“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
West Glacier in Flathead County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

Time Machines

The Red Bus Rides Again

Time Machines Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 21, 2011
1. Time Machines Marker
A Glacier Tradition

National parks often seem timeless and are valued for the continuity of experience they offer to generations of visitors. At Glacier National Park, the past and future come together through a fleet of historic buses, time machines for a unique touring experience across the crown of the continent.

Glacier's time machines are refurbished vintage White Motor Company touring buses. These bright red icons of Going-to-the-Sun Road have been taking passengers through the park for nearly 70 years, providing sightseers an opportunity to enjoy Glacier's spectacular scenery and wildlife free from the distraction of driving. The red buses hold the record for the longest continuous service of any fleet in the United States, and perhaps the world; but, these old veterans needed some special attention....

Back for the Future

Glacier's time machines needed an upgrade. By 1999, the buses were still running on mostly 1930's technology. Concerns about safety brought the fleet to a standstill and the buses were puled from service. Seasons unfolded, but without the familiar flash
Red Bus behind Lake McDoanld Lodge image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 21, 2011
2. Red Bus behind Lake McDoanld Lodge
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of red, the landscape was incomplete. Everyone mourned the loss, so linked were the buses to Glacier's history and spirit.

The big break came when Ford Motor Company stepped in with a plan to rehabilitate the buses with new technology. The outdated red buses could be brought back to life, using modern engineering to save a cultural treasure while making the buses safer, cleaner, fuel efficient, and more comfortable. In June 2002, the plan became reality. And now a new generation of travelers will ride the red buses once again.

What's New with the Old Red Buses

• Ford E-450 chassis stretched to original wheel base
• 5.4L V8 bi-fuel engine using LPG
• Aluminum honeycomb floor to increase strength
• Emissions are 93% cleaner
• Lighter-weight rear door and body reinforcement
• Upgraded glass and lighting
• Upgraded instrument panel
• Body painted with environmentally friendly paint

Getting Around Glacier

Build it and they will come. Directors of the Great Northern Railway saw the financial wisdom in such a motto and found Glacier National Park the perfect place to implement it. The Great Northern constructed a series of hotels and chalets throughout the park, each within an easy day's travel from each other. Visitors arrived by rail and then toured the
Going-To-The-Sun-Road image. Click for full size.
By Dan Fisher, July 18, 2011
3. Going-To-The-Sun-Road
park on horseback and in stage coaches. As roads were constructed around the park, motorized transportation became the preferred means of travel. Full-time motorized transportation in Glacier began in the 1914 season. The buses went through a series of upgrades as technology advanced and roads improved.

Partners in Preservation

The red bus project required a team of over 200 experts and took nearly three years to complete. The Ford Motor company shared its environmental leadership, vision, and generosity with the project. The following partners were instrumental in making the red buses ride again.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Roads & Vehicles. A significant historical month for this entry is June 2002.
Location. 48° 37.022′ N, 113° 52.729′ W. Marker is in West Glacier, Montana, in Flathead County. Marker can be reached from Lake McDonald Lodge Loop 0.1 miles west of Going-To-The-Sun-Road. Marker is located on the east side of Lake McDonald Lodge. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: West Glacier MT 59936, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wilderness Architecture (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Boats (within shouting distance of this marker); A Glacial Lake (approx. 0.4 miles away); Horns
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(approx. 9.1 miles away); Stephen Tyng Mather (approx. 9.2 miles away); Choosing a Route (approx. 10.2 miles away); Motoring In (approx. 15½ miles away).
More about this marker. On the bottom center are photos of the red bus with the caption:

1914 The first touring cars had no windows. Canvas curtains could be lowered to protect passengers during inclement weather.

1927 Two special White model 54's were added to the fleet (pictured) as well as eight long-wheelbase Cadillac touring cars.

1936 Glacier adds 18 new White model 706 buses to augment trips across Going-to-the-Sun Road. Additional buses were added through 1939.

2002 Thirty-three of the original 1936-37 White buses are refurbished by the Ford Motor company and returned to service at Glacier National Park.
Also see . . .  Glacier National Park. U.S. National Park Service (Submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 516 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.   3. submitted on August 1, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Apr. 10, 2021