Mr. Ben Kemp was interviewed at Carlsbad, New Mexico. While Ben was born in Texas, he has lived in New Mexico since 1896. He has been a cowboy, rancher, lawman, and Forest Ranger. Even though he is now retired, he continues to work and to tell stories of the early days. Some of his experiences are given, as he recounted them.
When did you first know about the Forest Reserves, as they were known then?
The first I knew of them was noticing posters on the trees around the branding corral and what they called the 74 Corral on the head of Hoyt Creek. And that was let me see about 1899.
What was the reaction of the local people to it?
Well they didn't seem to think too much about it, only they wondered why it was necessary for the Forest Service to put that in a Reserve. There was some questions as to what the reason was, that is, the local people, the cowboys and ranchers.
They weren't antagonistic then?
They were sort of indifferent; it didn't matter much. No, it didn't matter much, but they did wonder why the Government would do such a thing.
As I recall, you told me about Fred Winn being the first Ranger to come in there.
Fred came in to the DD Bar which was owned at that time by the Red River Land & Cattle Company, which was down on the East Fork about eight miles below where we lived. He couldn't find any place to stay. Of course, at that time the Forest Rangers were getting only $75.00 a month and he had to pay his board and his horse's feed and everything out of that, so it was considered by the cowboys as being less than what they were gettin'. They were being paid $35.00 or $40.00 a month and board, and of course their horses were furnished. Fred couldn't find a place down at the DD Bar or anyplace else.
There weren't many people living in that country, just a rancher here and there. So he came up and rented a little log cabin; the cabin was made out of cottonwood logs that my daddy had cut and hewed along the creek. There was just one room; I'd say it was about 10 by 14. That was his Ranger's quarters, the first Ranger's quarters I ever knew of on the Gila.
He had several head of horses. I don't know just how many. He kept two there at the ranch, and I think he kept two at the N-Bar, and two at Chloride. He would ride one horse and take a pack horse with him to Chloride and leave that horse there, and back to N-Bar, or something like that. He would change horses. He was supposed to put in, I guess six days a week; every day but Sunday he had to ride. He had to own about six horses. You can imagine what that mounted up to. In the wintertime he had to buy feed grain and that ran into money pretty fast. That was the first Ranger quarters that I knew of.
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From the 1908 Use Book: A ranger of any grade must be thoroughly sound and able-bodied, capable of enduring hardships and of performing severe labor under trying conditions. He must be able to take care of himself and his horses in regions remote from settlement and supplies.
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When did you first think about getting into the Forest Service?
That was when I came back from overseas in World War I.
I had, of course, always wanted to work in the forest since I was a child. I grew up in the forest. When I came back from overseas, the Veterans Bureau started giving us training two year's training I think it was. I couldn't get in at first so I took a job with the Biological Survey, in the predatory animal section. I worked with them a while, but I still wanted to get into the Forest Service. I couldn't get in, so eventually they transferred me to Las Cruces for two years' training at the A&M College. I was there two years and as soon as I came back (I left there in the spring of 1924). I came back to Magdalena and met Ed McPhaul.
Ed was talking at the time about me taking a job with him. The first work I did, though, for the Forest Service was for Fred Ayres. I did some trail work for Fred Ayers in the summer of 1924. Then in 1925 I was smokechaser for Ed McPhaul on the O-Bar-O District, or the Elk Mountain District, rather. I camped out in a tent over on Shepherd Canyon and worked with him continuously then until Jewell Wyche took over.
In the fall of 1934 I ran for County Sheriff, and was elected. I served as Sheriff in '35 and '36 and then in 1937 I came back and worked for you at Beaverhead.
I passed the Ranger exam in 1928.
What was the exam like?
Well, at that time it required only a high school education. There were just a few mathematical questions and things of that kind, that pertained to general work, outside work, packing and one thing or another. It wasn't a very hard exam, that is, for anyone that lived in the out-of doors. It was all written.
At the time I passed the examination I was working for Fred McCament on the Jewett District on the Apache. Kartchner was Supervisor at that time and he didn't have an opening for me. He thought maybe Kirby might have, over on the Datil, so I transferred from there to the Datil. I was working as Administrative Guard with McCament and went from there over to the Datil to Jewell Wyche, Ranger on the Elk Mountain District.
I worked on the Elk Mountain District, that was in the fall of '29 and I worked with Jewell from '29 until '34. I was two years out, in the Sheriff's office. Then I came back.
I would like to get some of this history that you know about place names, and some of those places like Dead Man Springs; you used to tell me how that got its name.
Well, Dead Man Springs got its name from a gun fight there between a bunch of cowboys. It was between a fellow by the name of Grosstead and two fellows by the name of West. These two West boys were brothers. One of then was a little bad-talking and he made a snide remark about this Grosstead boy's sister.
They were camping in two wagons, and my cousin Henry Graham was there at the time. He was just a little boy then. The Y wagon and the V+T wagons were camped there at this spring at the head of Negrite Creek, on the west edge of the Valle Bonito. Grosstead took exception to this, he was just a young fellow, he was with the Y Ranch and these other two boys were with the V+T wagon. He was cooking.
When these brothers came in to dinner, the camps were just a small distance apart (about a hundred yards), he walked over there. This West boy had just got his plate and started to sit down to eat when Grosstead walked up and asked, "Did you say this about my sister?" And West said, "Yes, you so-and-so." I guess they were just hot-headed boys. He just threw that plate to one side and went after his gun. Of course, Grosstead was watching for this, and he shot him; he killed him right there.
His brother (West's) was out, I think, with the day herd. Anyway, he wasn't very far away. Somebody told him and he came in, pretty sore of course, about the shootin', and started to grab up his gun. Grosstead told him, "Don't do that. I haven't got anything against you and you're not in this row: don't do that." But this boy just went ahead end picked up the gun and shot Grosstead before he was shot. Grosstead killed him. They took Grosstead over to Apache Creek, to where the old Gann Ranch is now. His folks lived there at the time. He died four or five days later. So that is where Dead Man Spring got its name.
It was really "dead men!"
Yes, just a bunch of hot-heads. It didn't amount to anything anyway, but they were just hot-headed young fellows.
I guess many of the fights down there started over something like that?
Yes, just practically over nothing. I know of the same kind of set-up over at Chloride in 1909. I was there and saw that one. It was caused by talk, gossip, amongst the folks.
A man named Taylor (Taylor Creek was named after him), Jimmy Taylor and Ike Putch, one of the cowboys, they got into a squabble over what the womenfolk had said, Just over nothin', but it went on and on.
It was Thanksgiving night in 1909. We were drillin' a well for the Satthesites up above Monticello there on the Alamosa. So we rode 30 miles on horseback down to that dance. There was Denton Satthesite; Al Hagy; the Tucker boys. John Tucker and his brother. We got down there and the dance had just started.
My brother-in-law and a fellow named Dave Sorrel were running a bar at that time. I went down there to talk to him a while. Putch and Taylor were standing there by the stove talkin'. I knew both of them; had for years. So I went over and shook hands with them. I noticed they didn't have too much to say. So I walked out and went back to the dance hall and danced a two-step with Mrs. Dodd, Dick Dodd's wife, and came out and saw Tom Tucker looking through the front of the dance hall. It had been an old store building and the front of it was plate glass.
I knew he was a stranger, and I knew all the children down there, the girls and all the young people, and I thought I'd get Tom and take him in and make him acquainted so he'd have a good time. Just as I stepped out on the porch, that gunfight started. It was in the street, practically right in front of the saloon, really the bar, but it was just a few steps down the street.
And Boy! It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to run. I saw Putch when he fell. He was using one of these small caliber, .25 caliber automatics, and he emptied that thing. He only hit old man Taylor twice on the right side of the chest. And the old man hit him twice. He got him right above the hip, and the last bullet split his sleeve, went down his elbow, hit him in the chest and came out against the hide on the opposite shoulder, his left shoulder.
He went down when that happened and the old man shot again. He was falling. The old man, I guess, was already out himself but he just ran up over Putch and snapped that gun at him after he fell to the ground. Then he started takin' little short steps runnin' backwards and just made a sort of circle and dropped. I don't believe he moved after he went down.
I turned around and told Tom, "We'd better get inside. They'll have us in Hillsboro (County Seat) for the next ten years!" I thought it was a drunken bout and never thought about it being Taylor and Putch. I tried to get in, but by that time Mrs. Putch had been down there, her and the boy, and they were havin' an argument amongst them, and when that happened they just ran a horse race to the dance hall. Just as I got to the door they weren't looking for anybody. I don't suppose she was anyway. She hit me and knocked me to one side and went in through that hall screaming and yelling that Ike had been killed.
They were dancing a waltz, and everybody stopped, of course. Bert Slinkard, he hollared, "Go on with the dance; that wasn't anything but a bunch of firecrackers." But I knew it wasn't firecrackers! As soon as she did that, Mrs. Taylor was in there, and she heard it, and Boy! she came out of there runnin' like a racehorse. Just as I got ready to try again to get back inside, she came out the door and knocked me back out again. So I just quit tryin' to get inside.
I thought, since it had happened right in front of the bar where my brother-in-law was. I'd go down and see if he had got hurt. Of course he hadn't. Well, anyway, somebody had come down from McCadens, they had a ranch up there, and he had just got in front of the dance hall when that fight started. I guess one of the bullets came pretty close to him. Anyway he turned that horse around and you could hear him whippin' that horse away up along the creek, louder than the hoof beats. Boy! Was that horse running! Tom Tucker said, "He's in kind of a hurry, ain't he?" I said, "I don't much blame him." I went on down to the bar, and nobody had got hurt down there.
Berry Cox his people later lived down by Hot Springs he stayed over for the dance, and had his horse down at Winston's Feed Yard. It was down the street over on the south side of the street from the bar. He had started down there to see about his horse when that shootin' started. Down on the corner where he made the turn on the road that went off to Hot Springs there was an old building that they had partly torn down. They'd taken the windows out of it and hadn't left anything but the sills.
Boy, he was flying when that shootin' started! They were shootin' toward him with that old automatic, I guess. Anyway, he was a big old long-legged boy and he started runnin'. When he got down to where that old building was, he just made a high dive through one of those window openings, and he landed in there on top of the trash. It bunged him up all over, sure crippled him up. He decided he was goin' back to Hillsboro that night. Someone said, "Well Berry, the fight's over now." He said, "I don't care, another one might start!" He did he took off he'd had enough.
That was the first gun fight I ever saw, and I'm tellin' you right now, those things happen so fast they're all over before you know what happened. We didn't get to dance any, that broke it all up. We got back home and Den Statthesites had a bunch of hounds and they had killed all the chickens, so that was a bad trip all the way around.
Ben, do you remember up at Negrito in the horse pasture there is a bunch of graves?
Those were sheepherders, old Salomone Luna's sheepherders. Vittorio had come in there with a bunch of Apaches and killed nine sheepherders and they didn't find them. I think Bob Lewis found part of 'em, six or seven of 'em, down there on the T Bar Creek just where it boxes up, you know.
Anyway, they killed the sheepherders and turned all the sheep loose on the range. Sheep were runnin' all over that country. Some of the sheepmen around Aragon got their start from those loose sheep after the herders were killed. The V-Cross cowboys were out there ridin' on the head of the T-Bar country. Of course there weren't any fences anywhere there at that time, only little traps, horse pastures, or something of that kind. Anyway, they were out there ridin' and they run onto nearly 2,000 head of sheep and a couple of dogs were herdin' those sheep. They were trained to take care of sheep, and that was a year or better after the Indians had killed the sheepherders.
Do you mean that those dogs had kept the sheep all that time?
The dogs kept the sheep and they wouldn't let the cowboys come up to the herd at all. They'd charge 'em. Every time they got close to the sheep, they'd take after 'em. And those birds killed the two dogs. Dad always said that was something pretty bad for them to kill those dogs after they had guarded those sheep and taken care of 'em for better'n a year.
I asked Ed Otero once about those rocks piled there, and he explained it to me. He said they didn't have the bodies of these herders but they brought a priest out from somewhere. Los Lunas maybe that's where the sheepherders had lived and for each one of them, they went through some kind of ritual, whatever it was, and then they built a monument with his name on it and the priest said a blessing over it; although, they were just a pile of rocks. It wasn't where the actual burial took place, because the bodies were not found. I don't know how come.
