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Historic lodge built by James J. Hill burns down in wildfire

The site was lost despite a "valiant stand" by firefighters.

A part of James J. Hill's legacy has been lost to a wildfire in Montana's Glacier National Park.

The Sperry Chalet was built near Lake McDonald in 1913 by the Minnesota-based magnate Hill and his son Louis, whose Great Northern Railway played a major role in the creation of the park, the property's website says.

It went on to become a hotel and a historic landmark, but on Thursday, authorities announced that it had burned down in the ongoing Sprague Fire.

This is despite a "valiant stand" by a "highly skilled group of firefighters" to save the structure, an update from U.S forest officials says. Not helping were high wind that kicked up in the afternoon, and the fact that the chalet can only be reached by trail.

Fortunately, no firefighters were hurt. 

The Sprague Fire has been burning since Aug. 10, and is believed to have been started by lightning or some other natural cause. So far, it has torn through more than 3,000 acres. 

Nonetheless, "most areas of the park are open and operating as usual," officials say. 

The Missoulian notes that the Sperry site was one of the park's two "backcountry chalets."

It made the National Register of Historic Places list in 1977, the Associated Press reports

More about J.J. Hill

A towering figure in Minnesota history, James J. Hill is credited with "greatly expanding railways into the U.S. Northwest during the late 19th century."

You can visit his massive home, known as the James J. Hill House, on St. Paul's Summit Avenue. 

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