Early Days in the Forest Service
Volume 3

By Edward G. Stahl*

*Stahl was well-known to many in the Forest Service, although he did not stay in the organization, having resigned in 1911, according to this narrative. He passed away about 1957. The Kaniksu and Kootenai furnished this material, which Mr. Stahl sent to them in 1953.

I was among the group at Kalispell, Montana, that took the first Civil Service examination there for Forest Ranger, in 1905. My rating placed me at the top of the eligible list, and early the following spring I received appointment as Forest Ranger, assigned to work under the direction of Fred Harrig at Ant Flat.

Fred Herrig was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and served with Roosevelt's Rough Riders. He was the largest man in the regiment. He had punched cows for Teddy on the Little Missouri. When Roosevelt was organizing the Rough Riders, Fred was packing ore in British Columbia and Roosevelt wired him from San Antonio, Texas, to come down and join them.

In Roosevelt's book, "The Rough Riders," mention is made of Herrig several times. He was brevetted second lieutenant for special services for tracking some mules loaded with machine guns that got away during a skirmish. Several full-blood Indians had given up the job, and Fred tracked the mules into Spanish territory and recovered them and the guns. He was from Alsace Lorraine, very dark and wore handlebar mustache, giving him a villainous look. Roosevelt was making a tour of the West one time when he saw Fred in the audience. Roosevelt motioned him to come up on the platform. Fred said before he got nicely started, two plainclothesmen had him by the collar.

With Byron Henning, we cut trail the spring of 1906 up the Stillwater Valley. It rained continuously. Fred told me that the year before, he sent in his monthly diary with a lot of daily records reading, "Rain, stayed in camp." His next check was quite a bit short and it never rained so hard again!

We camped at Fish Lake. I packed my horse in and walked while Fred and Byron Henning rode. We planned to go to Ant Flat for the weekend, but I was handicapped with a mean horse and no riding saddle. I rigged up a bridle with small rope, but got bucked off at the first attempt. Fred said, "Eddie, you might as well stay in camp. You're crazy as hell to try to ride that horse bareback." A school ma'am boarded at Fred's place and I had a date to take her to a dance at Gateway, so I felt honorbound to get to Ant Flat in time. I cinched a lash rope around the horse for a handhold and blindfolded him. When Fred pulled the blind, I whacked the horse over the ears with my hat and arrived at the station far ahead of the other two.

The old stage road led through a narrow pass at the summit near Stryker. The canyon was so narrow that at turnout places there were signs reading, "Stop and holler," as warning for freighters to wait to pass. Fred used to go to sleep while riding his horse and would wake up saying, "Dot vas a great improvement." One dark night he woke up sitting on the solid rock road in the canyon, which was not much of an improvement, and he had to walk home. He rode a big snorty black and the horse may have been spooked by a bear.

The big dance of the year was the Mulligan Ball held at Gateway by the Order of the Sons of Rest. Mulligan was made in a washboiler, and it was rumored that Old Crow whiskey was one of the ingredients. The ball was held in an abandoned honky-tonk building, a relic of the boom days of 1900 when, at the end of each dance, the call was "Promenade to the bar," where the bartender served drinks and passed a 15-cent check to the lady to put in her stocking as commission. Today there is not enough left of Gateway to call it a ghost town. Although it is on the U.S.-Canadian boundary, there is no custom office there. The railroad that was built in 1900 is torn up and the line is blocked off with page-wire fence.

In the early days, until about 1904, before Ant Flat was designated as a Ranger Station it was a regular camping ground for freighters and cattle drivers. The owner of adjoining land fenced it, although it was still public domain. About 1901, I was helping an Irishman named Riley with his wife and grown daughters, drive his cattle north from the Flathead Valley to Rexford. We were caught in a late spring snowstorm and put the cattle in the pasture at Ant Flat, and got in an old cabin for shelter.

Louis Ladue, the neighbor, rode up and started to drive the cattle out. Riley tried to get his rifle, but it was under some household effects in the wagon. Considerable confusion followed as the girls and I tried to drive the cattle the opposite way, with one of the girls crying and Mrs. Riley calling, "Mr. Ladue, will you listen to me a moment?" He paused long enough for Riley to slip up and get the horse by the bridle and belabor Ladue and the horse with his cane. As Ladue galloped away, he shouted, "You no man, big man, use club, call man name like dat."

Riley dug out his rifle, went down to the south gate and lay in wait behind a big, pine tree for Ladue's return. Mrs. Riley asked me to go and coax him back. I was reluctant, but she said, "You can do more with him than anyone else." I soon had him laughing and we returned to the cabin.

Ladue went home and had taken his rifle down off the rack when his wife and some freighters prevailed on him to listen to reason. The result might have been tragic if he and Riley had met while still under the urge of the heat of anger.

Ant Flat was withdrawn from entry about 1903, and Fred Herrig built a Ranger cabin there.

After returning to Fish Lake, an incident occurred of which Fred and I were not very proud. We considered ourselves woodsmen, but ate herbs that were poisonous. Byron Henning said it was wild rhubarb and good to eat. Fred and I ate some, and by the time we reached camp were pretty sick. I rode four miles to Stryker to get help for Fred. The woman railway agent thought I was drunk and directed me to the section house. A railway agent called "Doc" was there on his fishing vacation. I passed out, and he told me later that he gave me strychnine to keep up my heart action, and was mighty worried. Henning helped Fred down on a gentle horse, and the agent flagged the fast train that took us to Eureka. A pill peddler gave us some dope and we returned to work the next day. I threw my medicine away but Fred used his and for a week could not speak above a whisper. We had all the symptoms of poisoning, with spasms, constricted chest and throat. A sample of the plant was sent to the U.S. botanist, and he reported that it sometimes killed cattle and sheep, but we were the first men who were fools enough to eat it.

On June 15, I received orders from Supervisor Haines to transfer to Indian Creek in the North Fork District by way of Kalispell. The trip covered about 120 miles with saddle horse and pack horse. Mr. Haines traveled with me from Kalispell. The South Fork of the Flathead was in flood, and we swam the horses across from a rowboat.

I cut trail far a while along the north shore of Lake McDonald. Charlie Russell, the cowboy artist, had a summer home nearby. (He died in 1926, and although he never had any training, his last picture sold for $30,000.) Four years later, in 1910, this District, a ram pasture of about 1600 square miles - including the main range of the Rockies from the Great Northern Railway to the Canadian line was designated as Glacier National Park.

In the '90's there was a tote road through the canyon for railroad construction. One hill on solid rock was so steep wagons were snubbed down with a rope. The snubbing stump could still be seen with deep spiral grooves cut into it by the rope. The stump was later cut off and set up at Columbia Falls as an historical exhibit. Today there is a good auto road through the canyon.