Did Salomone own the N-Bar Ranch then?
Yes, he owned the holdings, and Ab Alexander was a sort of pardner. I believe there was some kind of partnership for a while.
Ab ran cattle in there?
Yes, he ran cattle. Of course it was too high country for a cattle ranch, but he ran 'em in there just the same. He stayed in there from about 1900 or 1901, I think, until 1909. Then he sold it back or turned it back to Solomone. By that time the old man it might've been 1910 but anyway, when old man Solomone fell into the dipping vat and drowned, that estate was divided up among his nephews. You see Ed and Manuel and all of them were nephews of old man Salomone. That estate was divided and I suppose the ranch went to some of 'em, and I guess Ab decided to get out of it. Anyway, he got out about that time, about the time old man Salomone drowned in that dipping vat.
I know we were in town when they brought the body in. He fell in the dipping vat out there at the Allegros. He was dipping sheep and they figured he had a heart attack. He went out there, they thought, after night to get a drink of water. They had a water tank setting on the edge of the vat, and he fell in the vat. Next morning they found him in the vat. They brought him in on an old touring car; they just took the top off of it and laid him across it on boards. That's the way they brought him in.
Of course when Ed died, Manuel took it all then. And Manuel is gone now. He died a year or two ago. But they had that ranch in there, or had sheep in there anyway, since the latter part of the '70s.
When the Indians made that raid through the country, before they could get back there, the sheep were scattered all over the country. Bob Lewis said he was in there, I believe, before you reach the box in T-Bar, there is a big bend in there, a big open bend. He said he found seven or eight skeletons laying in that bend there in the creek bed. He dug a grave and buried the bones. He always figured they were Salomone's sheepherders, which for some reason or other no one had ever found.
Guess things were pretty scary in there, with the Indians right there in the edge of the Mogollons. I don't think Salomone went back in there very much until old Geronimo was caught, and that was in '95 or '96, along in there someplace. After that, he went back in there some.
You know Ab Alexander was wagon boss for the company for a while.
Oh, for the V-Cross?
Yes, he was the one that owned it about the time old man Nat Straw had a run-in with the Indians down there. Starting in, it was Ab and Buck Powell. Buck was killed over there at Fairview at a bar. Some fellow by the name of Allen killed him. It was just one of those things that happen, I suppose. Both of 'em had come from Texas in the early days. I suppose there had been some kind of feud, because once in a while there would be that kind of thing.
But anyway, Buck had come in the bar there. Old Man Marks was running the bar. Buck was standin' up at the bar and he had a pocket knife and was pecking on the bar, just standin' there absent mindedly turning the knife over and letting it drop on the bar. Old man Marks said, "Buck, don't do that." "The boys have beat it with six-shooters and one thing and another and dented it already." "The old bar's already in bad shape," Buck said. "Yes, all right," and just stuck the knife in his pocket. This Allen just jerked out his six-shooter and shot him from the hip and hit him right between the eyes and killed him instantly. They never did know what the trouble was. They sent Allen to the penitentiary for 50 years, I think it was, and he died in the penitentiary.
They were kind of hot-headed, weren't they?
Yes, it was just one of those things. They didn't know what Allen had taken offense at, but I imagine it was some old feud probably. Plenty of that kind of thing happened; they'd come out into that country away out of nowhere.
You never saw anybody. I know that was the case during the Spanish-American War. We lived out in the hills. We never saw anybody there in Beavercreek.
We didn't know there was a War going on until after War was declared and the Battle of Manila Bay was fought. Dad took the Galveston News, but he only went to the Post Office once in a while. It was 30 miles across the Black Range to the Post Office, and that called for a two-day trip, and so he never went over very often. He'd bring back a sack of papers every time he went. He sat and read newspapers for a week to find out what had happened. There could be a war fought and won before he'd know what was going on. I had a lot of experiences in those old days.
How did you get your schooling when you were away out like that?
Well, they moved us over to Chloride and we went to the Chloride schools. The first school we went to was Fairview. August Meyers was the teacher. That was in '99. Then they moved us back to Beaverhead and we didn't get back to school then until 1902. Dad moved us to Chloride again so we went to school there. Miss Maude Anderson was our teacher. We went to school two years there, and then the rest of it was private schooling, what we got from private teachers there at the ranch.
To tell you the truth, we didn't any of us get any education. We just lived too far from where there were any schools. They didn't have sessions of any kind. The nearest ranch was they call it the Ake Ranch now it was over on Taylor Creek. They were just ranchers, of course, and the only way we had a teacher was to hire a private one.
That grave up there at Slater you remember there was a little grave out . . .
Oh, that was a sheepherder. That was one of Luna's sheepherders who was killed by lightning. He was in camp and lightning hit him and they said that lightning knocked both of his shoes off, clear off his feet, some eight or ten feet away.
I often wondered about that because it seemed so lonely out there.
Yes, that was a sheepherder. I don't know how long ago that was, but a good long while ago because it was before I came in there. Ed Otero told me, or I wouldn't have known who it was.
There were two more graves, you know, right up above the N Bar. They were old man Comby, I believe his name was and I don't know what the other fellow's name was. Comby was supposed to have committed suicide, but Dad said when they went over to bury him, the razor that was supposed to have been used to cut his throat, was under the pillow. They said he must have been a pretty determined guy, to have cut his throat and then hide the razor under his pillow!
Some of them knew that he and his wife had been in a row over some money (it was in gold) and he wouldn't tell her where it was. There was a lot of suspicion that there might've been something funny there. They never did find that money until years afterwards, after old man Bob Lewis came in. He owned that place in '96. I guess it was; that is, he was living there I don't say that he owned it. It probably belonged to Luna then.
When Dad and Uncle Steve moved to the Big Bend down there in '85, I guess it was no, it was '86 they had a little bunch in Llano County (Texas), so they moved 'em to the Big Bend below Alpine. When Uncle Steve left there he moved his cattle up here west of Cliff, on Blue Creek. Dad still had a few head of calves down there. I remember the old cows were branded A-T-E; A on the shoulder, T on the side, and E on the hip. We went down, when he took that place on Beaver, he decided to go get them cattle, 28 head of 'em young cows. So we went down there after them.
We went across that old road where Captain Cooney blazed trail. It was the roughest road that ever was; all they did was just blaze a right of way and followed wherever they could get through. It dropped off into Mineral Creek there right above Cooney Mines. It was awful country. Somebody went off there in a buckboard. They found it upside down, about 300 feet off the bottom. Mama wouldn't ride down there; she got out and walked, and made us children get out, too.
Anyway, we got down there and got the cattle, and coming back we stopped in there at Weatherby's on Mineral Creek, just above the highway, the first ranch above the highway, up the creek side from the highway. I believe McKeen owns that now. They had a phonograph there, the first one I had ever seen. It didn't have any horn; it had tubes that you stuck in your ear, you know, like plugs. Just one person could listen.
A big change from TV!
Oh my goodness yes. If you had told people in those days about what we have today, they'd have known you were crazy! We camped over there, and nothing would do but that we had to come up and visit with them, so we did. They were all excited about their phonograph; it was one of these little old Edisons, you know.
We stayed there all night then and went up and crossed the Divide trailing cattle on to Beaver Creek. We went all that distance now, and coming back we'd got a couple of pigs from Uncle Steve and we had 'em on the back in a crate. We got off down there in Indian Creek.
The road went like it does now, only after it left Indian Creek running south, it went up a little canyon. The road is built on the side of it now. A little arroyo comes down there, you know. It went up quite a ways, then it turned out on the right-hand side and when you started up that it was a pretty hard pull. We had a couple of little mules hooked on the back, and my cousin Ollie Kemp was driving. Mama was sitting up in the front seat with my sister Mary she was a baby then and the three of us back in this covered wagon back behind; a light wagon. I don't know, it had bedding in it, one thing and another, a trunk I think, and some other stuff. I know for one thing there was a barrel of butter in there.
And so we started up and the mule on the upper side broke the single-tree loose from the double tree. The clevis broke and one mule fell to his knees and when he did he shoved the other one off that grade. We rolled about 30 feet into the bottom of that canyon. The wagon turned completely over with all of us kids and Mother sitting on the seat. I don't know where it threw her and Mary, but they got out alive someway.
Dad and Uncle Steve were on the road up ahead of us driving the cattle. Ollie, my cousin, went to hollering and screaming so they came down to see what had happened. Dad was spurrin' and whippin' down there and he said he couldn't tell which was doin' the squealin', the kids or the pigs! He didn't take time to pull that wagon sheet off. He just took his knife and slit a hole down the side of it and reached in and pulled one out, and if he looked all right he put him down, reached in and pulled out another one.
Broke a wagon wheel all to pieces and we had to walk from Indian Creek over to where the Steeple U is now, my grandfather was living over there. That place belonged to the V-Cross outfit at that time.
And none of you were hurt?
I got a little bump on my head. I was the only one that was bothered at all, and it didn't hurt me very much. It doesn't seem possible that with all of us in there, it just doesn't seem possible that it could have happened. The Good Lord sure had His hand on our head that time.
There used to be a little old log cabin down at the springs, down on Beaver Creek, a beaver trapper's cabin was what it was. Old Man Moore had been trapping in there, an old bear hunter, Old Bear Moore. Once we camped there.
It was late evening when we got there, late afternoon anyway. There was a little drizzly rain, cold as could be. Dad unhooked the mules of course that was the first thing. Then he tied 'em to a Gambel oak in the draw there. Then he got an axe. There was an old rich pine log laying there and he got some splinters off of that and was gonna start a fire. There was an old fireplace in the back of it. But while he was unhooking the mules, on that big old bluff that's on the south side of the creek there at Beaver where those springs are, well, an old lion screamed up on top of that hill. The hair just raised up on the top of my head I was about six years old.
Boy, I'm tellin' you it sounded bad to me to hear that scream echoing up that canyon! I got scared right quick and said to Dad, "What was that?" I'd never heard one before. He said, "Oh that's only a mountain lion," and went on working.
Well, we had this slicker with us tryin' to keep the rain off. He got some kindling, shaved up a bunch of that stuff, you know, and had it on the fireplace. I was standin' in the door looking around the edge. I was wonderin' where that old lion was! He had hung that slicker up above the door on a splinter or something and it fell down on my head. Boy, I let out a scream Dad had a match down and was just ready to start the kindling, and when I yelled he scattered that kindling all over the place, and he said, "What the devil is the matter with you?" Then he saw what had happened and he got tickled then of course.
Where was the Military Road?
Well, that Military Road ran all the way from Fort Wingate down to the edge of the Plains out there, then it forked. One road came down to the old Ojo Caliente post. The other come in by the Adobes. They had a kind of a post or something there for a while; issuing out supplies to the Apaches, you know. You see, the Apaches used to be on that range of mountains up there, the San Mateos, and in through there. It came on down through Corduroy Canyon. That's where Corduroy got its name. You see, there were marshy places down that canyon and the soldiers cavalry I guess it was they split big old pine logs in half and laid them crossway so they could get across the marshy places on 'corduroys.' That's where it got its name, Corduroy Canyon.
Did it go on down Taylor Creek?
No, it went on down to just above the Beaver boxes there and turned out the way the road goes now, over the top of the hill, crossed Indian Creek down where the bridge is, went out on the east side, and then went down the mesa it didn't go into Taylor Creek. It went down the Divide between Beaver Creek and Taylor, and dropped off down there at what they call Undertaker Hill. While they were there, the Indians killed a couple of soldiers up there on Indian Creek. That's where Indian Creek got its name.
What these fellows had done they were a couple of cavalry troopers they were looking for a supply train in. It was late, hadn't showed up and they went up to Corduroy to see what had happened. They didn't find the train, so they turned back and went back down Indian Creek. They were coming up that canyon where we had turned over there, and an Indian ran out into the road ahead of them, with one of these Navajo blankets with all kinds of colors, you know, red and black and white. So they pulled their horses to a halt when he did that. The Indians bushwhacked them there was a bunch of Indians sittin' up on the ridge.
