Tuesday, October 25, 2011

U.S. Federal Innovation 25: Road Engineering that Preserves Treasured Landscapes

The Garden Wall
In the summer of 1924, Stephen Mather, Director of the National Park Service; National Park Service Chief Engineer, George Goodwin; Park Service landscape engineer Thomas Vint; and Park Superintendent, Charles Kraebel rode by horseback to take a look at Logan Pass in Montana's Glacier National Park. The purpose of their trip was to view the route of the new Going-to-the-Sun Road as it proceeded over Logan Pass. Designed by the experienced road engineer, Goodwin, the route would take a number of switchbacks up a scenic and nearly vertical cliff called the Garden Wall. The dashing Goodwin was proud of the feat of engineering the proposed route would take; Vint, a recently graduated landscape architect was aghast. He complained that the route would "...look like miners had been in there..." and urged Mather to consider a different route. The more elegant and expensive alternative route, which was eventually implemented over Goodwin's objections, made its way to Logan Pass with only a single switchback. It also preserved the Garden Wall and the valley below. Vint's route is considered a landmark in landscape design and established a new standard for preserving landscape qualities in the national parks and elsewhere.

Source: Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering Lesson Plan

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