In the horse-and-buggy days, the livery barn was a hangout for town loafers and stockmen. They got quite a kick out of hokey-pokeying a man's horse to make him buck. I believe the proper name for the stuff is hydrogen sulphide. It evaporates quickly and smells like rotten cabbage. A small application on a horse above the tail will do the business, but sometimes it takes quite a while to take effect. The suspense makes it more interesting. I have known a horse to walk a block before he broke in two and put the Indian in the dust.

At Kalispell, Frank Adaman at the livery barn, offered to buy my horse. He said, "He looks pretty snorty to me, but throw a saddle on him and ride him, and if he's gentle I'll give you $20.00 for him." I was riding with a rawhide hackamore, and as neck-reined the horse around a buggy he started to buck and bawl, scattering the foot traffic and nearly running down a woman with a baby buggy. When I rode back, Adaman remarked, "You're a hell of a man to try and sell a horse like that and call him gentle." I knew the horse had been doped. I sought some hokey-pokey and distributed it to the young fellows with instructions to hokey-pokey Adaman's horse. This was my first experience with it, but years later I learned first-hand more about it when I broke a bottle in my hip pocket. However, that incident is classed as my most embarrassing moment, and I don't care to go into detail about it here.

I sold my horse, and returning to Indian Creek, stopped over with Long Jeff at Logging Creek. He was a fine, kindly old man, and although well past 70 was still guiding hunting parties. He was six feet four. His full name was Thomas Jefferson, and he was a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. He loaned me a pack horse, also a four-year-old stallion too gentle for him. In the '90's Jeff and three other men located some coal claims near the Flathead and sold out for $50,000.

I crossed the river to the west side at Henshaw Ford, now Pole Bridge, and traveled for about a week to learn the country. There was no road there at the time and it was a beautiful country, with meadows and parks near the river, and deer, moose, bear and other game plentiful, as well as trout in the streams. I camped at Hay Creek and was bothered by some Government pack mules left there by Chapman who had made a geological survey of the country. They wandered at large all summer and were wintered by Long Jeff. At night they fought my horses until the pack horse broke loose. The next day I tracked them ten miles north, only to learn they had crossed the river at the Henshaw Ford.

I had to pack my equipment on the saddle horse. At the ford I made a raft, chased the stallion in and threw rocks at him, then put off on the raft. He did not follow the ford and could not get up the opposite bank. I was forced downstream by the current and when I landed the horse had started back. I jumped into water up to my waist to catch him, and had a hard time getting him up the bank. Later Theodore Christensen and I cut trail up the South Fork of Coal Creek to the summit of the Whitefish Range.

A friend of mine, Tom Monroe, lost his life in a snowslide near this trail above Cyclone Flat. His partner, Faldy Neitzling, got clear and traveled 65 miles to Columbia Falls and return for help. However, Tom's body was not found until July. A snowslide as it roars down the mountain, makes a clean sweep, carrying trees and rocks to be left in a great pile of debris at the terminal. Snow is so deep at the foot of the slide that it often remains through the summer. Uncle Jeff told me he got snowbound at Canyon Creek once in October with a pack string, and eventually had to shoot the horses rather than have them suffer from starvation.

I was laid off October 1st and met a party from Eureka and joined them hunting goat at Bowman Lake. We had an early snowstorm and crossed the range to Eureka via Yakinikak and Grave Creek. This trail traverses the locale described by Ernest Thompson Seton in his story, "Krag, the Kootenay Ram."

My vacation at Eureka had just ended on January 1, 1907, when I received instructions to report for duty to David Kinney at Libby, Montana, Supervisor for the Kootenai National Forest. (Glen Smith, Roscoe Haines, and I.)

We built a Ranger cabin near Pipe Creek, twelve miles north of Libby, that winter. Bill Doak, our neighbor, had been purser on a steamboat that plied the Kootenai River between Jennings, Montana, and Fort Steele, British Columbia, in the late '90's. It takes some stretch of the imagination to believe a steamboat could navigate the Koontenai. Two steamboats were wrecked on the same day in the rocky canyon north of Jennings. Boat traffic was discontinued about 1901.

In the spring I was sent to Gateway to cut trail across the Purcell Range, to the Yaak River via Dodge Creek. I bought two matched black ponies and packed to the base of Yaak-Mountain, crossing the Kootenai on Mills' Ferry, located in British Columbia.

A Frenchman named Solo Joe was placering near the summit of the Purcell Range. He warned me that if I ever ran across a trapper named Olson in the Yaak River District to mistake him for a mountain lion and shoot him. If I had followed Joe's advice it would have saved a lot of misery. But I never saw Olson. He was crazy. "Dingle on the bean," Joe said. Olson had once set a bear trap in the trail for Joe. A year later Ranger Raymond wrote the Supervisor at Libby to have an officer pick up Olson as he was dangerous. The Supervisor, a new man from the east, kidded Raymond for being afraid of Olson but took no action. Two of Raymond's laborers on tail work, upon going to their homestead for the weekend, met Olson coming out the door. He said he had called to borrow some soda, but he had put strychnine in the sourdough can. One man died that night but the other one survived. Their names were Todd and Hensley. Raymond took Olson in and he was placed in an asylum, where he later died.

It was a lonely job cutting trail until a man named Cody was sent up to help me. He was the best all-round woodsman, packer and horseman I ever met. He had two half-broke horses loaned to him to break for their use. He did not agree on the route I picked for the trail so I told him he could move over to the western slope and cut trail where and how he chose, which he did. We met on weekends to go for supplies.

One night Charlie Andrews, on border patrol for the Immigration Service, camped with me. He noted some verse I was writing and remarked, "The man is crazy from being alone. He is writing poetry." It was pretty crude, entitled "A Ranger's Lament," but it served to get me a promotion and transfer to a better district. I mailed this verse to Acting Supervisor Glen Smith:

     I'm on my way, Glen, on my way,
To pitch my tent by close of day,
     Where Dodge Creek springs 'mid shadows strange
From a narrow pass in the Purcell Range.

     The simple life may look good to folks
Who live in the city and know it from books,
     Just now with me it's beginning to pall
For it's lonely here when the shadows fall.

     So I'll sit by the campfire's gleam alone,
And hark to the swaying trees' low moan,
     Then count the days, about ten more
When I'll hike for the Kootenay's eastern shore.

     But before I can go, - Alas! — Alack!
I must plod up the hump with a heavy pack,
     Pitch my tent in the canyon deep,
And flop in a bed where the spiders creep.

     I long for a day with Billie and Van,
Susan and Babe and the rest of the clan;
     For the cheerful notes of a ragtime song,
Or to waltz with a maid 'mid the whirling throng.

     Then back to the woods again wouldn't tire;
Camp grub cooked by the open fire,
     With big dutch oven and frying pan,
Blackened kettles and sourdough can.