One soldier lived a while. He fought the Indians off and they were gone when help came. But he died before they could get him back to camp.
Well, they didn't have any lumber or anything to work with to make coffins, so they hollowed out a big old pine log, cut out of dead pine. They hollowed that thing out until they could lay those fellows in there. That was their coffins. By the time they got them fixed, this supply train come back in and they hauled them up onto that first little bench on that point between Beaver Creek and Taylor, where they come together there, and they buried the soldiers right on top there.
Years and years afterwards just in the last ten years I guess, there was a bunch of fellows out there digging in the Indian ruins, and they dug those fellows up, in their old log coffin.
Where did that road go then; that was the road to Ft. Bayard wasn't it?
It went down just a little ways below the mouth of Beaver and Taylor, then it turned out to the left and went over the ridge and into Diamond a little ways, about down to somewhere around Link-Bar-Link place, then it turned back out of Diamond and onto one of the canyons that comes in from the southeast, and then up one of the big canyons I think they call it the Lone Star Canyon. It runs up that canyon and heads out on top and goes across Black Canyon.
It crossed Black Canyon?
Below where the present road is?
Yes, below where the present road is. That was a long, rough way through there. They went across there and worked their way on through there and came out on North Star Mesa in there.
They crossed Rocky, too?
Yes, crossed Rocky, too. Oh, it was a terrible road, terrible. You could hardly ride a horse; I don't know how they ever got anything through there. Of course they hauled most of their supplies in from the north through Magdalena. That was their regular route. That was where the troops come through.
Were the troops coming through pretty often in the early days?
Well, back in the '70s that was before we come in there they had several locations. There was a post there at the mouth of Beaver and Taylor, Camp Vincent. It's on the old maps. I knew there were some soldiers there but I didn't know what the name of it was. Then in 1923, I believe it was, when I was down there at Las Cruces, I sent to Washington and got some of the earliest maps they had and they showed Camp Vincent. I may still have the old maps, I'm not sure. I don't know how many soldiers they had there, but I know they had a few cavalry.
Bill Keating, the fellow who used to own that ranch over there, he freighted for them, with ox teams, and hauled supplies for the troops in the early days.
From Magdalena. He told us one time the way he got his start. You see, the V+T was first taken up by a couple of Mexicans; I don't know just what their names were. Two of 'em took up that cienega there at the Slash headquarters ranch. The Indians, one of Vitorio's outfit, killed them, both of them. They had a little bunch of cattle, a few head. I don't know how many.
After they had killed the Indians, old man Bill was hauling freight for the troops there at Camp Vincent. He had oxen and had one of these oxen trained to ride; he could ride him. He camped up at the head of Kennedy, you know, up there above the springs.
While he was there a bunch of cattle come in, strays, to the spring. There was a big maverick in the outfit, about a two-year old, he said, so he gets his old oxen, the one he could ride, and ties a rope around the old oxen's neck, loose so he wouldn't choke him, and gets on the old oxen's back and lays down and works himself in among this bunch of cattle into where this maverick was. He gets a loop on the maverick he had the old oxen trained of course so he drug this old maverick out to a tree and made the old oxen hold him, and he heeled him and stretched him out and branded him. And that's how he got started in the cow business!
He bought that ranch from the Mexicans that lived over there at the Ake place, as we used to call it. That's how he got started in the cattle business, but that's doin' it the hard way I'd say.
You were talking about names. Well, Deer Canyon, the kids named that Deer Canyon.
How did Railroad Canyon get its name?
Well, that was named by cowboys. Some time along about 1885 the Santa Fe, I suppose it was, ran a survey from Magdalena to Silver City. They came right down Railroad Canyon and along Beaver Creek. I don't know where they came out of the Gila down there, but it was too much for them anyway. They didn't tackle it, but they drove stakes, Dad said, all up and down that canyon. They got to calling it Railroad Canyon because of those stakes the surveyors had left in.
Didn't you tell me that down below Slater, right there at the edge of the Plains, wasn't there a little settlement in there?
Slater, yes there were several cabins in through there. Doolittle's and Stanley's, I can't recall who else lived there. The old T-Bar Ranch used to be right on down below Slater, down that canyon; down where that main canyon comes in there. T-Bar Ranch was right there in the fork of that canyon right close to the road.
The first time we went through there was in '96 and the ranch was there then. After I was working for the Forest Service in 1920 or '21, the ranch was gone. That was the only thing that I remember that could be called a settlement, that is, around close to Slater. They had little bunches of cattle, that was Doolittle, Stanley, and Jack Francis. In 1918 snow put them out of business. They starved out; their cattle died on them and they just lost plumb out, you might say. Jack Francis had a few horses and that's about all he had. Lost his cattle and had some stock horses left, that's all.
I know we started over there one time; a fellow by the name of Crane was Ranger there at the O-Bar-O then. We started over there and ran into a bear out there just below the station. Jack had his arm broken; he was breakin' a colt and jerked his arm around a pole and broke it. He had a saddle rope; I didn't have one. He gave me his saddle rope and helped me and we drove that bear we intended to drive him right up to the station. We got off down there at the edge of the horse pasture and he climbed up into a little old pine tree. I took Jack's rope and roped him and jerked him out of that tree made a pretty good catch, caught him right around the neck. When he hit the ground he bounced like a rubber ball and took off up the canyon right towards the station.
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Service Order 22 - September 25, 1908.
Observance of State Law by Forest Officers. - "It has recently been brought to the attention of this Service that Forest officers themselves have in rare instances failed to observe the State game laws. Strict observance, both by act and example, of all State laws, whether for the protection of game or for other purposes, is one of the first duties of every Forest officer. Under no circumstances should one Forest officer shield or condone the act of another who violates the game laws. To do so differs little from actual violation of the law itself. This Service will not tolerate violation of the State game laws by any of its members, or failure to cooperate fully with State game officials."
Gifford Pinchot, Forester
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We thought we could probably drag him on the end of that rope and haul him right up into the front yard. But he went on down to the lower side of the horse pasture there at the station. The bear got hot and he got mad. He was tryin' to work his foot into that loop around his neck, and we couldn't drive him any farther. Jack got off he was kinda handicapped with one arm, of course and he had on a pair of those big old heavy Silver City leggins. He thought he could whip that bear and maybe make him start runnin again, but he couldn't do it the bear would try to fight him. The old pony was scared about half to death. Jack would hit him with those leggins, and that bear would try to get to Jack, and when he couldn't get to Jack, he'd charge me. And the second I gave that pony the reins, boy, he had left there; I don't mean maybe!
We see-sawed back and forth around there and couldn't do anything. Jack said, "Well, I'll go up to the station and get Crane's gum and we'll kill him." I held him on the end of the rope until Jack went up and got Crane, and there was somebody there with Crane. I can't remember who it was, and they come back with a six-shooter and shot the bear through the head and killed him. So they had bear steaks; I never did care anything for bear meat. Never did like it.
I'll tell you one thing that I always thought was kind of funny. There's a bunch of old cottonmouth water moccasins there on Beaver Creek. Now there wasn't any of the things anywhere in the Gila below Beaver Creek. The water was too cold, I suppose. Well, now, there might've been some over at the warm springs on the Middle Fork, hot springs, but there's sure plenty of them up and down Beaver Creek. They were the only ones in that part of the country that I knew anything of, and how they got in there is something else again.
I know when we moved in there, first on Beaver Creek, they'd been trappin' beaver all up and down through there. I noticed where they'd taken an augur and bored some holes, about two and a half or two inches, maybe, in diameter. They drove horseshoe nails at an angle down, you know, at the top of the holes, right around the rim, and with the points turned down. I couldn't figure out what they were; I asked my Dad and he told me they were 'coon traps. You take a bright button, or a minnow and put a little water in that thing and a 'coon would come along and he'd see that minnow or whatever it was down there. He'd force his foot down in there, but when he went to pull it back out the sharp horseshoe nails would stick into his foot, and the harder he'd yank, the deeper they'd go. So they had him trapped.
The most wonderful horse we ever had, we caught. Dad "walked down" a bunch of wild horses up there. I'd often heard of "walking down," but I didn't know what it was; I was just a little kid. There was a bunch of wild horses up there around the points of Luera Mountains and out over Pelona Ridge in the Wahoos, you remember up there towards Coyote Peak?
All that Wahoo country and in through there. They couldn't pen 'em; the fellers had been tryin' to pen 'em there for several years and they couldn't do anything with 'em. They'd just get up and run off from 'em.
So in the spring of the year Dad and Uncle John said, "Well, we'll go up there." They took us boys along as horse wranglers. My cousins and I, the Graham boys, we went up there and Dad said he was gonna walk 'em down, and he did. He just took his saddle horse and a pack of grub and some grain for his horse and rode out to where these wild horses were. Of course they saw him and took off, but they left a pretty good trail. He'd track'em up and they'd run off again. Of course, he was ridin' a shod horse and a grain horse, too. He trailed the things, followed 'em away to the old Post down there on the Alamosa Canada and circled around and came back up through Wahoo Canyon and in through there, Sullivan's Hole and all in through that country.
He had told Uncle John to keep a lookout, that in about so many days the horses'd come back to their old range again, whether anybody was after them or not. So in about seven or eight days or something like that, Uncle John was out on one of the high points on east of North Water there, and he saw these horses comin' over the ridge. Pretty soon he saw Dad trailin' after them. Well, by that time they'd got so tender-footed, and they were used to him bein' after 'em that he could ride out to one side or the other and kinda head 'em in the general direction. They were so tender-footed they could hardly walk. It was in the spring of the year and they were weak.
All that time that he was chasin' em we kept the remuda. Ever' night when they'd get ready to go in we'd get in behind that remuda with a doubled-up rope and go to hollerin'. We had a couple of old mules we used as a work team and those mules would always be right in the lead. We'd run'em into the corral there at North Water. The corral had big old wings on it, on each side of the gate, and we'd run 'em in there at a dead run. They got so ever' evening whenever we'd holler, they'd take out because they knew if they didn't they were gonna get a figger J jerked on 'em with a rope. They had us hold the remuda, right in under one of the ridges. They knew right where we were.
They ran the wild horses right over into that remuda. As soon as they got into that, they were all mixed up. We hollered a few times and they took out right for the corral. They hit that corral on a dead run, and these other horses was all mixed up amongst them. When they saw they were headin' into a corral, they just sat down, but they were packed in so tight around 'em that they just shoved 'em in through that gate. One of 'em, when he seen he was through the gate, he ran right across the corral, a big old heavy log corral, and ran right straight into that and broke his neck. So they lost one of their good horses. One of these was a colt, a brown blaze-faced colt, with stocking legs. We called him Baldy Socks and Uncle John gave him to me. That colt made one of the best cuttin' horses in the Southwest.
That horse was the cause of two different men gettin' killed. One of them was the Apache Kid who stole him; the other time he was stolen was by a guy that lived over by Salt Lake. Another man saw the horse and told about it. They got into a squabble and this guy killed the old guy who had told on him, and then eventually killed the horse took him out and shot him and rolled him into an arroyo to keep them from getting evidence, you see. Pretty bad! That happened at Salt Lake, after we had moved out there.
Dad sold the horses to Charley Anderson when he sold the cattle in 1900. I guess it was, when we moved to Chloride. He first sold 'em to a fellow by the name of Humphrey, riding with the James boys. Humphrey sold them to Charley Anderson.
When the Apache Kid come through and killed that man there at Hermosa, he came on up to the James cabin and tore it all to pieces. A posse eventually trailed him to the top of the San Mateos. By the time they got up on Blue Mountain side there it was dark, or almost dark. They could see a fire-light right down ahead, in one of the deep saddles. They tried to get down there but they couldn't make it. They found it too rough, and got off on the wrong point and went down the wrong way and had to backtrack, and by the time they got back on top it was nearly daylight.
As soon as it got daylight they could see tracks going down this ridge. They went down the ridge and got down on the side of the slope into this saddle, and they run into these horses grazing on the side of the hill. So of course Billy knew this horse of his Dad's as soon as he saw him. They just got off and laid down in the grass among the logs and rocks, and waited amongst them horses. Along about daylight the sun was just comin' up the Apache Kid come up there to get the horses. Billy Kiehne said he walked up to within sixteen feet of them. They had all agreed to shoot at once, and boy, they let 'em have it. He was carrying a rifle across his arm. They said he jumped as high as he could go, nearly, and went right over backwards and threw he had a .30-.40 rifle and they said he threw that rifle down the side of that hill about 30 steps.
