huge dining room instead of interior bedrooms. Vistors to the world's fair loved it! If our forebears could do that 100 years ago, nothing should be stopping us from rebuilding our lost history now.

I know. The purists among us will argue that these lodges never should have been built in the first place. Nonsense. The lodges aren't killing the parks; that is due entirely to excess asphalt and cars. The original lodges were places for people to meet and share the wonders of their day. Huge lobbies invited people to gather. If most of us today are tweeting and twittering, those distractions began with the car.

Yes. Rebuild Sperry and do it immediately. It won't be the "original" materials but it will be the original site. And the materials can be exact to the originals.  Just ask the Union Pacific Railroad, which did it for Old Faithful Inn in 1915,

What a shame.  Stayed there twice, early 1970s and again in 2004.  Special place. It should be rebuilt.    I'd be happy to contribute and I'm sure many others would, too. 

Was there yesterday. Today (Sunday) they're calling for evacuation from the south end of the Lake to Logan Pass.  Essentially this covers the McDonald Lodge area, campgrounds in that area, and all in-holders who own properties along the lake. . . . NOT Apgar, yet.

I'm saddened by the loss of this beautiful landmark. I was blessed to have visited there 5 years ago. 

My wife and I are espcially sorry to see this loss. We stayed there last September and loved it. I do hope it is rebuilt in the same way it was. What a sad loss.


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