It got so lonely my dog couldn't stand it. He went down to the Kootenai River and howled 'til the ferryman from Gateway came over and took him across to town. When a man's dog shows up at the settlement without his master, the settlers in the valley assume, and often correctly, that it is an indication of tragedy. Jack Barnaby lost his life in a snowslide, and when his dog came out, a posse went to look for him. A man named Matty lost his life on Kishanehin Creek and a bear devoured him. His dog came out to Big Prairie, the first indication of tragedy. The mystery of Matty's death was never fully solved. Late in the spring, when his dog showed up at Big Prairie, several of Matty's friends went up to his trapper cabin to investigate. They found the door latched, a large hole in the roof and, upon opening the door, found bones scattered over the floor - all that remained of Matty. They found considerable blood stains on the bunk, also an automatic .45 pistol set near the cabin for a bear. By the signs they found, they decided he had shot himself accidentally and died on the bunk. When the weather got warm, the bear, attracted by the smell, had torn a hole in the roof to get in and devour him.

When my dog showed up at the river, Mother Milks pestered her man until he got Harvey Young to join him and come up to my camp. Perhaps they were disappointed to find me swinging a mattock on the trail but I was thankful to know that someone took an interest in my welfare.

I almost forgot to tell you about my dog. He was a mongrel, part terrier with long hair, and I called him "Tommy Whiskers." I taught him several tricks. He would sit up, balance a pine cone on his nose and at the count of three, flip his nose sideways and catch it. He didn't like to swim the rivers and soon learned to get up behind me on the horse. He was more than just a pet. He could tree a mountain lion or nip a bear on the stern end until it would sit up and roar. He stayed away from skunk and porky. I taught him to smoke a pipe by first putting sugar on the stem. A dog as well as a man can learn one trick too many, and when I moved into town, he got some costly ideas. I didn't mind taking him to the barber shop once a month to get his moustache waxed and his beard trimmed Van Dyke, but when he wanted high priced cigars, I had to draw the line and broke him of the smoking habit by giving him Peerless tobacco.

Soon after I mailed my verse to Glen Smith, I received instructions to proceed to a new district north of Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The Supervisor, Dave Kinney, advised me that there would be considerable business there, with grazing permits and timber sales to look after. I lost no time packing and headed for the river.

Molly Sullivan, daughter of a homesteader on the west bank of the Kootenai helped me swim the horses across at Rexford. There was only a sketchy trail downriver near the foot of the mountains and I traveled on the railroad right-of-way at times. At Stone Hill where I camped the first night, a down freight killed my pack horse. I felt pretty bad about it, as the horse was a pet and only three years old. It meant that I had to walk 35 miles to Jennings and lead the saddle horse. I shipped my equipment from Jennings to Libby, and bought a horse at Libby.

From there on it was tough going along the north side of the Koontenai. Part of the trail above the falls was over solid rock and narrow ledges. More than one prospector had lost a horse there that slipped off the trail and rolled down into the river below the falls. The second night I stopped with Jake Lang on the Montana-Idaho line. Half his land was in Idaho, yet until the State line was marked, he paid his taxes at Kalispell, Montana.

Arriving in the Moyie District, I boarded with an Indian who had a white wife. His hair hung in braids over his shoulders and he had me cut it for him. If I'd had a little more barber business like that I would soon have had enough hair to make a saddle blanket!

Later I built a Ranger cabin in the Moyie Valley near Snyder Post Office. Artman Snyder was Ranger of the Moyie District when I arrived there. Snyder Post Office was named after him. He was a big, raw-boned fellow, and had prospected from Mexico to Alaska. He had a voice like a foghorn and told some pretty far-fetched yarns of his experiences, in very serious manner, and seemed peeved if we doubted them. He said when he went to the Klondike via Edmonton he lived twelve days on tallow candle and porcupine, then cut his dog's tail off, made soup of it and fed the bone to the dog. Very generous. (It helped the dog make both ends meet.)

He gave me the recipe for cooking porcupine: "You should not skin it but should pluck it like a goose - wrap it in an old blanket and throw it on a pack horse for about three days' travel. When you remove the blanket the quills will come with it. Burn the blanket and at the same time you can singe the pinfeathers off the porky. Draw it and cover with a two-inch layer of damp clay. Bake three hours in a pit in the ashes."

Two brothers lived at Round Prairie who had a lot of trouble with the neighbors. I was warned not to go near them as they had declared an open season on Forest Rangers. However, I got along very well with them. One brother we called Whispering Jake. There was something wrong with his epiglottis and he would whisper for a while then without warning his voice would break into a roar. He didn't have very good control and did not seem to know when he would whisper or when he would roar, so it was disconcerting, to state it mildly, to converse with him at short range. He seemed to take a fancy to me and after I was transferred to the office at Sandpoinnt, he would call in to see me. With a hand on my knee and his face close to mine, he would tell me of his battle with Pig-Eye Johnson. When Jake would break into a roar, the Supervisor, with a broad grin, would cast a sky glance my way. A good executive would know how to get rid of Jake, but I was too good-natured to offend him. I would excuse myself, go into the drafting room and stay until he had left.

In the spring of 1908, Robert McLaughlin was sent to the Moyie District on special duty to survey Ranger Stations and classify homestead lands. I traveled with him as sort of Boy Scout and Man Friday. We were kindred spirits in that we both had a perverted sense of humor. (I mean what we considered funny might not seem funny to you.) Bill Nye best illustrates the idea when he tells of Peck's bad boy, laughing at a funeral - until his dad knocked hell out of him and convinced him it wasn't funny. We didn't make it pay as Bill Nye did, but carried on for our own amusement. I never saw another man enjoy a joke or gag so much as did Robert McLaughlin. He was short and heavy-set, with clear blue eyes and a square, jutting jaw. When telling a yarn, he was very serious and seldom smiled, but the next day on the trail would laugh heartily. We led a hobo life traveling afoot, by speeder or in a boxcar. Sometimes at night we camped out but more often stopped at settlers' cabins.

We stopped one night at the hotel at Eastport. At breakfast, Robert gave the girl his order for "two eggs, one cooked on one side and one on the other." She came back several times to get the order straight and he pretended to get sore. When we were out on the trail, he laughed heartily and said, "The poor girl did not know on which side to cook which egg."

We were surveying a Ranger Station near Meadow Creek when he awoke me early one morning, saying, "We have a cougar treed." There was a big forked tree near camp with a small dead cedar lodged in the forks. We all wore calked boots and he had walked up the leaning dead cedar to the forks and poked my clothes far out on the upper end with a pole. They figured I would have to chop the big tree down to get my clothes but I got them without chopping. I climbed to the forks, retrieved the clothes with a long pole with a nail in the end as a hook.