There was another one with him and they started shootin' at him and he run off down through that saddle and they never did find his body, but Bill Kiehne said there was blood splattered on the rocks just like you'd shot a deer through the heart. So they figured he didn't get away.
So that's where the Apache Kid got it?
That's where he got it right on top of the San Mateos.
Mr. Gilbert W. Sykes was interviewed by Chuck Ames on July 7. 1964 and then again by Ed Tucker on February 1, 1965. Both interviews were conducted with Gil at the Sykes residence in Tucson, Arizona.
Mr. Sykes' Forest Service experience dates from 1919 on the Catalina District of the Coronado National Forest. All of Mr. Sykes' experience in the Forest Service has been on the Coronado National Forest with the exception of a few months on the Coconino, and about six or eight months in the Regional Office. Mr. Sykes spent his early years on the Catalinas and on the Chiricahua Mountains, and the last 23 years preceding his retirement in 1962 were spent on the Nogales District.
Gilbert Sykes is the son of the late Godfrey A. Sykes, who was associated with the Desert Laboratory in the Tucson area, which was started in 1903. With such a beginning, Gilbert was introduced to conservation and National Forest administration at an early age. He accompanied his father on many research expeditions into many forest and desert areas in the Southwest.
Gilbert spent his early years in the Tucson area and then went to England for the equivalent of a high school education. In England he was caught by World War I and it was not until 1919 that he was able to return to the United States and take up his studies at the University of Arizona here at Tucson. It was there that Gilbert started summer employment with the U. S. Forest Service as a lookout on Bigelow Mountain in the Catalinas.
Gilbert, what were the circumstances relating to your first going into the Forest Service?
We went around as soon as I got back from overseas went around to the Forest office because my Dad, due to his work at the Laboratory, knew the Forest Supervisor, etc., here in the office. We hit him up for summer jobs for my brother and me. We were sent to the Catalinas; I went on as lookout and my brother went on as fire guard near the summit.
What was the access to the Catalinas at that time?
Everything went up the old Sabino trail. Everything was packed up on a string of burros by the Maggie Pack train. All the supplies, all the furniture, everything up the mountain. There were some cabins up there then: not many. Groceries, everything, went up by pack train. They charged two and a half cents a pound for packing things up.
Were there any recreational facilities for the public at that time?
Well, there really wasn't anything there at all. There were no improved campgrounds. Three or four years later they started a little layout just above Soldier Camp. They called it the campground. It was about half way up the hill, just above the old Soldier Camp Ranger Station. There were a few cabins. They finally piped water down from Bear Wallow and that was the first recreational area laid out in the mountains.
What was your communications system at that time?
We had a telephone line up the mountain, put up through the canyon. It went down the east side of the mountain, down to Brush corral, all the way across the valley to the Italian Ranch and up on the Rincons from there, down the south side of the Rincons to the Rincon Ranger Station, on into Vail and back to Tucson along the railroad tracks.
Did you get in on any of the telephone installation work?
Yes, I worked a lot on that line; in fact, I worked the whole loop from Tucson out along the railroad tracks up over the Rincons and down across the valley and all the way around up on the Catalinas.
What was the fire situation in that period? Did you have many?
Well, the old wooden lookout tower on Mt. Lemmon and the wooden tower on Bigelow were the two lookout points. We had lines running up to each tower and they worked some of the time. There was an old mine set; a heavy cast iron ground box nailed onto a tree down below. There wasn't any phone in the tower itself. When the phone rang, which it rarely did, you would go down the tower and get to it sometimes.
But we also had heliographs. There was one on Mt. Lemmon and one on Bigelow; one on the Santa Ritas, and one on the Rincons, and theoretically we could talk on these. When I was up there none of the other boys happened to know the Morse Code. I was familiar with it, having been in the wireless service during the War. I could use the Code, but the other boys couldn't, but at least they could flash and let each other know they were on the job.
Gilbert, what were some of the early programs of work that were going on at that time? What, mainly, were the Forest Service jobs?
It was mainly protection jobs.
There was some timber operations going on. There was an operating sawmill at Summerhaven at that time. Nearly all the lumber was used on the mountain and it was, of course, cut out up there. It was too expensive to pack anything in on the trail. They would fell the trees and sometimes cut them up the same day they went down, and built them into cabins the next day. About a week after that they began to split.
The sawmill was at Summerhaven. Old Jim Westfall, who was one of the early Rangers up there, after he retired he set up the mill at Summerhaven. He hauled the boiler up as far as the road went up on the north side which was fairly close to the Stratton Mines. There was an old trail that you could get up that far on and he docked the boiler up the last six or seven miles up the side of the mountain. Some days he would make a couple of hundred yards and the next day they might roll back three hundred, but he finally got the boiler up there and got the mill running.
Otherwise, there was a very small crew up there; there were the two lookouts and the Ranger and usually about two fire guards and three trail men. That was the total personnel on the mountain.
Where did the Rangers stay up there? Where was the main headquarters?
The headquarters was at Soldiers Camp. The Ranger Station was built there in about 1913, the first house was put up and we used to camp up there in tents before that. Then there was a corral and so on and the barn was built later. The Rangers would stay at Oracle during the wintertime and come up on the mountain about three or four months during the summer.
Gilbert, you mentioned Jim Westfall as being the first Ranger there. Do you remember when he came and how long he stayed?
He came I know he was up there in 1908. He built the wooden tower on Mt. Lemmon in 1913 and it had the date carved on it, his name and date. I worked with Jim at the old sawmill at Soldiers Camp there at Summerhaven on patented land.
Was he the one you worked for in 1919?
No, that was Elmer Staggs. There were two or three Rangers between Jim Westfall and Staggs. One was Zachau and the name of the other I just forget. Staggs went on there in about 1917 and he was on from 1917 until 1919. He quit in 1920.
What were the qualifications for Rangers at that period?
Well, the exam was written and a good deal of it was how to look after a pack animal; also the load they carried and how far you could expect them to make in a day with a certain load, and so forth. Then, of course, there were questions on conservation and, oh, a little mapping and so forth. They got a little more involved as each year went on. I took it in 1922 and it was a fairly comprehensive exam then. There wasn't too much botany in it. There were a few questions on Silviculture.
Do you recall any specific cases that took place on the Catalinas during this period that might have altered the course of events somewhat?
Well, in 1920 or thereabouts, there was a good deal of pressure being brought to bear to actually finish a road up on the mountain. The Forest Service and interested parties in Tucson finally got the Bureau of Public Roads to allot some money and get on the job. The road was actually started in '21 up the mountain there. It just topped out at Summerhaven and it wasn't too good, but it was passable.
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From the Use Book, 1906. Bridges should be built only where fording is impracticable, but when they are necessary should be strong enough and placed so far above extreme high water that there will be no danger of their being washed out.
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Tell us, Gilbert, what we now know as Summerhaven was an early timber homestead, what was the situation here at that time? Was there anyone living on this Summerhaven homestead?
Well, that was taken up by Weber. I believe in about 1906 or '07. He actually filed on the thing and proved it up several years later. I think there was 160 acres in that homestead. The old Weber cabin was down, oh, about where Carter Canyon comes into Sabino, along about there. It has disappeared now I am quite sure.
It was a block of patented land the Forest Service took they had the area around it. There was a land boom up there and they tried to peddle the lots in about the middle of the twenties in fact they did sell quite a number of them. What would be called the early cabins at Summerhaven were built at that time. The lumber for those was cut out of the mill at Summerhaven that I spoke of previously. There was quite a bit of activity. We would get the trees as near as we could because they were dragged in by mule team into the mill.
What were some of the early ranger management problems and practices that were invoked at this time?
Well, a lot of it was recognized pretty well back at the beginning. The ranges would carry about so many head and not much more. There were a great many trespasses. Trespass cases started in pretty well at the beginning. Nearly every cattleman in the country would trespass more or less, before they actually believed that the Forest Service was going to allow about so much grazing on each unit.
Was it fenced at that time?
There wasn't a great deal of fencing. The exterior boundaries were more or less fenced as well as they could except for natural barriers, that was the first piece of fencing. Then some of the major fences were put in along topographical natural divisions. A good many of the allotments were oh, there were quite a number in each big allotment before they began to break it up into smaller units. As the smaller units were developed, the management began to get a little better, individually figured on the smaller units.
The Santa Rita Experimental Range was set up in this area for the southwestern desert area. Did this figure in any way in your range management practices? Did they contribute anything to your management plans?
Well, yes, because I think it was the first experimental range of its type set up in the United States, the Santa Rita Range Reserve. They had it staffed with as good range men as they had and they gave advice and so forth to the operating personnel on the Coronado Forest who followed right down the line on their recommendations, pretty much.
You said you started in 1919 as a temporary fire guard; you worked temporarily then for how long?
I worked two summers as lookout on Bigelow and the next summer I worked with the Forest Service as fire guard at Soldiers Camp. Then I ran a bunch of experiments with the Desert Laboratories, graphs and soil temperature experiments on the Catalinas, conducting evaporation experiments all that summer. Then I went up on the Coconino in 1923. I resigned from there and went back to the university in the Fall of '23.
In 1933 I went up on the Catalina in charge of the District there. I was there, oh, two and a half years or so.
I went down on the Douglas District in 1935. On that District some of the first aerial dropping was tried out. Fred Winn was Supervisor. An old time flyer named Charles Mayes, whom I learned to fly with about that time, did some dropping at Barfoot Park.
Fred Winn had a photographer from Bisbee come up to take photographs of these drops and he got some dandy shots. He nearly got hit by one of the drops of canned goods. When he got back to Bisbee he found that he had forgot to take the lens cap off the camera so that he didn't get any photographs but we did get some drop experience.
Gilbert, what problems did you run into in getting provisions up on these mountain areas that you worked on before the roads were built?
Well, at the beginning of the season, of course, we packed up a pretty good bunch of chuck for the forest crew up there and also some emergency fire-fighting stuff. It lasted us through a medium-sized fire but if it got bigger than that we had to start a pack train up the mountain with supplementary supplies. To get our meat supply up there in those days we well, there were lots of wild cattle running over both the Catalina and the Rincon. For a fire of any size someone was designated to go out and kill a beef. We would butcher it and feed it out to the fire crew and get the brand, if there happened to be any brand on it, and very often there wasn't, it would just be a maverick. Then we would try to run down the ownership and send whoever happened to own the thing a check for it.
Was this a common practice at this time, accepted by the stockmen?
Well, they figured the Forest Service needed some meat on these fires, and they were willing to help as much as they could, the stockmen, and cowpunchers that happened to be around. This was a regular thing if you needed a beef, you would go out and shoot one or rope it and hit it with an ax or anything that was handy and then butcher it out and then send them a check when you got through.
Who were some of the early ranchers in that area you might have dealt with?
Oh, there was quite a number of them, the Parkers came in there about '21 or '22, and Jim Converse happened to be one. I remember when Jim took over his ranch there on Tanque Verde, on the Rincon. There were so many wild cattle up on the mountain, the first job he actually did was to try to gather them in. He found more wild cattle on the mountain than his permits called for.
There was another rancher out at the foot of Sabino, old Charley DeGaulle. He was quite a character. He said, "Oh, I wouldn't lend a Forest Service guy anything. I wouldn't lend him a horse; to heck with him." I think he had been trespassed a little while before and he was still a little mad over it.
Gilbert, you went from the Catalinas to the Chiricahuas to the Huachucas and finally started your tenure on the Nogales District in 1939.
Well, the Forest Service was more or less in the doghouse then. There had been a little bit of trouble with my predecessor there for a short time and he had let things go a little. He had been a real good man, but John Barleycorn had crept in on him a little and he wasn't he had let things slip a little. He was there for 17 years as District Ranger and I followed and I was there for 23 years; that makes two men on this District that covered a span of 40 years. I think that's a pretty long time.
Gilbert, do you want to tell me about the use of airplanes in the early days?
