Historic Classification V

historic image of the Two Medicine Chalet complex

Exterior, circa 1914

historic image of the Two Medicine Chalet complex

Approaching from the road, circa 1920. Only the building on the right remains; today it is the Two Medicine Store.

Two Medicine Chalet Glacier NP 1914
Classification V
Location:
Two Medicine Lake, Montana
Theme: Swiss Chalet; National Park Rustic "Parkitecture" with irregular floorplan.
Remaining Structure: Now the Two Medicine Store. Originally a 4,000 sq. ft. kitchen and dining room. Two story log walls, cement chinking; wood shingles, clipped gable roof; two stone chimneys. Concrete foundation.
Original Architect: Glacier Park Hotel Company, possibly Samuel Bartlett
Construction: Glacier Park Hotel Company (later renamed Glacier Park Company), subsidiary of Great Northern Railway. Most aspects of design and construction were controlled by Louis Hill, president of GN Railway.
Known Timeline:
Construction begins, 1912
Construction completed, 1912
Boathouse Constructed (not affiliated with Chalet), 1936
Lodging Discontinued, 1941-1942 (some sources state 1953)
Two Medicine operated as camp store, 1940s to present
Lodging Structures razed & burned, 1956
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, May 28, 1987
Current room count: 0

Observations

Two Medicine Chalet, also called Two Medicine Lodge, or simply Two Medicine, was one of the semi-rustic backcountry vacation destinations developed by the Great Northern Railway to promote passenger service to Glacier National Park. Of the numerous "chalets" that were built, only Sperry, Granite Park, and Two Medicine remain. Two Medicine is now a snack bar/curio shop/camp store; the first two continue to offer lodging. Of the many structures built at Two Medicine Chalet, this store is the only one to remain standing; it served as the kitchen and dining hall when the Chalet was operational.

two medicine lodge circa 1985

above, this 1985 photo by L.S. Harrison of the National Park Service is more or less what Two Medicine Store looks like today.

The History & The Experience

Roughing it...in Luxury

By today's standards the lodging at Two Medicine would've been viewed as primitive, but that would not mean it would be any less successful as a lodging operation. Compared to alpine camps such as Tuolumne Meadows Lodge at Yosemite -- which are perpetually sold out months in advance -- the cabins and rooms at Two Medicine were luxurious by comparison.

During the operational years at Two Medicine the alpine camp experience was regarded as the ultimate mountain holiday. Rooms were well maintained, meals were provided in compelling group atmosphere, and the central campfire provided a quiet end to the day. Guests left refreshed and invigorated by the cool mountain air. The attraction was such that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stayed at Two Medicine Chalet in 1934, and in fact gave a radio address from the premises.

Today Two Medicine is simply a camp store and contact station for wilderness camping and backcountry pursuits. Now removed by more than half a century, it requires significant imagination to envision the once-thriving lodge complex. The store is a step back in time, although only a single table and chairs are said to remain from the lodging era. There is also a protected boathouse nearby; although this was built later and the concession was operated separately, it provides some insight into the past.

two medicine Swanson boathouse

above, the Swanson Boathouse was built in 1936. Although not affiliated with the Chalet, it fit the visual theme and is today a protected structure. Photo courtesy the National Park Service.

Classification

Historic Classification V

The Two Medicine Chalet played an important role in the brief history of park lodging, and all efforts should be made to study and preserve the remaining structures. Because it no longer provides overnight accommodations, it is classified Historic by the National Park Lodge Architecture Society.

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native americans at two medicine

This photo was taken of an Indian encampment at the time Two Medicine opened; these "camps" were arranged in conjunction with the Railway to lend a romantic element and an air of authenticity to the "western" experience.





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