Robert studied law at night (when he wasn't thinking of nonsense) and was later appointed Montana State Forester. We moved westward to classify lands along the foothills south of Port Hill.

The Great Northern Railroad had a branch line from Bonners Ferry to Creston, British Columbia. I read someplace of a slow train that was easy to overtake but hard to meet. It was likely a reference to the Kootenai Valley Branch line. The train ran tri-weekly, went north on Monday and tried all the rest of the week to get back. But on the day that Robert and I rode the train, the schedule was reversed. About ten miles north of Bonners Ferry we were stopped by a mud slide that covered the rails. The train crew and some passengers proceeded to clear the rails. Robert and I decided that walking was easier than shoveling. We walked ahead to Copeland, then on to Port Hill, and still no train in sight.

This story illustrates the train crew's idea of a time schedule. A traveling man said the train was stopped on the main line and while he walked the aisle and gnawed his fingernails, the train crew sauntered up the open hillside, each man carrying heavy twine to snare gophers. They got one cent bounty for each tail.

There was a bad fire that summer, near the headwaters of Meadow Creek, so McLaughlin had to carry on alone while I fought forest fire. We packed equipment and grub to the top of Queen Mountain with horses, then back-packed by manpower, three miles to the fire front. An old Hudson Bay trapper cooked over campfire for thirty men. He used fifty pounds of flour per day for making bannocks.

Our camp was located in an alder swamp for protection and we dug several shallow holes for water. The cook called my attention to the red squirrels. They carried the large white-pine cones and put them in the water holes. After the cones were soaked they would take them away. I don't know why the squirrels did this, perhaps to get the seeds out more readily.

A little black bear, his feet singed in the forest fire, hung around camp and would take bannock from the cook's hand.

Later in the summer, Art Snyder and Glen Smith took a short cut across the hills from Snyder Ranger Station to Bonners Ferry. They were both big men, each about six feet tall, but there the similarity ended. Art was spare of frame, rugged, with dark features, lined and browned from life in the open, while Glen Smith was of florid complexion and inclined to carry surplus weight.

They carried no lunch and from running and battling mosquitoes, they developed an enormous hunger. The first settler's place they reached was George Fry's but no one was home. They found a lard pail full of separated cream in the spring and drank the works. After running downhill for some time Art Snyder stopped and remarked, "I believe my stomach is a solid lump of butter." He turned pale, sat down on a log, and made a noise that sounded like 'New York.' After he had coughed up considerable buttermilk they resumed their journey. Mrs. Fry told me she met them on the road and when she refused their offer to pay for the cream, she had no idea they had consumed it all.

The duties of a Forest Ranger were many and varied, so the work was interesting and never onerous. One assignment the writer disliked was reporting on the validity of homestead claims within the National Forest. A Forest Ranger was authorized to take affidavits and administer oaths, as an agent of the General Land Office, in the prosecution of fraudulent claims. Forest Rangers in Idaho also acted as deputy state game wardens. His activities were sometimes spiced with adventure not connected with his regular duties.

One instance I recall. On the day before Christmas, Bonita Jorgensen, the sectionman's daughter, called at the Snyder Ranger Station. She was crying and said her father and brother had gone over the mountain hunting on the day before and had not returned. I made up an emergency pack and started. The weather was stormy. The thermometer registered twenty degrees below zero. I found their tracks on the mountaintop, but soon lost them in the drifted snow and got no answer to my shots. I weathered the storm that night in the burned-out base of a big cedar.

The next day about noon I found them. They had traveled in a circle and were getting panicky. However, when I found them they were taking a straight course by sighting the trees and would have got out. They were blackened from campfire smoke and were hungry, but we soon had hot coffee and lunch. We reached the section house in time for a belated but welcome Christmas, and a thankful one.

On July 4th, 1908, occurred the most embarrassing incident of my career. After all these years I can tell about it, and admit that it was also amusing. At Bonners Ferry there was a July 4th celebration - a big parade, horse racing and a bucking-horse contest. A young fellow claimed to be a bronc rider but when the bucking-horse contest was on he put up an alibi. He was Officer of the Day and rode a big gray horse. I had a bottle of hokey-pokey. A friend borrowed it and in full view of the audience in the grandstand ran up and sprinkled some of the stuff on the horse's rump. The horse walked some distance, twisted his tail, then proceeded to buck halfway round the race track. The rider was grounded in six jumps.

That evening I escorted a young lady to her home across the river. The river bank was dyked with sandbags for flood control and the trail was narrow. I was rather bashful, in fact I am yet, and to give the girl more room on the trail I stepped on the side of the sandbags. My feet slipped from under me and I fell on the bottle of hokey-pokey in my hip pocket. It broke. There was enough hokey-pokey in that bottle to sent twenty horses bucking. I didn't buck, I stampeded and lit waist deep in the muddy waters of the Koontenai. As I climbed up the bank a woman came along. She thought I was crazy, and maybe I was. The aftereffects lasted for some time, and as we crossed the bridge I would bound into the air and run at intervals.

So I learned about hokey-pokey but must admit that a horse does not have the same chance to jump in the river on such short notice.

Changes in National Forest boundaries placed the Moyie District in the Pend 'Oreille National Forest, so in the reshuffle, I was located in the Pend 'Oreille Forest instead of the Kootenai Forest. My superior officer by the change was J.E. Barton, with headquarters at Sandpoint, Idaho.

About January 1, 1909, I was transferred to the main office at Sandpoint and assigned to a District bordering Lake Pend 'Oreille. This lake is the answer to a fisherman's prayer, accessible by highway and railroad. It is forty-three miles long and its greatest depth is 1,150 feet, giving the impression that it lies in the crater of an extinct volcano. (It is a glacial-formed basin.)

Lake Pend 'Oreille has produced three world's record rainbow trout, the largest 37 pounds. Fourteen varieties of game fish are found in its waters. Mountains rise abruptly from the eastern lakeshore, and in 1909 there was no road or trail to Lakeview near the southern end of the lake; therefore, in order to take horses to Lakeview we had to ship them by steamboat from Sandpoint.

Jack Barton, the Supervisor, decided we should build a pack trail from Lakeview to Clark Fork, following closely the summit of the Coeur d'Alene Range, most of the way. In March 1909, I made a preliminary cruise over the proposed route to learn if it was feasible. The weather was bright and cold. From the summit I had the exalted impression that I was standing astride the backbone of the world as I gazed at a panorama, spread like a map for a radius of forty miles; Lake Pend 'Oreille, dotted with green islands, to the west, northward, smoke rising lazily from the big mill at Ponderay; in the far distance, Chimney Rock and Roman Nose Mountain were visible in the Selkirk Range; and far below to the east meandered the timbered valley of the North Fork River.

