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Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Some of the most interesting history of Glacier National Park is
connected with the origin of its place names. The majority of the
park features were named in the early days when the first
exploration and mapping were carried on, between 1880 and 1910.
Often these features were named for some noted person or for some
event that occurred at that place. George Bird Grinnell and James
Willard Schultz are responsible for the predominance of Indian names
given to many of the peaks on the eastern side of the park prior to
1900. Dr. George C. Ruhle in 1938 and 1939 also renamed many of the
park features with either their original Indian names or names that
honored some particular Indian.
The following is by no means the complete list, but includes those
names of historical interest and those of which the origin of the
name is not readily apparent.
ADAIR RIDGE History — Named for W. L. (Billy) Adair, an old timer
who settled on a homestead on Adair Ridge and later ran the store at
AGASSIZ GLACIER (Creek) — Named for the noted Swiss-American
zoologist, geologist and scientist, Louis J. R. Agassiz.
AHERN PASS (Creek, Glacier, Peak) History — Named for Lieutenant
George P. Ahern who, with a detachment of Negro soldiers from the
25th Infantry, crossed this pass in August 1890. This was the first
known successful attempt to take pack stock over Ahern Pass.
AKOKALA CREEK (Lake) — Kootenai name meaning "rotten." The creek was
formerly known as "Indian Creek," and the lake as "Oil Lake."
ALLEN MOUNTAIN (Creek) History — Named for Cornelia Seward Allen,
wife of F. T. Allen of New York, granddaughter of Wm. H. Seward,
Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln.
ALMOST-A-DOG MOUNTAIN — Almost-A-Dog was a Blackfeet Indian, one of
the few survivors of the Baker Massacre of January 23, 1870.
ALTYN PEAK History — This name was given by the miners in the late
1890's to the mountain we now know as Mt. Wynn. As G. B. Grinnell
had previously called the latter "Point Mountain," topographers
later transferred the name to the peak to which it is now applied. A
U. S. Geological Survey map of 1912 also shows this peak as
"McDermott Peak." The name "Altyn" was taken from the little mining
town of Altyn that was situated near the head of Sherburne Lake,
which, in turn, received its name from Dave Greenwood Altyn, one of
the financial backers of the Cracker Lake Mine.
APGAR VILLAGE (Mountain) — Named for Dimon Apgar, one of the early
settlers who came to the foot of Lake McDonald prior to 1900 and
built a home and cabins at the site of the present village of Apgar.
APPEKUNNY MOUNTAIN (Creek, Falls) History — The Indian name for
George Willard Schultz, meaning "White-spotted Robe," or "Scabby
Robe," that is, one that was badly tanned, leaving hard spots.
Schultz was a white who married into the Blackfeet tribe and lived
with them for many years. He was a close friend of George Bird
Grinnell and wrote stories of Indian life for Grinnell's magazine as
well as several books.
APPISTOKI PEAK (Creek, Falls) — Named by R. T. Evans, a topographer
who worked on the early map of the park. It is reported that he
inquired from his Indian guide what word the Blackfeet used for
"looking over something," and the guide, misunderstanding the
meaning of his question, gave him the name "Appistoki," for the
Indian god who looks over everything and everyone.
ATSINA LAKE (Falls) History — The Blackfeet name for their allies,
the Gros Ventre tribe.
AURICE LAKE — For Mrs. Aurice Houston, wife of Dr. Roderick Houston,
a retired dentist who took up a homestead at the foot of Lake
McDonald and operated a cabin camp there until his death in 1950.
"Doc" Houston was a noted fishing guide and took fishing parties
down the rivers adjacent to Glacier National park until just prior
to his death.
AVALANCHE LAKE (Creek) History — Named by Dr. Lyman B. Sperry in
1895 on his first trip into the area, because of the large avalanche
tracks down the walls of the basin surrounding the lake.
BARING CREEK (Falls) — Named for one of the Baring brothers, London
bankers who were guided on a hunting trip into the area in the late
1880's by Joe Kipp and James Willard Scultz.
BELLY RIVER — The origin of this historic name is quite debatable,
and several sources of it have been presented thru history. The
"Glacier National Park Drivers Manual" presents the most complete
story of these varied origins: "The origin of the name is in dispute
although the Belly River the Gros Ventre Indians, and the Big Belly
Buttes upon the river between Cardston and MacLeod (Alberta) are
connected. One belief is as follows: The Blackfeet people had a
custom of apportioning the anatomy of Napi all over the landscape.
