-nearing Glacier National Park gate with the Sir Donald Range in the background
This post is for Robb Kloss of Ruahine Ramblings in New Zealand who is celebrating his birthday. Please pop over to wish him a good one.
Glacier House is the focal point for ten hiking trails in Glacier National Park, British Columbia. These ten backcountry trails that lead out of the Illecillewaet Campground date from the early days of railway tourism and still follow the routes laid out by the original Swiss Guides of Glacier House.
[2-Rogers Pass rest stop with Illecillewaet Glacier in background - click to enlarge]
Illecillewaet Campground is located 2.6 km west of the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre located in an avalanche shelter on the Trans-Canada Highway (hwy 1).
[3 - Rogers Pass Discovery Centre built in an avalanche shelter - click to enlarge This avalanche shelter was built as a protection against the multiple avalanches that occur in Rogers Pass. Every year there is a memorial for those who lost their lives in the March 4, 1910 avalanche. This year marks the 100th year anniversary.]
The campground is open from late June to September 1 and offers 60 campsites, flush toilet washroom buildings, log kitchen shelters, food lockers, firewood and drinking water supplies.
[4 - Illecillewaet Campground]
[4A-Gopher (Richardson Ground Squirrel) - click to enlarge]
Go to the second parking lot past the campground, walk up the rail trail toward the Wheeler Hut for about 100m, crossing the Illecillewaet River.
[5- Trail crosses the Illecillewaet River]
There is an interpretative trail at the Glacier House ruins. Glacier House had been demolished in 1929.
[6-Foundations of Glacier House]
Below the Great Glacier (later called the Illecillewaet) and on the main line, the C.P.R. constructed Glacier House - a traditional C.P.R. hotel. Originally, the hotel was built to eliminate the need to haul heavy dining cars over the pass. Trains were conveniently scheduled so that passengers could lunch at the hotel.
[7-Glacier House former wall]
Glacier House quickly became a popular tourist attraction and facilities were eventually expanded to include 90 rooms and related services.
[8-Glacier House old furnace remains]
The C.P.R. brought mountain climbing guides from Switzerland and the hotel became a focal point for mountaineering in the Selkirks and North America.
[9 -Winter scene at Glacier House. Note snow piles surrounding train tracks and station c.1885-1890s - for photo clink on link to Glenbow Archives]
After a massive avalanche on March 10, 1910 that killed 58, the CPR admitted defeat to the weather conditions of Rogers Pass and began in 1913 to build a tunnel underneath Mount Carroll (Macdonald) which was called the Connaught Tunnel. In 1917 the Connaught Tunnel opened for rail traffic with a distance of 1.6km to bypass the dangerous Rogers Pass.
Glacier House continued to operate until 1925 losing its business to the Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Lake Louise, as well as the retreat of the Illecillewaet Glacier which had been 150 feet from the hotel.