On the summit the snow lay six feet deep. I almost walked over the top of a trapper's camp before I noticed it. It was made of poles that leaned against a supporting ridge pole to form an inverted V-shaped shelter. Near the peak was a small opening through which lynx tracks led in and out. I shouted at the entrance but apparently nobody was home. On top of the crusted snow, near a shattered tree, a chipmunk was lying curled up in a little furry ball, frozen solid. A winter storm had crashed his tree home and he would never awaken from his winter sleep.

The historic site of Fort Kullyspell is located near the lake, east of the summit.

Although I had never been to Clark Fork or in this locality before, I completed the journey in a long day, reaching Clark Fork at 10:00 p.m. (about thirty miles).

The following summer we completed the pack trail and I note, by a late map, that there is now a scenic highway along this route.

Where the writer plodded along at a modest two-miles-per-hour to explore the wilderness, the Forest Ranger today bounces along in a jeep, exerting a minimum of energy to step on the gas or tramp on the brake.

During the summer of 1909, a resurvey was made of National Forest boundaries to compile information and make recommendations for advisable changes in boundaries.

The Pend 'Oreille Forest was comprised of four separate parcels of land. I asked to be assigned to the roughest and wildest section of the survey. Barton said I was welcome since no one else wanted it. My assignment comprised a wilderness area west of the Montana state line and located between the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads. It included a section of the Cabinet Range. We cruised and mapped an area seven miles wide.

Ranger Literhiser from Clark Fork was detailed to pack for me and do photography for the report. Near Grouse Creek, after we had checked the map, I instructed Literhiser where to meet me with a pack horse in two days. The map showed a trail to the rendevous. There may have been a trail long in the past but the route now proved impassable. I did not see Literhiser again for five days.

I camped the first night in a trapper's cabin. The next day I had a miserable time trying to reason with a black bear with her two cubs. The cubs scurried up a tree and mama bear reared up and took a peek around the tree at me. I moved behind a big tree and started to back away. She rushed at me, threatening by short, jerky jumps when she was close, with upper lip curled back showing her teeth. I will admit that I was scared but she was wild enough that she would not jump on me so long as I stood my ground. After a short interval she went back to the cubs. I picked up a dead stick and when she charged again I could argue a little better by waving the stick in her face, and she finally gave up the bluff. I firmly believe she would have knocked me over if I had run.

Literhiser did not show up at the appointed place. That night was the only time I ever felt nervous in the woods. I was tired and hungry, also soaked from falling into a swamp hole. I would awaken from the chill when my fire went out, and when I scouted for wood in the dark, I imagined there was a bear behind every tree.

The following day I reached a logging road, and as I limped along a horse ran up from behind and walked beside me. North Idaho is hell for mosquitoes and we carried yards of cheesecloth for protection. I tore this into strips to use for rope and rode the horse to the Great Northern Railroad at Elmira. There was a store at Elmira where I could get some grub, but no hotel, so I rolled into the manger in a deserted barn for the night.

Walking east along the railroad for a few miles I stopped to visit some very good friends named McArthur who operated a small sawmill at McArthur Siding. They had a little girl who owned an assortment of pets - two spotted fawns, a baby angora goat and an old crippled dog that followed the fawns all day to look after them.

From McArthur's I journeyed south across a low divide to the headwaters of the North Fork of Grouse Creek. There I called on a squatter named Berg who claimed to have on his homestead the biggest cedar in the State of Idaho. It would be impossible to check his claim, but the cedar measured thirty-eight feet in circumference. All these big cedars are churn-butted and hollow. I have often considered using one as a trapper den by chopping a hole through the outer shell for a door. Art Snyder told me this was done in the Moyie District. As winter progressed and snow got deeper, the trapper chopped a new door at snow level and built a platform floor. It was a winter of heavy snowfall so he moved the floor up at intervals and chopped a new door to match the snow level. Came a chinook one night and he looked out the next morning to find himself four stories above the ground and no fire escape! Art didn't say how he got down.

On the return journey from Berg's place I made a side trip to examine an abandoned mine. The tunnel walls were lined with mica that sparkled brightly in the light of my candle. Mica today is heat treated to form insulation and plaster aggregate known as "Zonolite."

The abandoned cabins were infested with pack rats. I made a mental note to return soon with my dog 'Whiskers' and a six-shooter for some sport-shooting rats.

Pack rats are nocturnal and very destructive. They will ruin a saddle or riding boots in a night. They make a tapping noise that is reported to be done with their tails but I learned from observation that the tapping noise is done with their front feet when they are disturbed.

Billy Schell, a Forest Ranger, showed me two bottles of ink eradicator that were carried up a stairway by a pack rat. They were found in the rat's cache of souvenirs in the garret.

They are noisy. A rat in the loft taps a signal. His long-nosed, bewhiskered friend down below jumps in a battered pan and does a jig, slows down long enough to tap a message to his mischievous friend above who answers by rolling tin cans down the stairway!

The sun was low when I resumed my way over the mountain so I made a Palouser. It is a lantern made with a candle and a tin can and gets its name from the harvest fields of the Palouse country where the harvest hand has a steady job and doesn't need a bed, so trades it off for a lantern. A Palouser can be made from an empty lard pail or tomato can. The candle flame will continue to burn even in a high wind. It is a wise plan always to carry one or two candles in the pack on wilderness journeys. One match will light the candle, you then have continuous heat and flame to start the campfire. It serves for a lantern, which may save you an all-night delay in the woods.

With the aid of the Palouser I followed a dim trail back to McArthur in the darkness. I was behind schedule on the boundary survey and the next day met Literhiser also a party at Naples that had cruised west from the Montana state line to meet me, so my field work was completed there; a reconnaissance and field notes for a report on eighty miles of National Forest boundary.

As we walked up to the little store run by Louie Popp, a man tall and large of girth came out to meet us. I thought he was a forestry official when he shook hands all round. He introduced himself as Fred Schade of the Schade Brewing Company of Spokane. He was on the road promoting sales, and Popp had a package license to sell beer by the bottle.

We had to wait for a train and Schade declared that Naples was the most desolate, deserted village he had seen in all his travels. He kept Louie's boy busy lugging beer up from the basement and said to me, "Man, oh man, you look hungry. If there is anything to eat here that you want, just order it on me." We were a rough and ragged bunch, with stagged pants, ravelled to the knees, features scarred from the ravages of mosquitoes, each of us with a week-old beard. We certainly enjoyed the celebration as a finale to a job well done.

Prior to 1910, the Pend 'Oreille National Forest did not have Government owned pack horses, although each Ranger kept a saddle horse and pack horse for personal use.