His elbow was the Bow River at Calgary. His knees were the Teton
Buttes. Midway lay his stomach, and what more appropriate than the
aforementioned buttes, which to the Indian resembled the contorted
manifold of a buffalo. Hence, they became Mokowanis, or Big Belly
Buttes. The river that flowed at their base became Mokowanis River,
and later, when Indians from Algonquin nations of the southeast
drifted into the region, and established themselves along the river,
these too, became Mokowanis or, simply translated into French, the
'Gros Ventres.' Another version has it that the Gros Ventres were so
called because they 'eat much and have big paunches.' Certainly
their alternative name, Atsina, or Gut People, gives this
interpretation support. The river which flowed through their country
simply took its name from them. The Arrowsmith map of 1802 called
this river Moo-coo-wans, by which name it was sometimes referred to
later. On David Thompson's map of 1814, it was marked
Stec-muk-ske-picken, signifying Bullhead. The Palliser map of 1865
labeled it Oldman River. The reconnaissance maps of the United
States Northern Boundary Commission, 1872-76, labeled it Belly
River, which name has been officially adopted by both the United
States and Canada."
BELTON — Believed to have been named "Bell's Town," or "Belton" for
Daniel Webster Bell, who took up a claim near the townsite at the
time of the construction of the Great Northern Railway and cut ties
for the railroad, He was a Civil War veteran and served as cook for
the location parties of the Great Northern in 1890.
BLACKFOOT GLACIER (Mountain) History — This glacier was discovered
and named for the Blackfeet Indians by George Bird Grinnell on a
trip to the head of the St. Mary Valley in 1891. This glacier was
called "Old Man Ice," by the Kootenai Indians, Red Eagle Glacier was
"Old Woman Ice," Sperry Glacier was "Son Ice," and Pumpelly Glacier
was "Daughter Ice."
BOWMAN LAKE (Creek) — Believed to have been named for Fred Bowman, a
trapper who came to Montana from Wyoming in 1885 and started to trap
on the North Fork of the Flathead, in the area surrounding Bowman
BROWN, MT. History — Named for William Brown of Chicago, then
Solicitor General for the Chicago and Alton Railroad, by some
members of his party on a camping and fishing trip to the area
around Lake McDonald in 1894. The companions, Charles H. Russell
(not the artist) and Frank A. Johnson, climbed this mountain that
arose back of their camp, and so named it.
BROWN PASS — Named for John George (Kootenai) Brown, the first
superintendent of Waterton Lakes National Park, who is reported to
have used this pass on his first trip into the Waterton Lakes area
CALF ROBE MOUNTAIN — Named for a Blackfeet Indian, who, legend
relates, had a weird and unusual experience with a grizzly bear.
Calf Robe was deserted by his fellow warriors in enemy country and
left to die; but he was soon rescued by a large grizzly bear, who
brought him food and carried him to help near Fort Benton. This
incident is supposed to have happened about 1870.
CAMERON LAKE History — Named for D. R. Cameron, British Commissioner
with the International Boundary Commission.
CAMPBELL MOUNTAIN — Some sources state that Campbell was a member of
the Boundary Survey party, but James Willard Schultz attributes the
name to Supt. F. C. Campbell, of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
CANNON, MT. — Named for a young couple who spent their honeymoon in
this region and climbed this mountain, Dr. L. B. Sperry originally
named it "Goat Mountain" in 1894.
CAPER PEAK History — Named by Surveyor R. T. Evans, who is reported
to have counted over 30 goats "capering" on this peak.
CARCAJOU LAKE History — Named for a mythical being of the Cree
Indians, meaning "hungry," or "eats a lot," and from which the
English word "carcajou," for wolverine, is derived.
CARTER GLACIER (Mountain) — For Senator T. H. Carter of Montana, who
introduced into the United States Senate the bill that established
Glacier National Park.
CATTLE QUEEN CREEK History — Mrs. Nat Collins, a woman known as the
"Cattle Queen of Montana" ran a cattle ranch near the present town
of Choteau, Montana, prior to 1900, and had a mining claim along
this creek which she worked for several years.
CHANEY GLACIER — Named after Professor L. W. Chancy of Carleton
College, Northfield, Minnesota, by Dr. Lyman B. Sperry. Dr. Chaney
was a geologist on one of Dr. Sperry's parties into the McDonald
Valley in 1895, on which trip they penetrated this wilderness to the
summit of the Garden Wall and actually went out upon this glacier.
CHAPMAN PEAK History— Named for Robert H. Chapman, of the Geological
Survey, one of the topographers who worked on the mapping of the
park between 1900 and 1904.
CHIEF MOUNTAIN — This geological oddity, standing as it does on the
plains east of the main range, has attracted the attention of
explorers and mapmakers from the earliest times. Its existence was
first noted on the Arrowsmith maps, published in England in 1795 or
1796, upon which it was called "King Mountain." Peter Fidler, who
supplied the information for these maps, visited this area in 1792,
and was the first white man to record having seen this landmark.
Captain Meriwether Lewis is also believed to have seen the mountain
on his trip up the Marias in 1806 and called it "Tower Mountain."
James Doty, who explored the eastern front of the range in 1854 for
Governor Stevens, reports it as "The Chief or King Mountain." We
judge from this that he was referring to it also by the Indian name
of "The Chief." There are two records of the origin of another name
for this peak — "Kaiser Peak" — by which it was known for some time.
