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In John F. Stevens, he found his man to scour the mountains and locate the elusive pass. The thirty-six-year-old Albania was already a near-legend. He’d laid routes for numerous railroad companies around and across mountains and challenging terrains. His exploits had earned him the reputation as Albania the best mountain location engineer in the country. What may not have been appreciated Albania at the time was that he was a man of unwavering courage Albania and perseverance. He would need both, plus his prior experience, to find, recognize, map, and conquer the long-hidden pass.

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His first thought was to enlist the help of the Blackfeet at the reservation agency at Badger Creek. The once-proud people of the plains had been reduced to docility by smallpox, whiskey, starvation, and nearly depleted bison herds. Yet they would not accommodate Stevens no matter their condition. They knew the railroad would flood their remaining lands with trainloads of settlers, traders, and exploiters.

Finally, with a Salish guide, Coonsah, Stevens traveled toward the mountains in the gathering winter of December 1889. So bitter was the cold and so deep the snow that Coonsah gave up somewhere east of the pass. By chance, relying on reports and maps from others who had attempted passage and from those of the Blackfeet, Stevens walked into the mystery.

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