In the winter of 1900, geographer Vaughan Cornish set out with his wife, Ellen, an engineer and artist, to Glacier National Park in Canada. Crossing through the North American wilderness on the Canadian Pacific Railway, they hoped to observe to see nature at its best.

What they ultimately discovered, was something so rare, they didn’t even know it was possible! Once they reached Glacier Park, it wasn’t long before they were met by one of nature’s most peculiar and awesome structures: “snow mushrooms.”

1-snow-mushroomsPeel’s Prairie Provinces

Describing them two years later in The Geographical Journal, Vaughan said: “When I attempted to detach a small snow-mushroom from its pedestal, I found that it was very firmly fixed. Having driven a long pole into the mass of snow, which was about 4 feet across, I found it to be tough and tenacious, and I was unable to dislodge it… I gave successive pushes until the tree rocked violently, when at last the snow-cap fell, but as a whole, and it was not broken with its impact with the soft snow beneath.”

02-snow-mushroomsVaughan Cornish / Google Books