Some say it was so-named by early German geographers, but the most
authentic story comes from Eli Guardipee, a member of the Blackfeet
tribe, who stated that it was so named for a "Bull-whacker" (oxen
freighter) named Lee Kaiser, who accidently shot himself near the
present town of Cardston, Alberta, in 1872. For him the creek where
this happened was known as "Lee Creek," and the mountain at its
headwaters was called "Kaiser Peak."
There are many historic legends regarding this mountain, the most
popular being that of the young Flathead Indian brave who spent
several days upon the top of the peak searching for his "medicine
vision," and using a bison skull for a pillow. When Henry L.
Stimson, later Secretary of State, and his companions first climbed
to the top of this mountain in 1892, they were probably the first
white men to do so. There they found an ancient bison skull almost
entirely decomposed, giving considerable authenticity to this
The present name was taken from the Blackfeet Indian name "Old
Chief," or "The Mountain-of-the-Chief," by which it was known to the
Blackfeet, probably because of the above-mentioned legend.
CLEMENTS MOUNTAIN History — Named by Ross Carter for Walter M.
Clements, one of the commissioners who, along with George Bird
Grinnell, negotiated with the Blackfeet and consummated the treaty
that enabled the Federal Government to purchase the "Ceded Strip" of
land that included all of what is now Glacier National Park east of
the Continental Divide.
CLEVELAND, MT. — Named by George Bird Grinnell for former President
Cleveland. Grinnell first saw it in 1898 from the summit of
Blackfoot Mountain, and so named it.
COONSA CREEK History — Named for the Indian guide that accompanied
John F. Stevens on his exploration into Marias Pass in December,
CRACKER LAKE — In 1897 two prospectors, L. S. Emmons and Hank
Norris, were following a mineral lead through the mountains and
stopped on the shore of Cracker Lake (then known as "Blue Lake") for
lunch. When they resumed their journey they put their crackers and
cheese beneath some rocks, intending to return later and pick them
up, which they never did. Thereafter they referred to the mineral
lead that they were following as the "lead where we left the
crackers," and later as the "Cracker Lead." As this lead passed
under the lake, it naturally followed that soon the lake became
known as "Cracker Lake."
CROSSLEY LAKE (Ridge) History — Named for Joe Cosley (erroneously
called Crossley), a half-breed hunter and trapper who often trapped
in this area and later served for some time as a park ranger. This
lake, along with Glenns Lake, is shown on George Bird Grinnell's
1892 map as "Lansing Lakes."
CUSTER, MT. — Probably named for General George A. Custer, who was
killed in the famous Custer Massacre.
CUT BANK CREEK (Pass) History — Named for the cutbanks of white clay
along the creek east of Browning. The old Indian name means
DAWN MIST FALLS — Probably named for the Indian girl who was the
lover of "White Quiver," in the Indian novel by H. F. Sanders.
Original name of the falls was "Morning Dew."
DAWSON PASS History — Named for Thomas Dawson, an old-time guide in
this area, and son of Andrew Dawson, last factor of the American Fur
Company at Fort Benton.
DIXON GLACIER — Named for United States Senator Joseph M. Dixon, of
Montana, who supported the passage of the bill creating Glacier
DOODY, MT. — Named for Dan Doody, who trapped on Nyack and Coal
Creek before the area was made a park, and was one of the first park
rangers after the park was established in 1910.
ELIZABETH LAKE History — Lakes Helen and Elizabeth were named by one
of the surveyors with the U. S. Geological Survey when the area was
first mapped, after his two daughters. This is shown as "Lake Jean"
on a map made by Lt. George P. Ahern in 1891.
ELLEN WILSON, LAKE — Named by Secretary of the Interior Franklin K.
Lane for the wife of former President Woodrow Wilson. This lake was
often called "Lake Louise" by the old timers in the area.
ELLSWORTH, MT. History — Named for "Billy" Ellsworth, an oldtimer
who packed for the U. S. Geological Survey and who also worked on
the Sperry Trail with Dr. Sperry's crew around the turn of the
EVANGELINE LAKE — Named by members of R. H. Sargent's survey party,
1900 to 1904, in honor of the poet Longfellow, author of the poem
"Evangeline." The lake is on the slopes of Longfellow Peak.
FISHERCAP LAKE — Fishercap was the name given to George Bird
Grinnell by the Blackfeet Indians.
FRANCES LAKE History — Named for the wife of a member of the
Northern Boundary Survey.
FUSILLADE MOUNTAIN — Named by George Bird Grinnell in 1891 as a
satirical gesture at W. H. Seward and Henry L. Stimson for firing a
futile volley at a group of goats on the side of this mountain.
