Author: Michael J. Ober
Historic Photographs of Glacier National Park
by Michael J. Ober
This book is a wonderful collection of images and stories that tell of the early years of Glacier National Park, from the park's creation in 1910 to the post-war boom in automobile travel. The striking black and white photographs show many of the people and places that helped make Glacier the "Crown of the Continent". The rare images and informative text were compiled by Michael J. Ober, a Montana historian and longtime seasonal ranger at Glacier.
Michael Ober was born and raised in Havre, Montana, and attended the University of Montana and the University of Denver earning Master’s degrees in History and Information and Library Science. Since 1975 he has been a faculty member at Flathead Valley Community College and Director of Library Services and has taught Montana History there for nearly two decades. His seasonal career with the National Park Service in Glacier National Park began in 1967 as a fireguard at Logging Ranger Station and has included duty stations at Kintla, Polebridge, Lake McDonald, Walton, and Belly River. In addition to fire control positions, he has held positions as backcountry ranger and law enforcement ranger.
Glacier National Park’s early history revealed in photo book
A new book celebrating Glacier National Park’s centennial this year contains more than 100 rarely seen historic photographs of the park. “Glacier Album” by Michael Ober is a wonderful collection of images and stories that tell of Glacier’s early years from the park’s creation in 1910 to the post-war boom in automobile travel. The striking black and white photographs show many of the people and places that helped make Glacier the “Crown of the Continent.”
The photos were gleaned from collections at the Montana Historical Society, the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, the James J. Hill Reference Library at the University of Minnesota, and the park’s photographic archives. The engaging and varied images include early travel and camping in the park, chalets and hotels built by the Great Northern Railway, construction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and then-and-now images of the park’s glaciers.
The striking images and informative text were compiled by Michael J. Ober, a Montana historian and longtime seasonal ranger at Glacier. Ober is a faculty member at Flathead Valley Community College and the college’s Director of Library Services.
FVCC Library Director Authors Book In Conjunction With Glacier's Centennial
Over the years, Michael Ober, Flathead Valley Community College Library director, Montana historian and long-time seasonal ranger at Glacier National Park, has collected hundreds of black and white photos of Glacier National Park’s earliest years. The images, largely taken by ordinary park visitors, capture roughly the first 40 years of the park. Most of the images have never been seen or published before—until now.
As Glacier National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, Ober thought this would be an ideal time present the photos to the public providing them with a intimate look at the most significant years of the Park.
“The first 40 years of Glacier Park were the Park’s biggest years,” said Ober. “They laid down the foundation of what the Park is today.”
To honor the Park’s anniversary, Ober compiled the photos he collected from photo archives at Glacier Park, the Minnesota Historical Society, The University of Montana Mansfield Library and the Montana Historical Society and combined them with captions and narrative to produce the photo-documentary Glacier Album: Historic Photographs of Glacier National Park.
“Part of the pleasure in producing such a title comes in the tangential discovery of hundreds of photographs taken by ordinary park visitors,” said Ober. “I cling to the belief that humans still like to look at pictures of other humans doing human things.”
The images and stories found in the book represent the early development years of the Park from its establishment on May 11, 1910 to the post-war boom in automobile travel. According to Ober, they worked well to highlight the history of Glacier’s earliest years just after the close of the second World War when a robust American traveling public was beginning to embrace color film to record their journeys.
“The end of the war meant the end of black and white,” he said.
Ober notes the photographs have immediate interpretive value and yield endless opportunities for the imagination.
“A historic photo halts everything: the clothing, equipment, time of day, the season, weather and the lingering faces of people who age no more.”
Perhaps it couldn’t be better said than by summer tourist Igna Westfall who inscribed the following on the back of her 1921 snapshot photo: “I packed my brave little camera and ample films as I was determined to record the smiles of our children amid the high peaks…”
"The cold does not counter the innate beauty. 'Glacier Album: Historic Photographs of Glacier National Park' is a collection of back and white photograph of this wonderful national park in Montana, focusing on its early days in the post war-boom where automobile travel came into major prominence. Displaying the sights of the area, and offering historical context, 'Glacier Album' is an intriguing take and a solidly recommended pick for any lover of nature and historical photography."
-Midwest Book Review