Ranger Findell, on the Coeur d'Alene Forest, demonstrated the advantages of private business acumen over Government business proedure. He was instructed to rent some pack horses, the Government to pay fifty cents per day rent. However, he bought the horses by an agreement to pay $15.00 per month for each horse until paid for. He then told the Supervisor, "The Government is renting these horses but I own them." However, the Government acquired ownership with the money allotted for rent.

Horses were scarce in North Idaho so when we received an appropriation to buy pack horses, I was authorized to go to Thompson Falls, Montana, to purchase them. I checked my saddle and went by train to that village.

On this trip I met some interesting characters. One old horse-trader (after selling the horse to me) said, "Now this horse has only two faults. He's hard to catch and no good after you catch him." By the time I reached Sandpoint the horse had but one fault. I tied a large steel nut securely to the horse's foretop. When the horse ran the nut would bounce against his skull, the faster he ran the harder the bounce, so he soon learned to slow down to avoid punishment. This treatment followed, upon catching him, with a reward of sugar or grain did the business.

My next call was at a Negro's place. He was known as Nigger Bill and was renowned as the first man to bulldog a steer and hold it down with his teeth by a hold on the nose. He tried to sell me a three-gaited horse (start, stumble, and fall) but we couldn't deal.

At the end of the road down the south side of the river, there was fine range in the foothills where a man named Yoakum was raising mules. I preferred to buy mules but the young mules for sale were unbroke. However, he had for sale a beautiful pinto mare that ran with the wild bunch. She was four years old and sound. He claimed she had been rough broke the year before and offered to ride her for me. She threw herself over backward when he cinched the saddle. I told Yoakum I would get fired if I returned with an outlaw mare. Yoakum was sixty years old and no doubt had been a bronco buster, and a good one, but he was now too old for this business. I decided to buy the mare if she was bridlewise, so I offered to try her. She fell over backward again when I mounted. I figured something was wrong with the reverse gear, so I passed Yoakum a two-hander and advised him to apply it where it would do the most good as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup. This treatment, followed by a judicious prod of the spurs, proved there was nothing wrong with the reverse gear. She started in high and for several jumps I was busy hunting for the jughandle, only to scratch her ears as I went over her head. Perseverance finally won. Yoakum rode with me that day and the pinto soon proved to be the gentlest horse of the lot.

I had to cross the Thompson River to return to Sandpoint. At that time there was no highway. This was in July and the river was at flood stage, too high in fact to operate the ferry safely. Nevertheless, the ferryman, after the promise of a tip, offered to take me and the six horses across, but when we went down to cross the river next morning, the ferry had been sunk by a drifting tree.

The ferryman related to me the story of a tragedy that occured there in 1884, during construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad, when four packers and twelve mules were carried over the falls. The ferry cable broke while they were crossing. They hadn't a chance to survive but the villagers, running along the bank helpless to aid, watched the packers cut the lash ropes and unpack the mules before the ferry gained speed and up-ended, dumping its live cargo into the turmoil of the angry waters where they disappeared from view. One sturdy mule survived to swim ashore. The others, men and mules, perished. (I later found this version to be incorrect - three mules and three men (of six) had survived.)

I often wonder what could have been the thoughts of these men while they were carried down the raging torrent to certain death within an interval of minutes. During the last minutes of life allotted to them, instead of praying and making futile cries for help, they unpacked the mules to give them a chance, even though a slim one. They did their work to the last. The kindest words I can find to say for them are these: "It is pleasant to dream of eternity but for an honest man it is enough to have lived his life, doing his work."

After hearing the tragic story of the packers, I felt relieved to find the ferry out of commission. I decided to take the horses across on the Belknap Railroad Bridge (later condemned and wrecked). I got a young man to help me by paying his expenses enroute. The railway agent advised me about train schedules and suggested crossing early in the morning.

The bridge was 140 feet above the river. Along the outer edge there was a narrow walk. We removed the saddles and carried them across as a precaution in case a horse fell overboard. All went well until the last horse, a stubborn old goat, refused to go on the walk. I blindfolded him, led the pinto back for company, then lowered the blind to uncover one eye next the bridge and started the pinto. The old horse followed across the bridge.

The Swede sectionboss arrived just as we led the last horse off the bridge. He said, "You can't cross on das har bridge." I retorted, "You should have come here earlier. We have them all across."

We trailed the horses about ninety miles to Sandpoint without further incident but, sad to relate, two horses perished in the terrible fires that devastated North Idaho one month later.

Although forty years have passed since the time of the great forest fires in North Idaho the date is not easily forgotten.

On August 20, 1910, a forest fire raced unchecked for one hundred miles in two days, to devastate one million acres of wilderness in the Idaho Panhandle and northwestern Montana. Eighty-seven persons perished in the flames and countless numbers of forest creatures were destroyed.

If you could see a little black bear clinging, high in a blazing tree and crying like a frightened child you could perceive on a very small scale what happened to the forest creatures.

At twelve o'clock noon on August 10, 1910, Supervisor J.E. Barton at Sandpoint, Idaho, received a telegram from Fire Guard William Brashear at Cabinet: "Send a man to relieve me, fires out of control, men should be withdrawn to safety." Brashear was in charge of several firefighting crews located south of Cabinet near the northern foothills of the Bitterroot Range. He had been a logging contractor with a background of experience that well qualified him for the job ahead.

Since this was before the time of autos and good roads, no action could be taken until the train went east at 5:00 p.m. Supervisor Barton asked me to go to Cabinet and take charge, since I was deputy Supervisor at the time. But before I left we received a second wire, this time from Brashear's cook: "Brashear and ten men trapped in the fire, all assumed to be dead."

John Keefe, Forest Ranger from Clark Fork, met me at Cabinet. We proceeded to the fire front, now within one mile of Cabinet. John was a tall, lanky lad of twenty from the Idaho State School of Forestry. He was quite an athlete and held the track record for his college.

We learned that Brashear, after sending the wire, decided that immediate action was urgent since the wind had increased to a gale. He returned to camp, turned his horse over to the cook with instructions to warn distant crews. Brashear then hurried up the mountainside on foot to warn an isolated crew of ten men.

The cook and about thirty men who were working east of Brashear's party reached Cabinet safely after a mad race ahead of the flames. They had met a boy taking lunches on a pack horse to Brashear's party, threw the boy on the pack horse, and turned him about to lead the race toward Cabinet. None of the men who had been in the big stampede would return to the fire front with Keefe and me, but we got six Finlanders who lived in the vicinity to volunteer.

We selected the intersection of two skid roads as a strategic location to try and check the fire. It had spent some of its force and slowed down at nightfall. I was acquainted with this locality and knew that one skid road led to the firefighters' camp.