Yes, we had a big fire in the Catalinas, back in 1921, that was nearly 10,000 acres. It came up out of the Canyon del Oro and topped out along the ridge to Summerhaven and right up to the top of Mount Lemmon and out on the San Diego Ridge. They had just completed the new road, the Bureau of Public Roads had just completed a new road up the side of the mountain and we used that. Some of the fire lines stopped going around the mountain north and east and it made a pretty good line. It spilled over in a few places but that held it in the real dangerous, deep canyons there on that side.
Hugh Calkins was then our Forest Supervisor on the Coronado in Tucson. He managed to get an Army plane from El Paso, from Fort Bliss, to do some scouting. I think it was one of the first times a plane had been used for aerial work on a fire, at least down in this area.
Hugh made several flights over the fire. McKenzie was up on the fire and Frank Grubb, they were both Deputy Supervisors on the Coronado at the time. We had quite a crew of men up there. Hugh said he got a lot of good information from this aerial scouting but the pilot flew pretty high. I guess it was one of his first attempts at flying over a fire and these were pretty deep canyons and the timbered slopes made a lot of turbulent air so I guess he was a little bit leery of getting down too low. He was up at least 1,000 or 1,500 feet above most of the big burn.
What was the situation there when you arrived?
We started probably one of the first attempts at parachute dropping of supplies. It was in about 1936 this was done on the Chiricahuas. I was Ranger at Portal at the time. Charlie Mayes was an old pilot that had flown everything since about 1912. I learned to fly from him, by the way, about 1925 or 1926. Fred Winn got him to make some test flights and test drops down at Douglas. He was running a little old field in Douglas at that time, out east of town. We made several drops, test drops, and decided we were pretty good. Fred Winn got the bunch up at Rustler Park to try some dropping up in the timber there at the top of the mountain.
Fred took a friend of his on show-me trips oh, about once a month, on the Chiricahuas. That was one of Fred's favorite retreats to get away from it all on weekends. They would stay up at Cima Park, there in the old cabin. They would take two or three horses up and they would spend the weekend, he and Mrs. Winn and Johnny Ball, from Bisbee. Johnny Ball was quite a photographer. Fred wanted this officially recorded, this dropping, so he could show the boys here and there, and maybe back in Albuquerque, how good it was.
Charley Mayes came over about the scheduled time and made some nice drops. We had just got some new radios at the time and we dropped one of those to see how it came down. It came down in good shape and we dropped a case of eggs and it came down and only a few of them broke. Johnny Ball was busily photographing each drop as it came down. One almost hit him, he was so enthusiastic, it plunked right down beside him. When he got all through Fred came over and said, "Well, John, did you get some good shots of that?" and John said, "I believe so," and he started to put his camera away and he said. "Oh, my God; look I forgot to take the cap off my lens."
So all these drops were duds, all these photographs. We didn't try it again that time. The next year we made several drops down around the Santa Rita Range Reserve trying the various size loads. The pilot and some of the boys got together and when he had made about his last drop, all of a sudden a man came out of the plane and he fell and fell and fell and his 'chute didn't open and he plunked down about two or three hundred yards from the bunch. Everyone started running over there except two or three of us who happened to be in the know. It was a dummy they had thrown out but it gave them quite a thrill anyway.
Did you do any flying for the Forest Service?
No, I didn't do any flying for them. I would go up later on like all the rest of the boys but I didn't fly in a fire or anything. I had quit flying privately by then. I had had my own ship but I had quit several years before commercially.
Another thing that I managed to shape up when I was a Ranger down in the Nogales; I don't think the Forest Service got enough credit for the building of Pena Blanco Lake. I used to go down in that area hunting before oh, back in the early twenties. I had seen this nice dam site there. When I finally went down there as a Ranger in '39, I began boosting for a dam at Pena Blanco. Every year I sent in my annual report saying we ought to build a dam there.
It was too big for us to get away with as a stock development but we thought maybe we could promote something. It took three or four years talking the Game Department into even coming down and looking at it. At that time I think it was Fred Merkle who was head of the Game Department in Phoenix. He had retired from the Forest Service and he was interested in anything the Forest Service suggested. We got him down and he thought it was a darn good site. I got one or two of the fellows out of the office. Roger Morris finally came down and looked it over, he thought it was fine.
We promoted it for several years more and after about 15 years of prodding we finally got some money raised. Neilson Brown was Senator for Santa Cruz County and was head of the Appropriations Committee in Phoenix. He managed to funnel a little funds down there for more investigation and so forth.
The engineers from Phoenix came down finally and they decided they could build a concrete arch dam there. They had the geologists from the University come out and check the side walls and everything else and they decided it was okay except the west side wall; it had somewhat of a fracture down on the bottom there. Wilson, a geologist from the University, came out and he told us what to do. If we would go down so far, the crack in the rock would run out there and it should hit this other type of solid rock. He was quite right. We went down ten or twelve feet, excavated, and plugged it with concrete and filled it up. That was on the west side.
On the east side, the wall was considered fine. It was a vertical cliff there and it looked to be a real good solid cliff. We had to cut these key ways in each side of this arch dam for bearing, and when we started to open up the east wall, which was considered O.K., went in four or five feet and began to get into big holes. It opened up into big caverns in there and the further we went the worse it got. Finally the engineers turned it down, said it was impossible to get enough firm key way there on that side, so the project sort of subsided.
Then the dam engineer came down again and looked it over and after all the experts had left he wanted to know if I had time; he wanted to stay there and look some more at his own leisure. I said, "Sure, I could spend all the time he wanted," so he looked it over and decided he could build an earth dam there. There was some good clay in the side of the hill. He thought if he could get enough of that he could wrap this clay core around the cliff there and put the mass over it and build a dam, which he did do.
Actually he gained a little more lake. We had to come up a couple of hundred yards upstream above the original site. We gained 25 or 30 feet elevation so we increased the storage in the lake by that much. We finally got about 50 to 52 acres of lake for about $60,000, which wasn't a bad price at all a little over $1,000 per acre, actually fairly cheap in the long run.
Then the State Game Department tried to move in and they more or less assumed most of the ideas for building the dam. In fact, George Peterson, the Game Warden down there died just a year or so after it was finished. They've got a plaque on the wall giving him credit for being the first one that thought up the dam. He talked about it but he never pushed for it at all, but he's credited with the dam. It wasn't the State Game Department employees at all, it was the Forest Service that started the thing off and 17 or 18 years after we started, we got the dam built.
Actually it was your push that started it.
Well, I don't think it would have been built yet if we hadn't got it started. It made a beautiful little lake anyway; a nice recreational area there and a real good improvement. The fact is, there was a bill in the Legislature at the time by Tom Hathaway, who was Representative; he tried to name it after me but it wasn't the thing to name it after anyone. Anyway they decided to name it Pena Blanco Lake, which is the area it is in, Pena Blanco Canyon.
Gil, from all the time you lived down at Nogales, you must have had quite a little international relationship, with the foresters in Mexico.
Yes, we worked with them quite closely, they were a good bunch. The foresters there didn't have much to do. Up in Sonora they looked after wood cutting on some of the ranches and maybe some of the land deals.
Most of my relations were with the Mexican cattlemen on the forest boundary which, of course, was also the International Border, and they were, by and large, a fine bunch of fellows. Most of them would come up to the cattle shows here and buy good cattle and good bulls until the hoof and mouth trouble came along. Some of them let their herds go down hill in quality because they couldn't see any particular benefit in buying fancy cattle with the possibility of having a bunch of them maybe killed off if it became necessary. In fact quite a lot of cattle did get through the fence from time to time and the Aftosa boys, the inspectors, would have to shoot them and burn them. There wasn't any infection actually within well over a thousand miles of the Border, but they had to abide by the regulations. That didn't go towards making good relationships.
Those outfits on both sides of the line knew that these cattle were perfectly clean, actually; but they would have to shoot them. The last bunch got through about 17 head, along the Santa Cruz River there. The fence was down after a big rain washed out, and they caught a bunch just this side of the line and had to kill them. That was the last big bunch that came in at one time. After the hoof and mouth disease scare began to settle down, the Mexicans began to stock up with good grade cattle again, good stock, good quality, and now the herds are about up to where they were, good bulls and good heifers and so forth.
Are they comparable in quality to the ones on this side?
Yes, they are. Several of the ranchers there are pretty well fixed and they come up and spend just as much money for young bulls and so on as American ranchers.
We had a little fun along the Border at times. Some of the Mexican boys found out they could get a job on the fires, on the line, if they showed up at a critical time. Once in a while they would set fires on purpose there right against the fence across the line in heavy grass and we couldn't do anything much about it. I've seen a fellow just sit there and watch them and you knew perfectly well he had set the thing, just hoping it would get a little bigger and he would get a job.
Of course the cattlemen got onto that, some of them, and they would run them out because they would set fire to their range, too. We had a good many fires set on purpose right along the line. We had to get out on them pretty fast in that high grass country or they would spread and they didn't respect any barbed wire fence saying it was Mexico or the United States.
Did you get involved in trespass against any of those, or did you just have to leave it alone because it started in old Mexico?
Well, when it started in old Mexico we would do a little contact work with the ranches there. There was one fellow; he used to come over and steal a few cows on either side of the line. He would butcher them out and take the meat into Nogales and sell it to almost any of the markets there they weren't too particular where the meat came from.
There was one camp; they knew the man, and he used to camp about a quarter of a mile across the line right north of the Sierra Morena, a big hill just north of the line, One day we saw a fire down pretty close to the line, we couldn't tell until we got down there. I had a Mexican fellow along with me that had worked for me for years and years and he knew almost everyone on each side of the Border.
We went down to this fire that day and it was this fellow's camp that used to rustle a little beef. He had a camp fire built in a pretty bad place, and it was pretty lucky that we got there as quickly as we did because the wind had started to come up a little bit and in another few minutes it would have got away.
All he had was a battered-up old coffee pot, a little bit of flour, and a little coffee, and a little bit of curds and whey, and nothing else. We had a couple of emergency rations along. We broke these out and I told Manuel, in my very politest Spanish, to write a little note and tell him here was a little food for him; it looked like he needed some. The fire didn't look too good so we doused it and put it out.
I guess he appreciated the grub. We didn't get another fire out of that area for a while. He was kind of a tough actor and all the cattlemen were always chasing him out and once in a while they would get him arrested in Nogales.
Another time, we were riding along close to the line; one of the permittees was over the fence about 75 feet perhaps. There was a nice big mesquite tree there and there was a very dead Yaqui strung up to it on some barbed wire they had cut out of the fence. Well, it wasn't any of our business to go inquire there along the line. It was someone else's business, and of course it was in Mexico.
But there happened to be a fellow doing some dry washing near this fellow's ranch, he was trying to run a new dry wash machine which of course didn't work. He had a friend down with him that weekend who worked on one of the Tucson papers. He just tried his best to get some dope to write up this story about this dead Yaqui. Of course no-one knew anything. He had to go back to town with just the information that there was a dead Yaqui strung up to a mesquite tree but that was all he could get. So that was that.
Did you ever get the story?
I knew whose ranch it was on but I never did find out what deed he had committed. I found out where he had been causing trouble. I knew the rancher well across the line. He probably didn't order the hanging but someone was mad enough to see that it was done.
Being so close to the Border there, with two different nationalities involved, you had quite a few incidents, didn't you?
The cattlemen down there on both sides of the Border always got along very well. When a stray got through in either direction, they'd either send one of the boys up, or send word up, or maybe meet in Nogales and tell the other rancher. They'd meet at the fence there at such-and-such a time. One of the vaqueros would bring it up and turn it over to the American cattleman, cowpuncher, or whoever happened to be down there.
The Mexico vaquero or cowboy down there is equal to the cowboy on this side, isn't he?
Yes. Of course a lot of that is real rough country down there, it's mountainous. The area from Nogales through to Sasabe, particularly along the California Gulch and Sycamore Canyon is probably the roughest piece of the Border that I know of; certainly from the New Mexico line through to the Colorado River. That one little stretch in there is real rough country. In fact, there are two or three areas in there where there is no International fence; it is almost impossible to build a fence on the line. It is just 'cliffed' up, and is really rough. They have to be pretty good cowpunchers to work in that country, real mountain cowboys. In order to make the cattle move the way you want them to and where you want 'em to, you have to be pretty well mounted.
