A Short Introduction to the Site
Evidence of these businesses in the form of souvenirs, photos, and various forms of memorabilia has been collected for almost 25 years and is displayed as part of the vast “Montana” collection at the Miracle of America Museum (MOAM), just south of Polson. Gil Mangels, founder of this non-profit museum, is happy to show you where these souvenirs, advertising items, and other memorabilia are displayed. Items may be as tiny as a spoon, or matchbook, and other trinkets, to vintage state highway maps.
Full Description of the Historical Site or Museum
“Enchanting – Alluring – Majestic Glacier National Park. Whatever adjectives you use is OK and it could even be profitable. For decades, entrepreneurs have used the draw of Glacier National Park (GNP) to benefit their existing company or start a business.
Magazine ads from National Geographic to Cappers Farmer, tout viewing the beauty of GNP by Great Northern Railway’s Empire Builder. The more persons that the railroad could entice to buy a ticket and become a GN traveler, of course, the more GN could “Build the Empire”, to use a play on words.
Many tourists would attach a felt banner to their car’s radio antenna, or use windshield stickers, luggage stickers, or license plate toppers to brag that they were among the fortunate who had been to Glacier National Park. Sold by numerous souvenir and gift shops (sometimes called tourist traps) these items made money and the Park received free advertising.
While the Montana Highway Commission and some Department of the Interior maps were printed for free distribution, many others printed maps and travel guides for sale. The MOAM is believed to have Montana’s largest and most complete collection of road maps on permanent display. The beautiful cover art certainly used the breathtaking beauty of GNP a good share of the time. A 1941 Montana Highway map states, “We have more scenery than we can handle by ourselves – Come and help us look at it.” Intermountain Bus Lines time tables, dating back to the late 40s advertise, “The Mountain Route to Glacier Park.” Some of the books or booklet titles in the MOAM’s exhibits and collections date back to 1924.
In the “MOAM Village” behind the main building, outside displays show an important part of GNP’s winter history. The lineup includes four rare vehicles, such as one of GNP’s first snowplows, a one-of-a-kind, maintenance-shop built Snowtrac, and a 1952 Tucker Snow Cat, which had tracks on the rear and skis on the front. The ingenuity of the Park Crew is indicative of the spirit of the early-day pioneers.
In the “Museum Village” you’ll also glimpse other GNP references as well in various parts of the museum. The 45” X 65” picture of Glacier spent its early days in the Proctor Hotel, but now it is part of the recreated 1912 bank at the museum. The vintage motorcycle collection displays photos of adventurous early day bikers in GNP. Harley Davidson “Enthusiast” magazine covers from the 1930s to the 50s, often feature touring bikers with prominent Park features as a backdrop. Displayed here is a September 3, 1929 motorcycle permit with unusual instructions such as "Sound your horn, Stay out of ruts" and “Horse drawn vehicles have the right of way.” The cyclist, upon writing his mother stated, “It is beautiful but cold up here. Only wish I had longer to stay” He was headed home to Long Beach California the next morning.
The MOAM collection is an important part of the Glacier Park Story. The livelihood of many individuals and families is owed to the opportunities the Park provided. The MOAM collection is a tribute to the ingenuity and imagination of those brave souls who ventured forth, gambled, or even dared to hang their “Open for Business” shingle out for all to see. Many of the displayed articles not only put beans on the table, they also helped bring more visitors to Montana and the Park. The MOAM is happy to be a part of preserving the GNP’s rich history.”