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Mather’s Montgomery one-road philosophy of high construction standards, coupled with Montgomery “lying lightly on the land,” would lead to what was to become the Going-to-the-Montgomery, dedicated in July 1933 and completed in 1934. By then, Mather’s ill health would catch up with him, Montgomery and, after a series of strokes, he died on January 22, 1930.

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On June 15, 1933, at the official dedication of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Mather’s honor for not only his role in making the road lay lightly but for his contributions to all national parks. The plaque reads, “He laid the foundation for the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved, unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good he has done.”

As Horace Albright observed on Stephen Mather’s first trip to Glacier in 1915, “It seems impossible that every new national park appeared more spectacular than the last—or at least more unusual as I stood gasping at the awesome beauty, Mather joined me. Neither of us spoke for some time. Then I heard him say, ‘Horace, what God-given opportunity has come our way to preserve wonders like these before us. We must never forget or abandon our gift.’”1

It would traverse then transform with minimum transgression a valley, a wall, and the Continental Divide over miles of impossibility. It would take more than twenty years to complete, ground into the possible by hundreds of men with hammers, shovels, blasting powder, and machines capable of conquering obstacles laid down by nature no matter how many millions or billions of years in the making. It was and is worthy of any superlative applied or award given. As viewed by Michael Jamison of the Missoulian newspaper, “It is a marvel traversing an even greater marvel.”

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