GARDEN WALL History — This long, knife-edged ridge, forming that
section of the Continental Divide between Logan and Swiftcurrent
Passes, was so named by one of George Bird Grinnell's parties which
was camped at Grinnell Lake in the late 1890's. One evening, around
a campfire, they were singing the currently popular song, "Over the
Garden Wall," when one of the party remarked, "There is one wall we
cannot get over," and the name was immediately applied to the ridge.
GEDUHN, MT. History — Named for an early pioneer, Frank Geduhn who
had cabins for visitors at the head of Lake McDonald prior to 1900
and who guided the Sperry parties on some of their trips into the
GLENNS LAKE — Named for T. C. Glenns, who was born on an Indian
reservation and who became station assistant and recorder to Mr.
Sargent, U. S. Geological Survey topographer. G. B. Grinnell's map
of 1892 shows this lake, along with Crossley Lake as "Lansing
GOING-TO-THE-SUN MOUNTAIN History — The mountain was named by James
Willard Schultz for what he claimed was an old Indian legend, in
which Napi, the Old Man, came down from his home in the sun to help
his people, the Blackfeet, out of their difficulties. When his work
was done, he returned to his home in the sun, up the slopes of this
mountain. This legend however, was probably invented by the white
men, and may have originated within Schultz, who was not above
flowering up his stories to make them have more reader appeal.
GOULD, MT. — For G. R. Gould of Santa Barbara, California, a hunting
companion of G. B. Grinnell,
GRINNELL GLACIER (Falls, Lake, Mt., Point) History — In 1887 George
Bird Grinnell, the man who was primarily responsible for the
creation of Glacier National Park, made his second trip into the
area on a hunting and exploration journey. On this historic trip he
traveled up the Swiftcurrent Valley to what is now Swiftcurrent
Lake, where he camped. There he noted the immense glaciers at the
heads of the valleys and set out to explore them. On the trip to
Grinnell Glacier he was accompanied by Lt. J. H. Beacon and James
Willard Schultz, time first white men to set foot upon this immense
body of ice, and while there Beacon named the glacier for him. The
other features were later named to correspond. Grinnell Point was at
one time known as Stark Peak, for Parley Stark, an early day miner
who had a claim on the side of the mountain.
GUNSIGHT PASS (Mountain, Lake) History — Named in 1891 by G. B.
Grinnell for its resemblance to the rear sight of a rifle, with the
peak of a distant mountain showing through it like the front sight.
On F. E. Matthes' first maps for the Geological Survey, this peak
was called Mt. Comeau, probably for Denny Comeau, an early settler
at the head of Lake McDonald.
HEAVENS PEAK History — A descriptive name that first appears on a
map prepared by Lt. George P. Ahern of the 25th Infantry, from
reconnaissance maps prepared by him in 1888-1890.
HEAVY RUNNER PEAK — Named for the Blackfeet Indian Chief who was
massacred along with most of his encampment by Col. Eugene M.
Baker's detachment on the Marias River on January 23, 1870.
HELEN LAKE (Mountain) History — There are two sources given for this
name. James Willard Schultz states that it was named for Miss Helen
Clark, a Montana schoolteacher and eldest daughter of Malcolm Clark
who was killed at his ranch near Helena by Blackfeet Indians in
1868. The other source, the Glacier Park Transport Company Manual,
states that Helen and Elizabeth were daughters of a Geological
Survey engineer that worked in the area when the park was first
mapped. (See Elizabeth Lake)
HENKEL, MT. — Named for an early day settler on Lower St. Mary Lake,
locally called "Joe Butch."
HOWE LAKE (Creek, Ridge) History — Named for Charley Howe, the first
homesteader at the foot of Lake McDonald, in 1892.
IPASHA PEAK (Falls, Glacier, Lake) — Named for Ipasha, Good Spotted
Tail, the Mandan Indian mother of Joseph Kipp, an oldtimer in
Glacier National Park.
ISABEL LAKE History — Named for the wife of Thomas Dawson,
part-Indian guide in the early days of the park.
JACKSON, MT. (Glacier) — Named for William Jackson, famous scout and
grandson of Hugh Monroe. Jackson was quarter-breed Piegan and was a
scout with Captain Reno at the time of the Custer Battle, on the
Little Big Horn. Named by G. B. Grinnell.
JANET LAKE History — Named for the wife of a member of the Northern
Boundary Survey party.
JEFFERSON PASS — Thomas "Uncle Jeff" Jefferson, for whom this pass
was named, was an interesting old character who drifted into the
Lake McDonald region in the early days and did packing and other odd
jobs. He was a big man, about 6'6" tall, with a long white beard
which he used to hide his big meersehaum pipe, letting the smoke
curl up through it in a very startling manner.
JOHN F. STEVENS CANYON History — Named for the Great Northern
Railway Company civil engineer who located the Marias Pass for the
construction of the railroad in December 1889.
