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H is short-lived yet lively career as a park ranger ended about the time World War I began. He joined the Canadian Army, where his sharpshooting was put to good use, and returned a highly decorated war hero. After the war he returned

to trapping game in the northern Rockies, where he consistently managed to evade U.S. and Canadian authorities and seemed to disappear like a ghost into the wilderness.

The

Man Who Joe CapturedCosley

The wily Joe Cosley couldn’t hide forever. In the winter of 1928 to 1929, he set up camp in the Belly River country of Glacier National Park. While he was off hunting, park ranger Joe Heimes discovered Cosley’s camp and decided to wait him out. It was a long, cold wait. Joe Heimes had come west from Wisconsin in 1919, taking whatever jobs he could find along the way. He worked in Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn as a butcher’s helper until 1923. That year he went to Shelby, Montana, to see the Dempsey–Gibbons fight and then moved on to Glacier National Park to look for work. He built telephone lines to Camas Creek, worked in the park sawmill at Fish Creek, and then in 1924 he took a job as a fire lookout on Huckleberry Mountain.

PG 13

In 1926 Heimes officially joined the ranks of park rangers and worked alone at the Belly River Station. For nearly nine months in 1927 and 1928, Heimes’ only contact with other people was when he took an occasional trip down the Belly River to visit his closest neighbors at the John J. West Ranch in Canada. Now, in 1929, Heimes was waiting in the cold to capture poacher and legend Joe Cosley. Just as Heimes was about to give up hope, Cosley wandered into camp. Heimes pounced, catching Cosley by surprise. The two men struggled. Heimes, to his own amazement, managed to come out on top. Soon two other rangers showed up, and the three took the fugitive over Gable Pass to East Glacier. The next morning they boarded the train to Belton, where Cosley was charged with poaching and tried in the same afternoon. Heimes expected Cosley to serve a few days in jail, which might have taught him a lesson. Instead Cosley was fined $100 and given a suspended jail sentence. Later that afternoon Heimes heard that Cosley, hoping to beat park officials to his beaver cache, was already on his way back to the Belly River. Hoping to beat Cosley to the cache, Heimes and park ranger Tom Whitcraft left early the next morning, traveling by train to East Glacier, by Model T to the Belly River Canadian ranger station, and on snowshoes to Cosley’s camp. They were convinced they would easily beat Cosley to the cache. It was a two-day hike from Belton to Cosley’s camp even in the summer. In winter it would take longer. They reckoned wrong. When the rangers arrived at the camp, all they found were tracks. The fifty-nine year-old Cosley had snowshoed across the Continental Divide in less than twenty hours, picked up his furs, and disappeared into the wilds of Alberta. Cosley never returned to Glacier National Park, at least as far as anyone knew. He continued trapping for fifteen more years and died alone in 1944 in a cabin high in the Canadian Rockies. Cosley Lake and Cosley Ridge are named for the slippery fugitive.

Louis W. Hill

Builds a Park

In the early years of the park, there was little that Louis Hill’s Great Northern Railway did not build, finance, con-

Crown of the Continent  

University of Montana's Crown of the Continent

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