Red Jammer Bus of Glacier National Park

A polished and spiffed up Red Jammer ready for passengers.

I had to chuckle when I read a woman’s complaints about taking the red jammer bus tour of the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  She said it had taken about 9 1/2 hours round trip to travel from the hemlock forests of West Glacier over the Continental Divide to the valley of Swiftcurrent and St. Mary. I’ve never taken the red bus, but I can attest to the fact that the Going to the Sun Road is a 100 mile round trip. It is a long day. Be open to the experience and you will be rewarded with some of the most picturesque scenery this country has to offer.

The buses were built in the mid 1930’s by the White Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio. These touring coaches were used in various western parks including Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Zion.  Glacier National Park is the only park that still maintains a fleet of the historic red jammers as they have long been replaced at the other parks.  Now for some more nifty notes about the jammers:

    • The drivers are known as “Gear Jammers”.
    • The buses are called jammers because in the old days you could hear the drivers “jamming” the gears of the manual transmissions.
    • The red buses are 25 feet long and carry 17 passengers.
    • The jammers have roll back canvas tops to afford the passengers the ultimate view of the scenery.
    • They were first used in Glacier in 1939 and continued to roll until 1999 when they were refurbished.  They returned to service in 2001.
    • The red jammers now have automatic transmissions, power steering, and dual propane/gasoline engines.
Tourists take a photo opportunity from the open air top of a Red Jammer.

Red Jammers are reminiscent of our past when adventurous people traveled from far and wide to discover the west.  It was an era when many Americans traveled in style to see the wild and scenic places they had read about in magazines.  We now travel in jeans and T-shirts. But what hasn’t changed is the exceptional beauty of the mountains where the American and Canadian Rockies come together.

Now please watch this short video.  “Jammer Joe”, the spry 81 year old driver with the handle bar mustache from my last post is in it.

Enjoy and let me know if you’ve toured in the jammers!

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