JOSEPHINE LAKE — The original source of the name "Josephine" is not
known, but the lake evidently received its name from the Josephine
Mine, on the slopes of Grinnell Point immediately above the lake. In
the early days of the park it was often referred to as "Lake
Louise," and James Willard Schultz states that the Blackfeet Indians
called it "Jealous Woman's Lake."
KAINA CREEK (Lake, Mountain) History — Named for the Kaina, or Blood
Indians, of the Blackfeet Nation. The work "Kaina" is Blackfeet for
KAKITOS MOUNTAIN — Kakitos is the Blackfeet name for star. The
mountain often resembles a three-pointed star.
KENNEDY CREEK History — Named for John Kennedy, an Indian trader who
built a trading post near the mouth of this creek in 1874. Shown on
Lt. Robertson's map of 1887 and also on one of G. B. Grinnell's maps
as "Joe's Creek," probably for Joe Kipp.
KINTLA LAKE (Creek, Glacier, Peak) — The only explanation for this
historic name is found in a reported legend of the Kootenai Indians,
to whom the word "Kintla" means "sack." It is reported by the older
Indians that in the olden days in their hunting, camping and
visiting trips they would cross the mountains near this point, but
would never go near the water because it had been reported that one
of the Indians had gone to this lake and had fallen in and
disappeared, meaning that he was drowned and his body did not come
back to the surface. They stated that the lake was like a sack —
after you got in you could not get out.
KIPP CREEK (Mt.) History — Presumed to have been named for Joe Kipp,
a half-breed Indian trapper and hunter of the early days. Joe's
father was Captain James Kipp, who built the trading post at Fort
Piegan, at the mouth of the Marias River in 1831.
KISHENEHN CREEK — Kishenehn is the Kootenai word for "no good," but
history does not record their reason for so naming this stream.
KOOTENAI PASS (Peak) History — Believed to have been named for
Kootenai Brown, the first ranger in charge of Waterton Lakes
National Park, who is reported to have first entered the Waterton
Valley over Kootenai Pass.
LEE CREEK (Ridge) — Believed to have been named for Lee Kaiser, an
early day "bull whacker" who accidently shot himself near the
stream. (See "Chief Mountain")
LENA LAKE History — It appears that the early day topographers, when
first mapping this country, had a habit of naming hitherto unnamed
features for their wives, sweethearts, or daughters. Topographer
Evans, of the Geological Survey, is reported to have named this lake
for his wife.
LEWIS RANGE — Named for Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, who traveled up the Marias River almost to the
park in 1806.
LINCOLN PEAK (Pass, Lake, Falls) History — Eddie Cruger, who packed
"dude" parties out from the Lake McDonald area around the turn of
the century, relates how he named Lincoln Peak for Mrs. Anna T.
Lincoln, matron of a girls' college in Northfield, Minnesota, who
came out during the summer of 1899. Eddie guided the party to the
Sperry area, where they hiked and climbed most of the peaks in the
vicinity. Mrs. Lincoln could not hike or climb with the remainder of
the party, so Eddie took her to Lincoln Pass, from where they made
the easy ascent of Lincoln Peak. There Eddie named the peak for her.
The other adjacent features evidently derived their names from the
peak. Lincoln Lake was at one time called "Little St. Mary Lake,"
and Lincoln Falls was changed to "Beaver Chief Falls" in 1939 or
LITTLE CHIEF MOUNTAIN — Named by G. B. Grinnell in 1887 in honor of
Major Frank North (Little Chief), Chief of the Pawnee Scouts in
Nebraska during the 1860's.
LITTLE DOG MOUNTAIN History — Named by G. B. Grinnell for "Little
Dog," the Blackfeet Indian Chief who, in 1853, told Isaac Stevens,
the new Governor of the Washington Territory, of the existence of
Marias Pass, and started the search for it that lasted until its
exploration by John F. Stevens in 1889.
LOGAN PASS (Creek, Mountain) — Named for Major Wm. R. Logan, first
superintendent of Glacier National Park, from 1910 to 1912.
LOGGING CREEK (Lake, Mountain, Ridge) History — So named because of
extensive logging operations along the lower reaches of the creek
prior to the time the area was made into a park. Early records
indicate that a man by the name of Chisholm cut out a large number
of yellow pine logs in the area in 1891 or 1892, and decked them in
a dry wash near the river, expecting high water to take them out and
down the river. Evidently the river never came this high, for the
remains of these log decks may still be seen, not far from the
Logging Ranger Station.
LONEMAN MOUNTAIN — Named by James Willard Schultz for a noted member
of the Blackfeet Indian tribe. The name was given to the mountain on
a trip up the Nyack Valley in 1902, accompanied by Joseph Kipp, Wm.
Jackson and the noted writer, Emerson Hough.
LONE WALKER MOUNTAIN History — Named for Lone Walker, a great
Blackfeet chief and father-in-law of Hugh Monroe, to whose band
Monroe first attached himself when coming into the Blackfeet
LONGFELLOW PEAK (Creek) — Named by R. H. Sargent, topographer for
the Geological Survey in the early day mapping of the park, in honor
of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Evangeline Lake is on the slopes
of this peak.