They run mountain cattle in some of those areas. These old flat-footed cattle just can't make out over there, but there is wonderful feed in there. It is one of the best grazing districts probably in the Region, and those mountain cattle really do well. They get over the country pretty well, and of course there is lots of water. It is surprising the amount of water there is in the Tumacacori Mountains. Being as small a range as they are, particularly in elevation, there is lots of water and quite a lot of tanking. A lot of those Mexican ranchers have gone into tanking; and even have quite a few concrete structures. They have packed cement and stuff away back up in there and built little dams.
How about the range on our side is it pretty well watered, too?
Yes; one of the main things down there in that rough country is to get a lot of water scattered around. The cattle won't top out over some of those high ridges. They need water in the area they are in. They are concentrating on lots of stock water all through the country there. We have got fine cooperation from the ranchers. A lot of them stood all the expense themselves on a lot of the tanking, and sometimes matched dollar for dollar later on. In some areas it is too rough to get any bulldozers in. They pack in often times 30 or 40 sacks of cement and impound and make nice little places in a good dam site.
A lot of the International fence there, the Forest Service has kept it up along the Border, although it really should be the job of the Border Commission. It is really their fence, but for years and years when it went out in floods or needed repairs we'd supply quite a lot of steel posts that gradually got worked in there over the old mesquite and juniper posts. We'd supply the posts to the American permittee and he'd usually get them down to the line, the posts and the wire, and the Mexican cattlemen on the other side, where labor was real cheap, would usually send up a crew to do the fencing, with a sort of supervision from the Forest Service and the ranchers. We'd get a lot of International fence repaired and rebuilt in that way. That cooperation worked out pretty well, and we got a pretty cheap job out of it.
Packing the stuff in there amounted to quite a chore along some of that area. They'd run a bunch of pack mules in there and spot the stuff. The Mexicans would come up and camp pretty close to the job and usually didn't need too much fancy camp equipment to set up business across the line. They could get along with a little coffee and beans and tortillas, and a little piece of meat now and then. That's all they needed, and the job went on. There were some pretty good fence builders, too. We got some good jobs done.
Well, Gil, what about the erosion situation in that country? Have we, the Forest Service, met its responsibilities in the way of conservation?
Yeah, down in the Nogales District, formerly called the Tumacacori District, there has been very little erosion. The country has lots of rocks in it and there is lots of cover there, tremendous growth. That strip from Sasabe to, say, Douglas, right parallel with the line and maybe not going over 30 to 35 miles north, the high rainfall comes in the summer months, just when you need it. About 60 percent of the rainfall hits in the summer time in that strip, and about 40 percent in the winter. So we get a big growth during the growing season because of extra moisture. There is lots of cover except in a few little isolated areas. There is a remarkably small amount of erosion just a few little patches, because the cover is so good. We have managed to keep grazing load down about to where it belongs, by and large.
While I was down there and I think the boys that followed me have done the same I had excellent cooperation from the stockmen on the stocking. I've had several of the cattlemen time and again come around and say, "Hey, you know this season looks kind of tough. I took a hundred off the other day. To Heck with it; I'm gonna lighten up." They'd voluntarily do that: they played ball with us fine. When you get that sort of cooperation, you don't have to go after too many range transects or anything else if they are willing to realize their responsibilities and try and stock pretty much accordingly.
Of course, once in a while we decided they ought to go out with some more, and usually they weren't a bit afraid of non-use. We assured them that we'd play ball with them. If they took non-use, when the season came back they could come back no "ifs" or "ands" about it. No fear of getting a cut on the permit for non-use when it was for protection of the range. It worked out fine.
When I got through at Nogales I think it was one of the few times maybe when the permittees got together all by themselves and threw a party for us, for the retiring District Ranger, and I think it was 100 percent participation. Two members couldn't come, one because of illness, and one for some other good reason, but every other permittee on the District and their wives, et cetera, showed up at this farewell party. We thought it was a wonderful gesture. They gave me a camera and projector and what-not, and gave me a life membership in the Cattlegrowers the San Pinal, which now is the Southern Arizona Cattlegrowers Protective Association, I think they call it.
We had some real good friends and we had wonderful cooperation from the boys there. I think they were one of the finest groups I ever worked with, along the International line. We just have a real good bunch of ranchers down there. Most of them seemed to feel that the Forest Service policies were just about all right; that we weren't trying to beat them out of anything, we were all trying to grow as many pounds of beef as the country would support and still do O.K., and they realized that.
I've had the finest fire-fighting volunteer crews down in that District. Time and time again a smoke would pop and I'd get over to it. Some times it would take me an hour or a couple of hours to get across the District, and invariably there would be a bunch of ranchers down there on the fire. I had the best darned fire fighters. I had ranchers and cowboys, and they were really good. Of course I had fire boxes spotted around at strategic places. I think only twice in the 23 years I was on the Nogales did I call for help from Tucson. A couple of big fires got away from us in a high wind and we had to get some help in there.
We could never use the Federal prisoners down there because it was too close to the Border, the immigration people didn't want them down there, afraid some of them would not respect the fence. So it was always local crews that we used except on those two occasions.
The ranchers all worked fine. If they needed to stay, they stayed, day after day it didn't matter. And it didn't matter whether it was on their own range or on a neighbor's, if they'd see a fire over on a neighbor's place, away they'd go. Sometimes the neighbor wouldn't be there and the other ranchers would put his fire out, or get it under control. In that heavy grass stand it sure meant a lot because you have to get down under the pumps quick. You can't stall around.
Gil, you mentioned this fire swatter.
Well, the fire swatter is the tool for that heavy grass country. You can't dig a line with just anything; you can't make a line in there fast enough. You have to fight the fire right on the line make your line out of your dead fire line. The swatter is the thing to do that with.
The first ones I used down in this part of the country, when we really became acquainted with them, we soon found that they were the implement all right, only they had a bad mechanical weakness. In that area where there's lots of high grass, dense grass, and lots of rock down in it that you can't see, in swatting a line you really have to hit pretty hard.
Lots of times you'd break the swatter where this piece of belting is attached to the piece of half round on each side of it; it was riveted through this half-round and the shank ran up into the handle. The breakage was enormous. There wasn't enough metal on each side of the rivet hole. It was only maybe an eighth of an inch each side of the rivet hole, and pretty soon it was worthless, nothing but a stick that you couldn't swat with. The piece of belting would maybe be attached to one or two rivets and would flap around, and you couldn't do anything with it.
I wrote a little article in the Fire Notes when Frank Grubb was Supervisor and he picked up this article. He'd used swatters and thought it was a good idea that I had written this little item about what a fine tool the swatter was in grass fires, except for this mechanical weakness. The Western Fire Tool people, one of the big manufacturers, wrote to me and wanted to know what recommendation I might have for improving it. So it drew up what I thought it should be, in fact we made up one, a sample in the shop at the Station just for the fun of it, to see if it worked and it did. It was sort of a crude model, and I sent them a little drawing.
They changed the design; all the swatters nowadays are of the new design. Instead of being two pieces of half-round there is a good strap iron there of pretty good steel, with the rivets through it the same, but there is lots of metal on each side of it. The strap is three quarters of an inch wide, and there is no breakage in it at all. I never have managed to get a breakage through the rivet holes since they changed the design. It saved the old Forest Service buying lots of swatters. Now they are good until they actually get burned out, but that takes a darned lot of fighting fires before that happens and they have to throw them away.
That was a swatter made of belting?
Yes, a belt; a heavy belt. And they increased the size of the belt a little bit. I recommended that. The first one was about twelve inches long; they later made them about fifteen or sixteen inches. It gave them that much more swatting area. If you can get five or six good swatter men you can go along the line pretty fast and your dead fire line is the line you have to work from. Your don't have to do any digging. It is impossible to dig some of that heavy stand of grass out fast enough to stop a fire. It will get ahead of you. On most areas you just drop back and let it burn out a hot spot, or you can backfire so easily with a swatter. On the control you can make a nice fast line to catch the fire with. The swatter is really the tool, I think, in the high-grass country.
In fact, in the aerial tanker work I've seen a good deal of it down in the grass country lots of times they would lay down a line and there would be a little bit of wind blowing and the fire would come around the end of the sprayed line in just a few minutes. In some areas it is pretty good; in other areas the aerial work is not very effective on some of that grass country. The fire moves too fast if you have any wind and you've got a real explosive condition.
I've seen fires there travel a mile in less than ten minutes on the wind, just get up and really go. We had a 7,000 or 8,000 acre fire along the north end of the range about ten years ago that topped out on the mesa there, and that thing made a run of at least a mile in 10 minutes. The wind had built up and it just fanned across the whole country there.
Are the fires really damaging down here?
Not too much, no. Of course you do get some in the hunting season in the fall. That country will burn almost any time when it isn't wet. It doesn't spread nearly as fast in the fall. But once in a while a fellow loses quite a lot of his range and he won't get any more until the growing season comes along in the spring. Sometimes he gets pasture that is pretty well burned out through carelessness in the fall. In the summer time the rains will be along usually in two or three weeks, or maybe a month. He may lose some country for a while.
We had one hot fire there and for three years the range suffered from it pretty badly. You could see a big difference there. It was away below its carrying capacity for about three seasons. We finally got a real good season and it bounced back. Sometimes there is a fair amount of kill on the grass. It gets so darned hot in those big clumps it will actually make a kill on the stands. But when it fans over, it usually doesn't do too much damage. Of course you may lose a bunch of fences or what have you.
Gil, you didn't have much in the way of commercial timber sales did you?
No, there wasn't any commercial timber sale. During the war we sold walnut burl. Just before the war, and at the beginning of the war, there was quite a demand for that. We had some of it scattered around, usually when a tree goes to burl, it is just about shot. The local walnut down there is just about gone but the burl is still pretty good. There was quite a little bit of activity in that for a while.
The last shipment we sold there, the boat got torpedoed. That shipment, I think, was going to France. Some went to France and some went to Italy. The boat got torpedoed. That burl would barely float in water. I think some of those burls are still bobbing around in the Atlantic. They never did get to their destination.
How do you sell burls?
We sold them by the pound. We even sold some plants to make tequila out of for awhile. They had a tequila plant in Nogales; it closed down but they shipped some across the line for awhile. That was sold by the ton.
During the war we sold some bear grass to make brooms. Some gentleman from Israel came in there and set up a little broom factory at Nogales and he used some of this bear grass to make brooms. It made horrible brooms. He got a contract from the Navy and supplied them with some of these brooms. I don't think the decks were swept very clean with them because they didn't stand up too well, but he wangled this contract some way.
We used to have quite a lot of cordwood business there until natural gas came into Nogales. That did away with quite a lot of it, but they use wood, a lot of it still, across the line. This side of the line, most people use gas now.
That oak down there is wonderful cordwood and of course it's a lot better than mesquite. There was quite a lot of activity for awhile. They even had a walnut sale down there too. I mean they were making furniture out of some of the walnut. They had a little mill set up two or three months. The boys had a lot of contracts with some furniture factory on the Coast. They cut out the walnut and supplied one bunch there and that was it. They could use anything down to about two-foot lengths for chair rungs and what have you. Some of the boards they cut out seven, eight, or ten feet long. It was not too high class walnut but I guess they sold a little of it anyway.
In the early days I understand there were mines in this country, all through here. What did they use for stulls?
Well, they used some mesquite, quite a lot of mesquite. They used to go over on the Santa Rita Mountains and get out most of their mining stock from the western slopes and the southern slopes. Otherwise they used mesquite, but mainly they would get this timber out of the Santa Ritas and of course around the Catalinas and the Rincons for mining up there.
There were worlds and worlds of mining property all through the Tumacacori Range, west of Nogales and within a few miles of the border. There were worlds and worlds of old properties that were worked back in the '80s and the '90s and the early turn of the century there was a tremendous amount of old machinery that was hauled in there by wagon and mule team. Of course there weren't any trucks then, but trucks couldn't have got in over the roads they had then anyway.
