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Pursuit buys Belton Chalet

CHRIS PETERSON Hungry Horse NewsMay 21, 2019

Pursuit, the company that was formerly known as Glacier Park Inc., announced Tuesday it had purchased the historic Belton Chalet in West Glacier. Terms were not disclosed.

Rumors of the chalet’s sale had been circulating for more than a year. In 1997 Cass Still and Andy Baxter completely restored the chalet and it’s been owned and operated by the family up until the sale announcement. The family could not be immediately reached for comment.

In 2014, Glacier Park Inc. bought the West Glacier were properties owned by the Lundgren family. The Lundgrens sold their West Glacier holdings, some vacant land on Riverbend Drive, and their cabins in Apgar.

Pursuit is now building a new RV Park and campground on the Riverbend Drive property. It’s slated to open - at least the first phase - this summer.

Regionally, company also owns the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, the St. Mary Lodge in St. Mary and the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park. The addition of the Belton bookends Glacier Park with Pursuit business holdings.

“We are delighted to welcome the Belton Chalet to our extraordinary collection of iconic experiences,” said Gary Rodgers, Vice President and General Manager, Glacier Park Collection, a division of Pursuit. “As one of the few remaining great hotels built by the Great Northern Railroad more than 100 years ago, we will continue to thoughtfully preserve the authenticity of this incredible place.”

“There is a rich heritage to many of our properties and the Belton Chalet fits perfectly into our growing collection of iconic, unforgettable and inspiring travel experiences,” said David Barry, President, Pursuit. “At Pursuit, we remain dedicated to keeping our history vibrant and meaningful while re-investing in these incredible places and within our local communities.”

The Belton Chalet features a renowned hospitality and culinary journey that’s revered by the local community and visitors alike and showcases the history and culture of Glacier National Park. The elevated dining experience focuses on sourcing fresh, regional fare while the adjoining Tap Room features craft spirits and brews carefully selected from across Montana, the company said in a release.

The Belton Chalet is a national historic landmark. It was built in 1910 by Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway, the same year Glacier became a national park.

Two cottages were finished in 1911 and the original dormitory, now known as the lodge, was opened in 1913, all furnishings with arts and crafts style interiors freighted in from St. Paul, according to the Lodge’s website. A long arbor connected the railway station to the landscaped gardens of the chalet, which was the only front country facility operated by the Great Northern until 1929 when Lake McDonald Lodge was acquired.

By that year, The Belton had been overshadowed by the grand Many Glacier Hotel and Glacier Park Hotel at East Glacier, so with the arrival of automobile touring and the Great Depression, the chalet began a steady decline, historians note.

The Great Northern sold the Belton Chalet after World War II and it passed through a series of owners for 50 years who operated the restaurant and bar sporadically. During this period many of the structures built by Louis Hill in the Park were demolished because of lack of maintenance.

But the Belton survived demolition and now is a popular tourist destination in the region.

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