McCLINTOCK PEAK History — Named for Walter McClintock, author of
"The Old North Trail," a story of early life with the Blackfeet.
McDONALD, LAKE (Creek, Falls) — In about the year 1878, Duncan
McDonald, son of a Hudson's Bay Company factor, Angus McDonald,
visited this lake, which was then known as "Terry Lake," for General
Terry, an outstanding Indian fighter of the west. Duncan, who had
the job of freighting a large amount of supplies to Canada, had
intended to go up the North Fork of the Flathead, probably over the
present Kishenehn trail route, but, upon finding his way blocked by
a band of unfriendly Indians, he swung eastward and started up the
next adjacent valley paralleling the North Fork. At the close of
day, accompanied by a group of Flathead Indians, he came to the
shores of this lake and camped there overnight. While in camp that
evening he carved his name upon the bark of a birch tree. The next
day he continued his journey, reaching Canada safely. The tree
bearing his name remained for many years near the present village of
Apgar. People who saw the name on the tree gradually began to call
it "McDonald's Lake," and so the name became fixed.
McPARTLAND MOUNTAIN History — Believed to have been named for Frank
McPartland, of eastern Montana, who worked around Lake McDonald for
two seasons and was drowned in a boating accident on the lake in the
MARIAS (Muh-RYE-us) PASS (Pass, River) — This pass derived its name
from the Marias River, one branch of which heads in the pass. The
river, in turn, was so-named in 1805 by Captain Meriwether Lewis of
the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in honor of Miss Maria Wood, cousin
of Captain Clark. The Flathead Indians called it "Eneas Pass," for
Chief Eneas, but the Blackfeet called it the "Big Gap."
MATAHPI PEAK History — The name, meaning "Face Mountain," was the
old Blackfeet name for Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, because of the
snow field that resembles the head of an Indian Chief near the
eastern summit of the latter peak, when viewed from the east at
certain times of the year. The name was erroneously applied by white
men to the small peak immediately north of Going-to-the-Sun
MEDICINE GRIZZLY LAKE — Named for the legendary "Medicine Grizzly"
which inhabited Cut Bank Valley, and whose story is told in
McClintock's "Old North Trail." This grizzly was reported killed by
Chance Beebe, U. S. Biological Survey hunter from Columbia Falls,
MERRITT, MT. History — Named for General Wesley Merritt, U. S. Army.
MICHE WABUN LAKE (Falls, Glacier, Peak) — Named from the Cree Indian
name of the Great White Rabbit, once the great sun god of the Crees.
MORNING STAR LAKE History — Named for an Indian princess whose story
is told in McClintock's "Old North Trail."
NORRIS MOUNTAIN — Named by G. B. Grinnell for Hank Norris, a squaw
man who became a member of the Blackfeet tribe, and was a noted
mountaineer and hunter. Norris was reported to have owned all the
allotment between the two St. Mary Lakes before the park was
created, and was one of the men responsible for the naming of
NYACK CREEK History — Origin of this name is unknown, although used
for this stream prior to 1910. It has also been called "Mud Creek"
(Major Logan) and "Gibbon Creek" (F. E. Mathes).
OBERLIN, MT. (Falls) — Named by Dr. L. B. Sperry for Oberlin
College. Oberlin Falls was later re-named "Birdwoman Falls."
OLD SUN GLACIER History — Named for Old Sun, or Ntas, great sun
priest of the Blackfeet. This name was suggested by J. W. Schultz
for Mt. Merritt, upon whose flank this glacier rests.
OTATSO CREEK (Lake) — "Otatso" is the Blackfeet word for "Walking
Stooped," the Indian name for John Kennedy, who built a trading post
at the mouth of Kennedy Creek. For many years this creek was known
as "Kennedy Creek" or the "North Fork of Kennedy Creek."
OTOKOMI MOUNTAIN (Lake) — Named by G. B. Grinnell for Otokomi
(Yellowfish), a part Blackfeet Indian who accompanied Grinnell on
his early expeditions into this region. Otokomi's English name was
Rose, so Roes Basin and Roes Creek nearby resulted from a
misspelling of his name. Early topographers sometimes called this
mountain "Whitefish" Mountain probably an erroneous translation of
PARKE PEAK (Creek, Ridge) History — Named for John G. Parke, chief
astronomer for the International Boundary Survey party.
PIEGAN MOUNTAIN (Falls, Glacier, Pass) — Named by James Willard
Schultz in 1885 for the Piegan tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Nation.
PINCHOT, MT. (Creek) — Named for Gifford Pinchot, forester and first
chief of the United States Forest Service.
PITAMAKAN PASS (Lake) History — Named for Running Eagle (Pitamakan),
the Blackfeet Joan of Arc. Running Eagle was a warrior girl that led
war parties on many highly successful raids and was the only woman
in the Blackfeet tribe ever to do so or to be given a man's name.
