In Search of the Elusive Hose Tower – Glacier National Park

Heading into the Clouds

How would you feel if the sun was shining, your family was bored, and all you could come up with, for fun, was to take a ride to look for a hose tower?  I mean…it was something I wanted to do, but, eventually. I didn’t think I wanted to waste a perfectly good day looking for a hose tower. But, nothing better came up, so we were on our way.


As usual, I was disappointed when I saw the clouds hanging over the canyon as we drove down Hwy. 206. I couldn’t help myself. I started complaining that we were leaving the sunshiny valley, and heading into the clouds. What a shame to leave fair weather behind. Fall was nodding towards winter and soon sunshine would be scarce.


It never fails; when we have blue skies in the valley, the park has gray ones, except for summer. Summer in western Montana is perfect, and much more reliable in the sunshine department. David, my eternally optimistic hubby, rarely, if ever, agrees with me about the gray skies. “The skies are not cloudy all day”, he insists. I’ve been married to him a long time, and most of the time he’s right, so there’s no point in arguing.

Our Search Begins

After arriving at the park, we turned into park headquarters to search for the hose tower.


Glacier Park Headquarters


After riding past the gas pumps, administrative offices, and fire cache several times, we gave up and parked near the residences to get out and stretch our legs.


The Park Superintendent’s Residence



History of the Belton Bridge Entrance

After reading the park sign, near what looked like a bike path, I had an AHA moment! Our pursuit to find the hose tower was leading us to places we hadn’t been before. Our “we have nothing better to do adventure” was turning into an exploration of the original Glacier Park entrance.


Transportation was by horse and buggy on the Sun Road


There I was, strolling down the original road towards the Belton Bridge – it was almost like traveling back in time! Well, not quite, but good enough.



original Glacier entrance road

The original road into Glacier National Park.


While walking along, I began thinking about the first visitors to Glacier National Park. It fascinated me to think of rowboats ferrying them across the river to enter the park. Once across, horse and buggies picked them up. Then, they were on their way to experience the Going to the Sun Road.

In 1895, a bridge was constructed which did away with the boats. It was later condemned in 1918.

The scenery became more beautiful as we walked along. The views were picture postcard perfect!


Splendid fall color lines the shores of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, Montana


The Belton Bridge came into view.  It was built in 1918, and served as the park entrance until 1938. At that time, another bridge was built in what is now the current entrance to the park.


A gorgeous fall day near the Belton Bridge.


Back to our Quest

After our walk to the Belton Bridge, we walked back to the trail head. We got into the truck in order to continue our quest to find the elusive hose tower. We drove to the Apgar Visitor Center to ask for help. A ranger confirmed that we were looking in the right area, (park headquarters), but suggested that we probably missed the hose tower because it was in a hollow near a fire cache.


Before going back to search for the tower, we couldn’t pass up taking a picture of beautiful Lake McDonald.


Blue skies peek through puffy white clouds over Lake McDonald.


And another one.


Autumn envelopes the shores of Lake McDonald.

Finding the elusive hose tower

By now you’re probably wondering what’s so great about the dang hose tower. For one, it’s a historic building in the park that most folks don’t get to see, but we are fortunate enough to be able to, because we live so close to the park.

For another, the tower:


  • Was built in 1933 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps); crews used it to help dry hoses by park fire teams.
  • Stands 60 feet tall.
  • Is still in use today.
  • Has received a lot of comment from other national parks as to its unique and distinct design.
  • Is the only noted hose tower in any national park.


Finally, there it was! We had driven passed it several times earlier, but hadn’t seen it. We hiked into the hollow and took some pictures.


The historic hose tower in Glacier National Park


That wrapped up the day, and it was a good one. Despite my cynicism about gray skies, nature rewarded me with color of another kind.


Views along the original road into Glacier National Park.


In Closing

Hitting the Jewel of the Continent at its peak of fall color right before it put on its winter coat was directly related to the idea of searching for the elusive hose tower. Being in the flow and taking in stride what life has to offer, allows one to find the little gems that otherwise may be missed.

historical reference: [via here]

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