It was 2:00 a.m. when Keefe and I decided we could venture through the fire front in a race to the trapped men although the fire was still dangerous, burning intermittently through the tree tops. I had left an automatic pistol on the skid road with the Finns. Days later it was found with the breech clip blown out, cocked and locked solid, a souvenir of the fire. One man asked us to watch for his abandoned suit case. All that remained of it was the metal rim.

We would run awhile, then lie down at intervals to get fresh air. Continued exertion in the smoke and heat will cause a person to faint. We passed a dead porcupine in the road as we traversed a blackened area of death and destruction where no living animal or bird remained. I was reminded of a vast graveyard. The small fires flickering dimly in the darkness high in the blackened snags could be candles burning for the dead.

Upon reaching the spring near where the camp was located we shouted until our parched throats were hoarse but got no reply. Then we climbed out of the burned timber upon the ridge to the clearing. There in the darkness we saw the huddled forms. We thought they were all dead, but to our relief we found they were sleeping the sleep of exhaustion after their ordeal. Some had their heads covered with the charred remnants of coats and blankets.

Brashear's dog lay dead in the clearing. Two men crazed with fear had bolted and perished in the flames.

The race with the fire had been hopeless and Brashear had led the men to the clearing, warning each man to soak his bedding in the spring and lie down under the wet covering. He knew this was their best chance to survive. Brashear was the only man to soak his blanket at the spring. Nothing could live at the spring since it was in a ravine in the timber. The spring was boiled dry when Keefe and I reached it.

Brashear had made a futile attempt to stop the two men who ran off. The rest of the crew were about to panic and run when he knocked a man down with a mattock handle and threatened to brain the first man to try and run. They lay down, heads toward the wind, as the fire raged past on each side of the clearing, flames hundreds of feet high fanned by a tornado wind so violent that the flames flattened out ahead, swooping to earth in great darting curves, truly a veritable red demon from hell.

At daybreak we found the charred bodies of the two men. Brashear's eyesight was temporarily impaired. Several men were sent to the hospital for minor burns.

John Keefe remained to guide the men out by the best route while I returned in haste to Cabinet to reorganize the firefighting. This was quite a problem since tools, supplies and records had been destroyed in the fire.

This fire before being checked burned to the outskirts of Cabinet and fired the timbers in the railroad tunnel nearby.

The Forest Supervisor of the Coeur d'Alene Forest had lost all contact with a large party of firefighters located about seventy miles north of Wallace, Idaho. This area was accessible from Cabinet by a journey south of about twenty-five miles across the summit of the Bitterroot Range. I was delegated to go and investigate their fate.

A husky young graduate from Michigan University, named Gillis, accompanied me on this trip. We were about to start when a woman came to our camp asking for help. Her husband, during a drunken spree, had beaten up the family and smashed the furniture. We went to her home but the place was deserted. The doors were open and a little old pack pony had wandered into the house. We found him with his nose in the flour barrel. He was brown color and looked comical with his face decorated with flour. We appropriated the horse and a pack saddle, then with a light pack we started for the North Fork.

We stopped that night at a sheep camp just over the summit of the range. There was no trail beyond so we left the porgy there. As we descended into the valley we both suffered violent headaches from smoke. We were approaching the northern limit of a fire that had burned an area forty miles wide and seventy miles in length.

We found the abandoned campsite of the missing men and tracked them westward until we were assured that they had safely crossed the Coeur d'Alene Range to Lake Pend 'Oreille. We were not acquainted with this area and did not carry enough food for such an extended journey. As darkness overtook us on the mountainside we stopped, made two fires and lay down between them. I had shot a blue grouse on the way. We cooked it on sharpened sticks and picked the bones clean. At first dawn, we went on, picked up the pony and returned to Cabinet.

By the time we had returned to Cabinet, the great fire was declared a National emergency. All efforts were directed to the protection of homes, towns and private property. Guards were placed at the entrance to mountain valleys and no unauthorized persons were allowed to pass.

After organizing the firefighting at Cabinet, I joined a party of forty laborers who were enroute from Spokane by train and guided them to a fire near Noxon, Montana. Men worked in relays all night, shoveling dirt to check the flames, and saved a homesteader's buildings. His pasture fence had burned down and the calf was removed into the house.

I carried a small canvas tarp and got a little sleep that night for the first time in over fifty hours. This fire was in the Cabinet National Forest.

I returned to Cabinet to find a desperate appeal for help from a settler located across the Clark Fork River. I summoned the faithful Finns and started but the boat was on the wrong side of the river. The Finns carried a cedar telephone pole to the river for me and riding astride the pole I paddled across and got the boat. My feet and legs in the water acted as a stabilizer to keep the log from rolling.

The Cabinet Gorge is now a noted scenic attraction where the river is compressed to rush through a rock crevice so narrow that the river virtually runs on edge. It was here at the mouth of the gorge in a big eddy that I crossed the river.

We found the settler in desperate straits. The Finns worked all night and checked the advancing flames.

The greatest loss of life occurred on the Coeur d'Alene Forest to the south near Wallace, Idaho.

You may wonder what methods are used to check a forest fire. A forest fire usually slows down at night to travel on the ground. Our greatest efforts were made from 3:00 a.m. until noon. A scout goes ahead, marking the route for the fireline, followed by axemen who clear the way for men with mattocks and shovels. These men dig off all rubbish and leaf mold to form a shallow trench. When the fire is checked at the trench some standing snags with fire in the tops remain. These are called sparkers and are felled.

Firefighting methods are greatly improved today by the use of bulldozers, portable pumps and parachute jumpers. The greatest advance has been in fire prevention, catching them at the start, benefited by an improved network of trails and telephone lines and by use of lookouts, radio, and parachute jumpers.

The destruction of animal life in the forest fires, as noted by the writer, is not pleasant to contemplate. The clowning bear, the chattering squirrel, even the fleet-footed deer, all suffer death in the forest fire. The animals that escaped the flames and were seen near our camp were dazed. Squirrels and chipmunks could be picked up, deer fed near the camp.

Today, even with the improved methods of firefighting, a Forest Ranger carries a heavy load of responsibility for the safety of his men. Danger is ever present. Under certain conditions a small fire, started in a mountain valley, builds up pressure and explodes, just as the fire in your furnace or stove sometimes backfires with a minor explosion. The surrounding mountainsides are ablaze from bottom to top in an interval of minutes and a man located above the initial blaze is doomed. During the second stage the heat develops air currents which may be augmented by high winds to fan the fire into a racing, raging monster beyond control.

When nature goes on the rampage, man's efforts are futile. I recall the legend of the young man who, while writing his Civil Service examination for Forest Ranger, came to this question, "What would you do in case of a crown fire and a head wind?" His answer: "I would run like hell and pray for rain." Right.