Pitamakan Pass was originally named Cut Bank Pass, but the latter
name was given to the pass between Mt. Morgan and Flinsch Peak.
POLLOCK MOUNTAIN — Named by Ross Carter for W. C. Pollack, a member
of the Indian Commission appointed by the Secretary of the Interior
to buy from the Indians the strip of land along the eastern side of
PUMPELLY GLACIER (Pillar) History — Named for Raphael Pumpelly of
Newport, R. I., leader of the Northern Transcontinental Railway
Survey party that crossed Pitamakan Pass in 1883. On this trip was
Major Logan, who later became the first superintendent of Glacier
RED EAGLE MOUNTAIN (Creek, Glacier, Lake, Pass) — James Willard
Schultz states that the name was given to the mountain by his Indian
wife in 1887, for her uncle, Red Eagle, who had saved their son's
life with his prayers to the Sun.
REUTER PEAK History — Probably named for Jack Reuter, an old-timer
who settled on Big Prairie, on the North Fork not far from the foot
of this peak.
REYNOLDS MOUNTAIN (Creek) — Named by George Bird Grinnell for a
member of his "Forest and Stream" staff.
RISING WOLF MOUNTAIN History — Rising Wolf was the Indian name for
Hugh Monroe, the first white man to live with the Blackfeet Indians.
The name is said to have been suggested by Monroe's habit of getting
out of bed in the morning on his hands and knees.
ROES BASIN (Creek) — Named for Otokomi (Yellowfish), a part
Blackfeet Indian who accompanied G. B. Grinnell on his early
expeditions into this region. Otokomi's English name was Rose, but
early cartographers misspelled it as Roes, and Roes Creek and Roes
Basin were the result. Roes Lake was later renamed Otokomi.
RUGER LAKE History — Named for Thomas H. Ruger, a Civil War general
who commanded a large part of the Dakota and Montana territory
ST. MARY LAKE (Falls, River) — There is much controversy over the
history and origin of this name as applied to St. Mary Lakes. J. W.
Schultz states that Father Pierre DeSmet, the Belgian Missionary
named the lakes, but DeSmet's papers and records do not indicate
that he ever reached the lake. Other accounts state that the name
was given to the St. Mary River by the International Boundary Survey
party in 1870. It is more probable that the name was given by Hugh
Monroe, the first white man to live with the Blackfeet Indians,
probably shortly after first arriving in the country in 1814.
The Piegan Indians called these lakes the "Walled-in Lakes," while
the Kootenais called them "Old Woman Lakes." Mr. James Doty, one of
Governor Stevens exploration party chiefs who explored and mapped
much of the eastern front of the range, camped on the Lower St. Mary
Lake in May 1854. He called the upper lake "Bow Lake" and the lower
one "Chief Mountain Lake." Later maps of the International Boundary
Commission erroneously applied the latter name to the present
Waterton Lake, despite the fact that Doty specifically stated in his
history reports that his survey showed the lake and its environs to
be wholly within American territory and more than ten miles south of
the boundary. He gives the exact location. The outlet of St. Mary
Lakes, now called the St. Mary River, was called Mo-Ko-Un, or "Belly
River," by the Blackfeet a name now applied to the stream farther
SCALPLOCK MOUNTAIN History — Named for a small tuft of trees
resembling an Indian's scalplock that remained on its summit
following the fire that destroyed the remaining timber.
SEWARD MOUNTAIN — Named by George Bird Grinnell for William H.
Seward, Secretary of State under President Lincoln. The name was
originally applied to the entire ridge from Seward Mountain, which
is north and east, to Chief Mountain, previously known as "Seward's
SHEPARD GLACIER History — Named for E. R. Shepard, a photographer
for the Chaney-Sperry party.
SHERBURNE LAKE (Peak) — Named for J. J. Sherburne, a
secretary-treasurer of the Swiftcurrent Oil, Land and Power Co.,
which drilled for oil near the site of the present Sherburne Dam in
SHIELDS CREEK (Mountain) History — Named for an old timer, Mr.
Shields, a polished idler from Virginia whose wife ran a store at
SINGLESHOT MOUNTAIN — So named by James Willard Schultz because G.
B. Grinnell is reported to have killed a running bighorn sheep there
with a single shot.
SINOPAH MOUNTAIN History — Sinopah, meaning "kit fox" in Blackfeet,
was the Indian wife of Hugh Monroe (Rising Wolf) and daughter of
Lone Walker, a powerful Blackfeet chief.
SIYEH, MT. (Creek, Glacier, Pass) — Named by G. B. Grinnell for a
Blackfeet Indian, "Sai-yeh," in Blackfeet means Crazy Dog, or Mad
SNYDER CREEK (Ridge, Lake) History — George Snyder was an early
settler near the head of Lake McDonald, who built the first hotel
there in 1895, at the site of the present Lake McDonald Lodge. He
also put the first power boat on the lake, a steamboat which he used
to carry passengers to his hotel.
