Two Men in Front of Homestead Cabin, NPS photoAltyn, an old mining townsite near Many Glacier, NPS photoEarly North Fork homesteader Thomas Jefferson (Uncle Jeff), NPS photo

By the middle of the 1800s, the mountainous region of Glacier National Park had been discovered and explored by early white explorers. The Blackfeet continued to dominate the region until the 1870s. However, white settlers would soon start to take a foothold in the area as greater interest in exploration and exploitation of resources increased.

With railroad tracks over Marias Pass completed in 1891, the relative ease of venturing further west increased the number of homesteads in the area. People came to the area to run trap lines, establish home sites, prospect for coal, metals, and oil, or just enjoy the scenery. Also in 1891, families began to establish home sites at the foot of Lake McDonald. These early homesteaders, Charlie Howe, Milo Apgar, and Frank Geduhn, relied on hunting and trapping as the land was unsuitable for farming.

The existing wagon road up the North Fork became the western boundary of the park when Glacier was established in 1910. Forty-four homesteads to the east of the new boundary then became inholdings within Glacier. A rich history of characters, from the first rangers to innovative bootleggers, helped to define the early years of Glacier.