Rediscovery, Scientific Study and Tourism within the Glacier Bay Region

Scientific Study

The construction of John Muir's 1890 Muir Point cabin was the physical manifestation of intensive scientific inquiries and discovery which typified Glacier Bay during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. John Muir and Harry Reid, operating out of this cabin, made significant scientific discoveries which contributed to the knowledge of glaciology, geology, and climatic change. Camp Muir saw further use during the Harriman Expedition's 1899 studies at Glacier Bay. Likewise the cairns, and revegetation plots which Reid and William S. Cooper established between 1890 and 1935 at Glacier Bay served as instrumental tools in answering questions about glaciology, climate change, and plant succession. Scientists today still rely upon the information of Muir, Reid, Cooper, and their contemporaries as the basis for comparison to current scientific investigations.

Augmenting these contributions to scientific inquiry is the recognition of Muir, Reid, and Cooper as giants in their respective fields. The name John Muir is synonymous with Glacier Bay and the modern conservation movement. Muir's efforts and writings which resulted from his visits to Glacier Bay in 1879, 1880, 1890, and 1899 were crucial aspects of Muir's legacy. The professional reputations and contributions of Reid and Cooper among scientists and visitors who frequent Glacier Bay persist to this day. Their efforts likewise contributed to Glacier Bay's designation as a national monument in 1925.

Historic Properties: John Muir's Cabin (historically referred to as Camp Muir), Surveyor Cairns, Revegetation Plots - NPS, 23 December 1996


The development of a tourism industry at Glacier Bay was made possible through the development and expansion of a reliable transportation support network. For many years cruise ships and private charter boats filled this niche. These vessels relied upon docks, piers, and boardwalks to facilitate activities ashore. Such infrastructure likewise opened Glacier Bay to the genteel traveler. Travel became easier with the construction of an airfield at Gustavus during the 1940s. On the other extreme were those hardy adventuresome tourists merely looking for a convenient base of operations from which to explore. Hotel Huscroft at Lituya Bay and less permanent base camps served as transportation hubs for several mountain climbing expeditions frequenting the Fairweather Range prior to the onset of the Second World War.

In conjunction with this are those properties which benefited commercially from the tourism trade. The above mentioned vessel operators and associated transportation networks served a commercial purpose, namely, excursion travel. Likewise the small trading posts and Tlingit cottage enterprises which catered to the tourists were commercial ventures. Together, these various enterprises served as the precursors to the luxury cruise ships and wilderness lodges which cater to the traveling public in and around Glacier Bay today.

Historic Properties: Muir Point, Dick Willoughby's Trading Post and Hotel Huscroft - NPS, 23 December 1996


Last Name Name AsNotedIn
Muir: John Muir

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