SPERRY GLACIER — Named for Dr. Lyman B. Sperry of Oberlin College,
Ohio, the "Gentleman Explorer," who led the first party to reach the
glacier in 1896, and who later was responsible for the building of
the first trail to this glacier over approximately the same route as
the present one.
SQUAW MOUNTAIN History — A descriptive name given because of a high
block of stone that stands on the eastern slope of the mountain, the
"Old Squaw," resembling an Indian woman wearing a shawl or blanket.
Tom Dawson states that the old Indian legend tells how the squaws
went up on high points to serve as lookouts and signal when the men
were on a buffalo hunt, and the rock of Squaw Mountain is symbolic
of the Blackfeet woman waiting with infinite patience for the return
of the buffalo. The name has since been formally changed to "Dancing
Lady", due to controversy over the use of the word Squaw.
STANTON MOUNTAIN — Named for Lottie Stanton, a pioneer woman who
followed the construction camps during the railroad building days.
STIMSON, MT. (Creek) History — Named by G. B. Grinnell for Henry L.
Stimson, later Secretary of State, who was a member of one of
Grinnell's parties in 1891. The name was originally applied to the
present Mt. Logan, the present Mt. Stimson then being called Mt.
James. The change to the present names was probably made by the
topographers when the park was mapped.
STONEY INDIAN LAKE (Pass, Peaks) — Named for the Stoney Indians, a
branch of the Assiniboine Sioux.
SWIFTCURRENT CREEK (Falls, Glacier, Lake, Mountain, Pass, Ridge)
History — This name was originally applied to the stream by G. B.
Grinnell in 1885 or 1886 after the Indian name, "Swift Flowing
River." Swiftcurrent Lake was also named by Grinnell but was later
changed to Lake McDermott after a local lumberman in the late
1890's, then officially changed back to Swiftcurrent in 1928.
Swiftcurrent Pass was once known as Horsethief Pass, for the
Blackfeet horses that were reported to have been driven over it
after horse-stealing raids.
THUNDERBIRD FALLS (Glacier, Mountain) — Named for the Thunder Bird,
common in the Indian myths of this region.
TINKHAM MOUNTAIN History — Lieutenant A. W. Tinkham was an Army
engineer sent by Governor Isaac Stevens to look for Marias Pass and
who, in the fall of 1853, crossed Pitamakan Pass, thinking it was
the Marias. His was the first recorded journal of the crossing of a
pass in the park by a white man.
TRIPLE DIVIDE PEAK (Pass) — The waters from this peak flow into
three major drainages: the Hudson's Bay, through the St. Mary and
Saskatchewan; the Pacific, through the Flathead and Columbia; and
the Gulf of Mexico, through the Missouri-Mississippi.
TWO MEDICINE CREEK (Lakes, Pass) — This name is reported to have
been derived from the name "Two Medicine Lodge Creek," so called
because at one time there were two "medicine lodges" located on
either side of the creek.
VAUGHT, MT. History — Named for L. O. Vaught, of Jacksonville,
Illinois, who spent his summers in the park for many years.
WALTON CREEK (Mountain) — Named for the patron saint of fishermen,
Izaak Walton, because of the good fishing in the area.
WATERTON LAKES (River, Valley) History — These lakes were first
visited by a party from the British Palliser Expedition in 1858, led
by Captain T. W. Blakiston. While encamped upon the shores of the
lakes, Blakiston named them for Charles Waterton, an eminent English
WHITE CALF MOUNTAIN — Named for the last head of the Piegan
Blackfeet, by the surveyors of the strip of land ceded to the U. S.
Government by the Blackfeet in 1896.
WHITE QUIVER FALLS History — Name suggested by H. A. Noble of the
Glacier Hotel Company, after "White Quiver," the hero in a novel
written by H. F. Sanders. Formerly known as "Washboard Falls."
WILBUR, MT. (Creek) — Named by G. B. Grinnell in 1885, for E. R.
Wilbur, one of Grinnell's partners in the Forest and Stream
WINDMAKER LAKE History — Wind Maker was a mythical being of
Blackfeet mythology, whose home was in the waters of this lake at
the head of the Swiftcurrent Valley, and who caused the wind to blow
so furiously from the mountains.
WYNN, MT. — Named for Frank B. Wynn, physician and scientist who was
killed in an attempt to climb Mt. Siyeh on July 27, 1927. This
mountain was originally named "Point Mountain" by George Bird
Grinnell on his map of 1885-92. Later the miners from the mining
town of Altyn, near the head of Sherburne Lake, named it Altyn,
after their town, and in 1927 topographers transferred this name to
a mountain overlooking Swiftcurrent where it remained, and renamed
the former mountain, "Mt. Wynn."