There is a surprising amount of old properties that were worked at the time, some of them worth thousands and some of them glory holes. There was lots of mining activity around the close of the century and maybe up to 1910 or '12 or '15, all through that country. The Eagle Mine was in at Ruby, mining lead and zinc. It was the biggest, one of the largest lead and zinc mines in the country, mainly working the Ruby property. When I was down in the Nogales District they had well over a thousand people encamped at Ruby and about 350 or 400 miners working there. The Eagle people probably took out seven or eight million dollars worth of values there.
They finally worked the mine out about the beginning of the war: about 1941, '42 I think it closed down. They had to pipe the water all the way from the Santa Cruz River, just a little south of the Tumacacori Mission, in a four-inch pipeline about eighteen miles long, then went off through the mountains to supply Ruby. They impounded it in two lakes they built there and in case of pump breakage or anything wrong, they had a supplementary supply. They worked the mill there all the time from the pipeline from the Santa Cruz River. It had over 900-pounds pressure to pump this water over the mountains; it lay on top of the mesas and in the canyons, all uncovered line, but extremely heavy pipe. It had big "S-curves" in it along the mesa top there because of the expansions and contractions so much in the summertime they couldn't hook the pipes without these twists in it which could expand and contract, it would have pulled the joints on it.
Some of that pipe line is still there. One of the ranchers bought the last six miles in the rough country that they couldn't salvage. He used it to turn a windmill in one end of it and has a series of stock watering troughs along this six-mile line, has three of them there. It makes a good supply line. It freezes once in a while and a foreman or a cowboy will go in with a portable torch on muleback and weld up the line. It is too heavy to do anything with pipe tools so they just weld it up, put a patch on it. They pack it in with a mule, and it's pretty rough packing: it goes through Hell's Gate Canyon which is a pretty rough canyon.
The Army used to come over there when they still had the cavalry post at Huachuca, the Tenth Cavalry, the Eighth and the Tenth, I guess, or the Ninth and Tenth. It was a colored regiment.
One of the ranchers was riding up Peck Canyon one day, that was his area in there, his allotment. He heard an enormous racket up the canyon with a lot of yowling and bellowing and fellows making a noise. He rode up this canyon and in one place there was a drop-off there, a little water hole thing, it drops down about twelve feet to the level of the canyon. It continues beyond this waterfall and there is a big sand pocket below a little pool of water there.
There were this bunch of colored troops hazing their pack mules and horses off this jump-off there, making these animals make this twelve-foot jump. They had jumped five or six of them off when old John Cummings came along and he said, "My God, what are you fellows trying to do, break these animals' legs?" "No," said one of them. "The trail comes along this canyon and the captain said. 'That's where it is,' and said 'Follow through; put them over.'" And John said, "You just better come with me and I'll show you a trail right above here".
They went up a little rough rocks up around there where they had missed the trail. He said he wondered why they didn't break the legs of two or three of these animals they had jumped off. That's where the pipeline went through. It was tied up to the side of a cliff there with some cable.
You had quite a few mining patents down in there.
Well, there were quite a few patented claims, and an awful bunch of unpatented claims quite a few patents, not too many, compared to the number that were in there. Of course with the uranium scare the mountains were just alive with wild-eyed weekend prospectors. They would argue and squabble over their claims and want you to referee their battles.
Then the Tumacacori Mission Treasure down there was another thing we had lots of fun with. Right to this day there are two or three fellows out there hunting for the treasure. They have dug in numerous places. I had a regular treasure hunting clientele all the time.
One old chap there in the main canyon, Peck Canyon, he has been in there for about fourteen or fifteen years; he's out there right today. He's getting up in years, he's over seventy now. I guess he has moved 250 or 300 tons of rock by himself since he's been there. He's down in the bottom of one of these natural rock slides and he's decided the treasure is buried in under that. He decided the rocks were put there by man. Of course these natural rock slides are in numerous places all through the mountains there and you see them in lots of other places.
If a rock is too big for him to load into his little ore car and wheel to the edge of the bank and dump over the hillside down into the canyon, he drills and shoots it. He shot several times when the ranchers would be riding down below. All of a sudden a blast would go and a shower of rocks, and it took years to train him to yell "fire" before he shoots.
Four or five of those rock slides I know they have been digging in. They file a mining claim and will get just enough color sometimes to hold their mining claim. You know there is mineral pretty well all through the country there of one sort or another. They can get away with a mining claim when actually they are treasure hunting. After they get to know you they will break down and tell you, "Well, I'm doing some mining there, yes, but I think we might find something else also".
That's the treasure from the old Tumacacori ruins?
Yes. Of course, I don't know that there ever was any, but they have the old story down in the records at Tumacacori. If you take the article and follow it out with a protractor and trace the lines out and bear west so many steps or yards or whatever they call for and then go east, you trace it out and you come back almost to the place you started from, following this yarn.
Some of them have spent thousands and thousands of dollars there. One old camp is up off the side canyon coming into Peck Canyon which is known as Peck now. It was Biscoskie for a while, but now is Peck Canyon: Mrs. Shipley operated there for several years. She got thousands of dollars put up by two or three profs from the University here and a doctor or two and others, and she was excavating there. She even had a machine gun set up at one time to guard this "valuable" treasure. Two of the fellows that were her bodyguards are still in Nogales; one is a contractor and the other got to be Deputy Sheriff in Nogales. She sold a lot of stock in this venture. There was just all sorts of digging there. In one place she had an inclined shaft.
One of the old ranchers there told me that one of the workers she had one time was a wetback from across the line. He was down in this precarious shaft digging for this treasure that was supposed to be down there and it caved in on him and killed him very dead. While no-one knew particularly that he was a wetback from across the line, there was no better place to bury him so he is still down in the shaft, just where he was. It caved in and that's that. We called that Camp Loco.
She hired a pack horse from this rancher, for several seasons; he rented her a kind of an old sway-backed horse that wasn't much good for anything else. She would tell prospective bait that he had got sway-backed from carrying out silver bars. Finally she got hold of some stationery of the Treasurer of the United States and faked some correspondence on that I don't know just what "your shipment of bullion had been received and the approximate valuation was so much and the exact valuation would be sent to her shortly". She passed this around and they picked her up on that charge doing things she shouldn't have done. They sent her up but she came back after a while and went to operating again. She finally moved over to the Coast and committed suicide. That was the end of that. She was quite a gal.
It is very interesting country, wonderful one of the best Districts in Region 3. It is a good grazing district, good permittees and good users. You don't have to wallow around in the snow half the winter, you can get out and get some work done.
Mr. Oscar McClure, born in Missouri, came to Arizona in 1910. He attended grammar school and high school at Glendale. When his father homesteaded near Flagstaff in 1917, Oscar became acquainted with the Forest Service. In an interview at his house in Cottonwood. Oscar tells of some of his experiences:
I was in the Service early enough to know Gifford Pinchot. One time he and Paul G. Redington who, I think, was Regional Forester, and somebody else, were on a tour through the country. They were checking in at different places. They were on the Coconino for a day or two, something like that, I think Will C. Barnes was with them, and I got to meet Gifford Pinchot then. One time at Rogers Lake, Colonel Graves was out there. And of course from then on, let's see, there was a Stuart, Clapp, Silcox, Lyle Watts, and McArdle, and I guess Cliff now.
I'm pretty much out of touch with a lot of things. Occasionally I go to a Foresters' meeting, but you don't get much to do with the grazing. That's one of the things I've been kind of interested in, these grazing conditions, especially juniper eradication over the Forests.
You know, it's hard for a Forest. Take a scientist in a laboratory and he can create exactly the conditions that he wants, but on a Forest you gotta take what you get and hope it works out. When you start making studies, there are so many things to contend with, that can have a bearing on things, that I'm surprised that you get anything of any consequence. They used to think, well, you start doing this cedar work, this juniper work: I wondered how many times we were going to have to prove the same thing. They'd keep wanting more and more on this juniper. It seemed to me like we were having to prove the same thing over and over and over again. On the other hand, I don't know whether we ever did prove it, or not. You have certain things that happen under certain conditions, and you can't have what you want all the time.
There's another little sidelight on my experience, or whatever you want to call it. I guess I was one of the first ones to actually train some Indian fire crews.
Where was that, Oscar?
At Flagstaff. I can't put the dates in here. But it was in the days before we started using them very much it was in the CC days. There was a fellow at Leupp, the Indian agency at Leupp, named Guy Sheets. He and I used to go to high school together down at Glendale. He wanted to train some Indian CC crews in fire fighting, and he came into my office to see me. We set a date and he brought in a couple of crews from Leupp and we set up, just like a fire camp out on 66, about ten or twelve miles, out of town, steel kitchen and everything. We spent two days building fire lines out there, in training. There was quite a bit on this one-lick method. The Indians took to that very readily. It had a fascination for them to see a fire line begin to shape up.
I don't know whether they used very many of that bunch; it wasn't until later on that we actually went into using Indians very heavy. But that was the first time that I knew of any Indian crews actually being given fire training.
We went out to Tuba City and Oraibi and put on fire training schools later on, Ed Groesbeck and some fellows from the Park Service. There were several places on the Navajo Reservation where they have a little fire danger, on the northeastern corner, and on Gray Mountain, out south of the Little Colorado River. They wanted to be sure and have a couple of crews anyway that had a little more modern techniques than the way they did it naturally. This particular training was more or less for protection of the Indian Reservation itself. They wanted it. And they would be available if we needed them, so I figured it was perfectly all right to spend this time in giving them this training.
But all my verbal instructions and so on had to be given to an interpreter and that's an eye-opener. I guess a fellow could have a thorough knowledge of the Navajo language, that is, know what each word means, but still he couldn't talk it. You've got to know how to put things together because there are so many things they don't have a word for, modern things.
Now, a Kortick tool, and stuff like that they didn't have any word for it. The fellow that was talking about the Kortick, he had to describe the tool to them, and I'd say one word and maybe he'd say twenty, to describe this particular tool. They had no word for distance, miles, well, that was a good many years ago, they may have coined a word by now. Of course, "money" is Spanish; they use Spanish mostly for money, or did. They use Spanish for a lot of the words, but it was quite a thing, if a fellow could have understood it, to listen to this interpreter tell them what I was saying, Where I'd say one word, it would take twenty for him to interpret. He'd have to describe something in terms of what they understood.
Well, Oscar, you've spent a lot of years in the forest, worked with a lot of different people, a lot of different supervisors: got out and camped around and all, you must have had quite a few amusing experiences.
Well, I've had a lot of them. Most of them are on me, and I don't tell 'em!
When we went to Beaver Creek, when we were first married, we had no bridges over those washes, and we had lots of high water, especially in the wintertime. Some of the time you'd have to swim those creeks. As I look back now, sometimes it gives me cold chills to think of some of the things we did then.
We used to have to cross Dry Beaver, Dry Creek, and Spring Creek, and some of those, when they were up. You'd get out and take the fan belt off, pack canvas all in around the motor to keep the distributor and the carburetor dry, even put an apron on over the front end of it, then drive across.
One night a fellow was on the south side of Beaver Creek and he kept callin' and callin' to me. I couldn't hear him but I made him understand to go back to the phone, and I'd go to the phone. He said he'd come out to the Beaver Creek Ranch to repair a generator and they'd got stuck in a wash up about half a mile north of the house. He had to leave the car in the wash and he'd left a young fellow in it, and he went across Beaver Creek to the ranch to get help. And about the time he got across Beaver Creek, the water came down and he couldn't get back. So he wanted to know if I'd go down and help the boy out of the car.
It was in January, snow melt, and that water was just as cold as ice. I went back to this Red Tank Wash and nobody was in the car! I hollered and screamed, and the boy answered me: he was on the other side of the creek. The car was right in the middle, hung up on a big rock. He was on the other side; he was between two creeks, and he couldn't get anyplace. He was wet and cold. You couldn't cross it in a car; the water was just aroarin'.
So I threw him a rope. He tied the rope around under his armpits. It was only about 50 feet across this wash. Then I tied my end of the rope to a bush. I was sure it wouldn't give 'way, it was too strong, just swayin' around. Then he jumped off into that cold water! And I pulled him hand-over-hand right to me. Well, I was scared, that is, you never know about those turbulent waters, how they are. You could hear boulders and everything, and we had to keep him on top of the water. He was a good swimmer, and he was anxious to get out of there.
