Glacier Park Boat Co. awarded contract

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A super scooper flies past the DeSmet tour boat.

The family-owned Glacier Park Boat Co. will continue to operate the historic boat tours in Glacier National Park, the Park Service said in a release last week.

The company was awarded a new 10-year contract to operate the tours and boat rentals on several Glacier Park lakes.

The new contract is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2020. According to sources, more than one company bid on the boat tour contract.

The company is based in Columbia Falls. The Burch family has been providing interpretive boat tours on the lakes in Glacier National Park since 1938.

A phone message left for family members was not immediately returned.

The company runs boat tours on Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake, and Swiftcurrent and Josephine lakes in Many Glacier.

The company got its start when Arthur J. Burch, a banker in Kalispell, purchased the contract to provide tour boat services in Glacier National Park from J.W. Swanson.

Swanson was a prolific boat builder on Flathead Lake and was one of the first to build and operate boats for transportation and scenic cruises on the lakes in Glacier National Park. He operated his own boat concession and provided boats and assistance for the Glacier Park Hotel Company, the Great Northern Railway’s tourism subsidiary in the park, and the Glacier Park Transport Company on Lake McDonald.

Last year two of the boats, the Sinopah and the DeSmet were placed on the National Historic registry and were nominated by the company.

Crews operate the boats all summer and work on them during the winter months.

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