(Note: The fire near Cabinet has been described by Elers Koch as the Dry Creek fire. After so many years, man's memory is not always reliable, but the spring was not in the clearing at the campground; rather it was in the nearby timbered ravine. It may be there now, but was boiled dry by the fire. — EGS)

Late in September, 1910, in company with a trapper named Parker, I journeyed north from the headwaters of Smith Creek, thence down Smith Creek to the Kootenai River near Port Hill. This trip was over the most rugged, trackless terrain I have ever seen. It was made in order to get information for intelligent estimates for costs of proposed improvements for the ensuing fiscal year.

We carried five days' grub; bacon, flour, coffee, and sugar. Starting from Parker's trapper cabin on Pack River, we climbed to the summit of the Selkirk Range the first day and camped at a shallow lake. It was located on a plateau that resembled a landscaped park. The lake, crystal clear, had a bottom of solid rock. Chimney Rock, a granite spire towering five hundred feet from the top of a nearby peak, loomed up as a guiding landmark. Although Chimney Rock was a freak of nature, visible for many miles, few persons had reached its base. (A hotel keeper from Hope, Idaho, while prospecting, left his name and address in a tin can at its base. There was also a note in the can saying that whoever found the note would be rewarded with a quart of whiskey. A year later a prospector presented the note and received the reward.)

North of the lake we traversed a terrain of great broken slabs and blocks of granite. It was here that Parker nearly lost his life the previous fall. He and my brother were hunting bear and had separated. A large slab of granite tipped up with Parker's weight on the projecting end, to wedge his crossed legs between two rocks. He was trapped as securely as a bear in a steel trap, for he could not get a handhold on the rock and lift the great weight to free himself. My brother was within calling distance and with great difficulty released him.

A storm of swirling snow came up just as we approached the rim of a precipice. We looked down upon a small lake one thousand feet below, located at the base of a great cirque, an amphitheatre of solid rock. The descent to the lake was too perilous so we camped without water in a recess of a great overhanging rock.

I don't know why it is so but I sleep best when lulled by the moan and screech of the storm, perhaps because of contrast. The safety and security in the shelter of the rocky cave emphasized the feeling of comfort as we camped on the top of the range at six-thousand-feet elevation.

It was here that my brother, Arthur, wandered off the route, just a year before, when he attempted to journey across the range to Port Hill. We profited by his experience for he made a sketch map for me, with landmarks noted, as far as the lake. He made his way down to the lake, over an incline so steep that at times he had to pass his dog down from ledge to ledge by the tail. He was always careless about carrying enough grub, and this trip was no exception. He claimed that he didn't miss any meals, but he was twenty-four hours late for supper when he reached Priest Lake. He returned to the railroad and went to Port Hill by train.

The next day we had a belated breakfast at a little stream located in a deep canyon. The descent to the stream was so steep over smooth, rounded granite that we loosed our packs and let them roll down, in order to have more freedom for a safe descent.

Climbing out of the canyon we crossed a mountaintop and descended the north slope to the source of Smith Creek. The character of the country changed. We passed through a timbered valley in buck brush, so dense that we waded down the creek at times for respite.

When we stopped to have mid-day lunch, Parker, in an urgent voice, said, "Look quick." A coyote faced us from the opposite creek bank, so close Parker could discern its wrinkled nose as it sniffed the air to get our scent. Parker was tugging at his .22 pistol when the coyote turned to run. I carried a .38 Smith and Wesson in a spring holster and fired, making a perfect score. The coyote dropped dead on the gravel. The lethal bullet did not mark the hide.

Parker was a congenial partner for a wilderness trip. He did not like to cook but cut firewood and made a comfortable mattress of balsam boughs for our bed while I cooked supper that night. We reached a trapper's camp known as "The Dirt Oven" the next day. We were thankful to finally reach a pack trail. Our journey onward was downgrade on a fair trail to Smith Creek Ranger Station near the Kootenai River.

On this trip we did not see much game. Parker killed a blue grouse and a fool hen with his .22 that served as meat for the pot. A whistler or hairy marmot eluded him by ducking into a hole. The marmot's habitat is at high elevations and its period of hibernation lasts nearly seven months. Small bands of woodland caribou are native to North Idaho, but we did not see any.

Dwight Crittenden was the Ranger in charge at Smith Creek Ranger Station. He was about thirty years old, six feet tall, with wavy hair flecked with grey. He had a friendly and quiet manner and was a wonderful singer. (He and his wife had traveled extensively in Europe and the United States with a company of musical troupers. He left the Forest Service to go to Hollywood where he starred in silent pictures but had to quit the pictures after being afflicted with "kleig" eyes. I looked him up in 1922. At that time he was Deputy Marshal in Los Angeles, but was later shot and killed by a Negro bootlegger.) We helped him trail some horses to Bonners Ferry, crossing the Kootenai on a big raft that we propelled with sweep oars.

Sturgeon run up the Kootenai to the falls and attain great size. A settler, located near the ferry, had a novel way of fishing for them. He put out a baited setline attached to a cowbell located near the house. When the cowbell rang the whole family ran down to the river bank to haul in the sturgeon.

Parker and I parted company at Naples. I stopped there to visit Ranger C.E. Middleton, a man I feel proud to have known and to mention here. We were kindred spirits, both gun cranks. Middleton was the best amateur shot with pistol and rifle that I ever knew. He was about twenty five years old and looked more like a dude than a cedar savage. His looks were deceiving. He was born and raised in the Southwest, had prospected in Old Mexico, and he rode the range in New Mexico and Texas. His regular features were marred by a great scar across his forehead, curving downward into an eyebrow, the result of a knifing by two Mexican youths.

My visit with Middleton terminated my last journey in the mountains of Idaho. On January 1, 1911, I resigned from the Forest Service to go to British Columbia and to journey in the State of Matrimony.

In conclusion, in order to bring this narrative up to date I must revise my version of my most embarrassing experience. By a remarkable coincidence it has to do with a bottle, but not a bottle of hokey-pokey.

On Saturday nights I attend the old-time dance at the Crystal Garden ballroom in Victoria. At my age I need something to fortify me. Although the doctor advised taking it every twenty minutes, I don't do that. On Saturday I buy a mickey of gin, and cut it in half with ginger ale. At 8:30 p.m. I take a big snort and replace the bottle to my hip pocket. At intermission, with some friendly help, the mickey is finished.

On this night in particular, I was waltzing with my lady friend (not to the Tennessee Waltz; it was faster - the Viennese waltz), when I heard a dull boom and felt a blow on the hip: I thought I was shot. The mickey had exploded in my hip pocket, and I was not even half shot! In my most courtly manner I apologized to the lady for leaving so abruptly, then slipped out the side door, mounted my Crap-Shooters' Special, and rattled and rolled for home.

Cedar tree measuring 17.4 feet in diameter (about 53 feet around in Clearwater country. (1953)

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Last Updated: 15-Oct-2010