Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park: Road Workers

GyPSy Guide Audio Driving Tour App for Glacier National Park


So, let’s take a survey here. What is the lowest hourly wage you’ve worked for? Over three dollars?  That’s luxury!

The guys that worked on this road would have to have been some of the toughest people I can think of.  As we move up the road, you will see why.

Remember that this was 1920’s and 30’s, entering the Great Depression when men were desperate for work and even though this work was very seasonal – they took it.  It was a hodgepodge of men from all over the world that were paid 50 cents to $1.15/hour.

At the peak of construction over 300 men were scattered through the valley living in tent camps with many different skills and pay.   The labourers were the cheapest to employ and they were the ones down in that 50 cents/hour range.

Cat skinners – those are the guys that drove the bulldozers and graders, were paid the best, along with the “Powder Monkeys. Next to the Powder Monkey…who was the most important person on the crew? The Camp Cook of course!

As well as the dedicated workforce, local farmers and their boys were also hired on and that helped the communities nearby.

One young Montana lad showed up to work as a cat skinner and the foreman waved him off, saying he was too young. The kid replied, “See that guy working the grader? That’s my little brother and I taught him everything he knows.” He got hired on the spot.

As we go along, we will come to some places where there are gaps in the trees and we’ll get a quick but impressive view back up into the mountains where we came from.  I can only imagine how the constructors felt when they looked up to where the plans told them they were supposed to create the road!