Page 13

Apgar as temporary headquarters and began constructing an official, permanent headquarters at Fish Creek, which would finally be completed in 1913. He extended the telephone line system to the Logging Creek Ranger Station and started a line to Sperry Glacier and over Gunsight Pass to St. Mary Lake. Then he began rebuilding the two-and-one-half mile stretch of road between Belton and Apgar, which later would connect with the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Logan would not see his work completed. He died the following year of an unknown cause while on a trip to the East. The first six park rangers assigned to patrol the park for poachers and encroachers were Chief Ranger Henry Vaught, Dan Doody, Bill Burns, Frank Pierce, “Dad” Randels, and the legendary Joe Cosley. Other

The First


rangers shortly joined the original six, the most famous being Albert “Death on the Trail” Reynolds. A trapper, sharpshooter, woodsman, and occasional outlaw, Joe Cosley was that special breed of man destined to become a Western legend. There was no mistaking Cosley. He cut a dashing figure in his buckskin hat decorated with a rose and his fringed vaquero sash. Of French and Ojibway Indian descent, he was born in Canada and had hunted


Joe Cosley

and trapped in what was now Glacier National Park for most of his life. He was already a legend among the early settlers and explorers who knew him personally or by reputation. Cosley was fifty percent romantic and fifty percent scoundrel. Journalist Julia Nelson, in a 1953 Canadian Cattlemen magazine article, wrote rather politely that “Joe loved many women, not just one, as each of them thought.” It was Cosley’s custom to honor his sweetheart of the moment by telling her he had named a lake or mountain for her or by carving a heart around their initials on a tree.

It was also Cosley’s custom to carve his name or initials on trees to mark—possibly for posterity—where he camped or worked in the wilderness. Trees bearing Cosley’s unmistakable hearts and initials have been found near Blind Rivers, Ontario, and in the Belly River lakes country. The National Park Service has preserved a tree bearing his initials and the date of 1897. As a park ranger, Cosley’s job was to build trails, patrol for fires, shoot marauding coyotes and cougars, count deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, and prevent hunters and trappers from practicing their trade inside the park. The only problem was that when no one was looking, Cosley plied his former trade inside the park. About four years into his park ranger career, Cosley was caught hunting and trapping and was promptly fired.

Crown of the Continent  

University of Montana's Crown of the Continent