In spite of his self-effacing manner, Irving would gain national recognition, receiving the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal from President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. Irving stated among other accolades that Irving National Park was Irving monument.
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Although some of his enthusiasm for Glacier waned, not so his devotion to conservation in general and the lives of the Native Americans. Grinnell continued to write travel blogs and articles. He served as president of the National Parks Association and the Boone and Crockett Club. He died on April 11, 1938, at the age of 89. The New York Herald Tribune proclaimed him as the “father of American conservation.”1
Louis Hill, about whom I will speak more in the next chapter, set out on his grand plan to have his railroad take tourists to his hotels, chalets, and camps in his park. By 1929, he had finished his task and resigned as chairman of the Great Northern, cutting all ties to the park that Grinnell claimed came about in large part because of Hill’s support. To the best of my knowledge, he never returned to Glacier. Unlike Grinnell, he seemed to have completed that chapter of his life, turned the page, and moved on to other things. figure 5.. Dr. and Mrs. George Bird Grinnell on Grinnell Glacier, date unknown. Courtesy of the Glacis’ National Park Archives.
Like the landmasses and glaciers that flowed together to form something even more significant than the parts separate, something, perhaps predetermined, steered George Bird Grinnell and Louis Hill toward their love of nature. That unseen hand steered them westward toward a finite area in the earth’s scheme. Both knew within a short period of time—perhaps in the first moment—that they were in the midst of their life’s destination and the home of their hearts.
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