By Dillon Tabish, 2-15-12
|Caption: Belly River Ranger Station cabin in January. - Photo courtesy Glacier National Park.
The cabin was damaged during a winter storm in late December or early January. More than half of the roof shingles and a quarter of the roof were blown off by high winds, leaving the cabin directly exposed to rain and snow. A significant amount of snow accumulated inside the structure resulting in water and ice damage to the flooring, interior finishes, furnishings, and equipment. The storm also damaged a jack-leg fence at the site.[End of article]
The damage was discovered by a resource management crew conducting work in the area during the second week of January.
In anticipation of additional damage to the historic and culturally significant structure, including loss of the entire roof, and destruction of furnishings and equipment inside the cabin, an emergency response plan was created. A four-person crew and materials were flown to the site via helicopter. The crew removed snow from the building, constructed a temporary roof, heated the cabin with the wood stove to dry out the building and furnishings, and inventoried the site to help prepare for final repairs this summer. After four days of intense work, the crew skied out.
Anyone that may be in the surrounding area of the cabin is encouraged to use caution and be on the lookout for debris materials. Nails, ripped shingle pieces and wood debris are scattered about the area. Some of the debris was picked up, but some of the debris is buried in snow and may be a potential hazard, especially as the snow melts.
The Belly River Ranger Station was built in 1925 and is a significant cultural resource listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The station has been in use since it was built, housing rangers, trail crews and others. It is an integral part of Glacier’s cultural legacy, and contributes to the unique character of the park’s backcountry landscape. The Belly River Ranger Station complex retains the classic configuration of structures (combination residence and office, barn, woodshed and fire cache) with few intrusions and excellent physical integrity. The local legendary Joe Cosley, the first Belly River District Ranger, lived at this site in the early years.
Support from the Glacier National Park Fund helped with the emergency response plan. The Fund assists the park with preservation of historic structures within the park, and is an official partner of the park.