We liked to have never got him warm. We wrapped him up in some Army blankets and took him down to the house where we had a big fire in the fireplace, and he just shook for hours. Oh, there were probably lots of incidents like that, but there's so many things you forget.
There was one kind of funny one, that has to do with Bob Monroe, and now that he's gone I can tell it. Maybe that isn't a nice thing to say, but we fellows were always playing tricks on each other. One time we were down on Secret Mountain. Went down to survey a fire and make an inspection. Coming back, our trail went down into Secret Canyon, with water brakes ever so far apart on the horseback trail. One of these was a small oak log that had about a two inch hollow in the middle of it. The yellow jackets had built a nest in there.
Well, if two fellows rode along there and they stayed right close together, they could get away from them. But if they were a little ways apart, why the fellow behind, he usually got nipped. The fellow that was with me was in a little bad humor with Bob that day, so he cut out around and went someplace else, before we got to this place, and I trotted up, and Bob hit 'em just right! There were about a dozen of them and they hit him and his horse mostly.
He had one of these little old McClellan saddles. He used to ride one of those little ones. He had a big horse that weighed 1,300, 1,400 pounds, and that horse squealed and took of, and Bob did too, but he stayed with him until he got him under control; didn't buck 'em off. But I never did tell him who did that; Bob would've killed him.
We were out on a horse hunt one time and we'd jumped, oh, maybe 50 head of horses in a bunch, to start with, and we'd follow and shoot, and follow and shoot until about night. I think there were about three horses left in the bunch, when we run onto 'em the last time. So I told Lloyd Wall if he'd go down the draw a little ways there was a pile of big high rocks, almost like a house. He could hide in behind them and then I'd get out and shoot one of the horses and the rest of them would come down by him and he could get the other two. So I did that; I just shot one and the others went out of sight down the draw.
I kept listenin' and listenin' for Lloyd to shoot he never did shoot. So I got my horse and went down there. The horses had gone by and were climbin' a hill half a mile away. I asked Lloyd, "Why didn't you shoot? They went right by you." He said, "I emptied my gun." I looked down and said, "You sure did." He had stood there and pumped out every shell on the ground; had not fired a shot! He had got excited and pumped out every shell: they were all layin' there on the ground.
I've heard about big game hunters doing stunts like that.
It was kind of surprising. Lloyd was always very slow and methodical about everything he does, or he used to be. It kind of surprised me that he would get excited, because there wasn't any reason to. It was just routine. We'd been doin' it all day long, or for several days we were out there about a week.
Another time, I got to take a bunch of stockmen out on a horse hunt. Bob and I went out. Bob Monroe, and we had these two fellows and they were kinds crampin' our style a little bit. So that night Bob came into town and got a couple more rifles. He gave them each a rifle.
We were supposed to catch a couple of horses that were out in this country; that was one of the reasons the stockmen had sent these two fellows with us. One of them was a mule, and we couldn't get him in, couldn't get him away. Finally one of these boys, he just started shootin' at the mule. When we got home that night, the mule was in the corral with the horses. You couldn't get him away from the saddle horses.
You had scared him.
Yes, he was smart: he stayed right with the horses. When we got back, the other horse we called him Badger and the stockmen asked this boy if we had seen Badger and he said, "I don't know, but if I did, I put two bullets right through him. I couldn't turn him, so I just shot him." He said, "You're a fine guy to send to watch somebody."
I used to meet a lot of fellows who used to come to these training schools at Fort Valley. I went there the first time in 1925. Then in '29, and I guess in '50, believe it was '50, I went from Drake and from '25 to '50 it's surprising the number of fellows that are gone. Of the fellows that were at the first training camp, in 1925, I remember Naylor, Harry Naylor, Ed Perry, and Jack Kleburn. Jack was from the Coronado. And another Ranger who lives down here at Cornville now Tom Bentley. And a little left-handed fellow from Timber; he was a scaler someplace. I forget names, but it' been nearly 30 years.
We used to play baseball there in the evening, after school. There was some fellow there from the Apache, I can't remember his name, but they were all gathered around and I was at bat and I swung at this ball just as hard as I could, and missed. The bat flew out of my hand. I looked around and there were three fellows down on the ground. My bat had hit them and two of 'em weren't hurt. It had hit one fellow on the wrist, and another fellow got a black eye, but this one fellow from the Apache, he was a young fellow, and the butt end of that bat hit him right straight between the eyes. Why it didn't kill him I don't know. But it didn't. He was addled for a little bit and we took him up and put some cold compresses on his head, and he was all right.
Years later, when I was over in New Mexico, one day I was in north of Grants and I run onto this fellow, and we stopped and talked. Whether he introduced himself or not I don't remember, but you know, when fellows meet out that way they stop and talk, and I kept lookin' at him and lookin' at him, and finally I said, "Aren't you the guy I knocked the tar out of with a baseball bat one time?" He said, "Well, somebody did!" And we had a big laugh out of it.
I don't know now how he happened to be up there at the school. He wasn't a Ranger. He was an Assistant Ranger, or something. I think he was from the Apache, but when I saw him this time I was tellin' you about he had a little outfit there by Grants. He was workin' for two brothers that lived there north of Grants, I can't remember those fellows' names.
I think it was in 1925 that a woman got lost up there. There was a little place between Flagstaff and Fort Valley they called Hidden Hollow, and there was a little ranch in there. She was in her fifties, or something like that. A good many years before, she had had a little child wander away and get lost, and when they found the child, she had perished. And the woman in later years every once in a while she'd get to grieving over this and if they didn't watch her, she'd get up she was a little bit off her rocker she'd start out hunting for this youngster. That was what had happened there at Fort Valley.
We hunted for two days, and the last day, about this time in the evening I guess, one of the trucks had come out and called everybody in, to get in to Fort Valley in time for supper. Earl Loveridge was Chief of Operations then, and it happened that another fellow and I were clear out at the end of the line and when they called us to come in to this truck, we didn't hear them. So that left us about four or five miles from Fort Valley, afoot, to walk in. This boy was from Georgia, or someplace down there, and he was quite superstitious. I can't remember his name, but he was later killed by lightning.
Oh, Dick Gault?
Yes, Dick Gault. He and I were together and we walked a little ways, then we'd sit down on a stump to rest, we were tired. I looked up and I saw this woman about a couple of hundred yards away. I told Dick, "There she is." We went over and she was just like a wild animal. Couldn't talk to her and her eyes were just as wild as could be and she'd run, then stumble and fall. So Dick says, "I'll never make it to camp if I have to hurry, so I'll stay here and see where she goes, keep her in sight anyway, and you go get help."
So I started back to Fort Valley and I had only gone about half a mile and met the boys comin' back lookin' for us. Her husband happened to be with them. Earl Loveridge and somebody else was in the car, and this woman's husband and son. I told them, "We have her down here or we did have her a little bit ago." We went back and saw Dick. He was 'way up high on a hillside, with a red handkerchief on a stick, and he kept wavin' that handkerchief until we located him.
She had crawled in under some logs and brush about 200 yards from where Dick was, and when we got to her she had fainted. So we fixed up a stretcher and carried her out. Her husband had a bottle of horse liniment that had a lot of alcohol in it so he gave her a little dose of that and it brought her around. But she still couldn't walk.
I know when I left, Dick had said to me, "Now you be sure and come back. Don't leave me out in these woods all night with this crazy woman." That was the only time I ever saw Dick Gault, when we were on that trip, but we got pretty well acquainted.
Mr. Roger Norris, an Iowa boy, was graduated in Forestry from Iowa State University. He first worked for the Forest Service on the Superior in Minnesota on range reconnaissance work. He came to District 3 in 1920, took the Junior Range Examiner examination, passed, and was appointed a "Grazing Assistant." Roger was interviewed in Tucson, Arizona. His story starts with his work in District 3.
Now, Roger, hat was your work as Range Examiner? What did that consist of?
Well, we were doing horseback surveys and we would just travel through the country on horseback and make notes on forage conditions, the kind of vegetation, herbage, topography, and anything else that would be pertinent to it. We entered our data on maps, two inch scale topographic maps where we had them. When we didn't have maps, we made them. We built it up that way. Then in the winter we would go into the Regional Office in Albuquerque and work up our data and work up allotment management plans for the Ranger Districts, in cooperation with the local men.
Did you have palatability tables?
To start with, no. To start with we had no palatability tables. We used a palatability figure which we got more or less out of thin air, as a matter of fact, according to the type of forage. If it was coarse grasses, you'd grade it down, and something else, you'd grade up. Those early figures proved to be way high as far as palatability was concerned. Of course that took into consideration nothing in the way of proper use. It was just strictly palatability figures, that's all it was. And we worked those out, of course, in forage-acre factors which I think have been carried through all the way down the line.
Do you remember the palatability figures we were using? I helped build up those palatability figures when we started in and went to that. That was one of our first progressive steps, the building of those palatability tables.
How in the world did you do that?
Well, it was based largely on different ones' experience. We'd argue it out and finally decide on what we thought was about correct for each species, and then we'd follow through on certain spot locations. We tested 'em to see how they worked out, and then gradually refined them until they got down to what they eventually came out to.
You refined them on a trial and error basis?
Yes, pretty much on a trial and error basis. They worked pretty well, but we had to make adjustments in 'em as we went along.
The big value of them was that we didn't figure that they were absolutely correct, but that they were consistent. When you found a discrepancy in them you could apply a correction factor instead of having to go back and cover each type, as we did originally. You could apply that correction factor and do it in the office after you found out what your correction factor was, because they were all consistent. That was their important value; they were consistent, you could vary them up or down in that way.
The big weakness in applying them was that they never reduced the stocking to what those figures said they should be?
We never got down to them in many cases; no, we never did. In some cases we did, I know.
But even in those cases where we did, it was long after they'd been made.
Yes, they were not applicable at the time. And your types would change in the meantime, too. I know when I started checking some of the old, original reconnaissance figures I think they were made about 1915 - '16, along in there somewhere some of the first ones were made over on the old Tusaysan, and I came out with quite a difference. Some of the areas they had originally typed as open grassland, I typed as woodland and some as pine. A lot of 'em weren't completely converted to pine, but there had been encroachment from the outside to where the open area was reduced.
Enough to change the type?
Yes. And that was in the late 1920s. You see there is a period of about fifteen years, and you could see considerable change in them in that period of time from what they were originally typed out as.
Roger, tell us a little bit about how you operated. You had camps with pack outfits, I guess?
Yes, we operated with pack outfits most of the time. When we started out on the Santa Fe our first camp, I remember, was in Santa Clara Cabin. We had a wagon and team and started out early in the year in Santa Clara Canyon and worked right up off the head of it and onto the Rio Grande. We worked all the country where that big installation is it isn't a missile site?
Yes, where Los Alamos is now. We were going up out of Los Alamos Canyon. Before we were able to top out, we had four horses hitched onto our wagon, and four other men pulling on it with saddle ropes in addition. Quite a climb steep and rough. We used a wagon all the rest of that summer, practically all the time we were on the Jemez Division.
We completed that and when we started out on the other side we then went to a pack train. We got a bunch of pack animals, mostly mules, from the Biological Survey. They had them somewhere down in South Texas. They were closing out the pack train and somehow or other our outfit got hold of them. We had all those pack mules and we had some pretty big crews there for a while. Fellows were coming on as trainees.
That one summer we had a big outfit there. There were Cassady and Jimmy Newton Jimmy was cooking and packing for us that year. Ben Rutherford was with us. He was kind of an assistant working around there. We had as high as ten or twelve saddle horses in addition to eight or ten pack mules. When we got strung out, we covered quite a bit of territory. Hollis Palmer was with us that summer. We completed part of the Jemez, then moved to the Borrego District of the Santa Fe and came right down the west side of the Santa Fe Forest, the Pecos Division.
When you worked a District, did the Ranger ever jump in and help you any, or was your crew self-sufficient?
The Ranger would of course we had several different Rangers some of 'em didn't pay much of any attention to us at all. Others would come in. John Johnson, the old Ranger on the Pecos, would make it a point, any time he was anywhere around, to hit the crew and talk to us.
When we were on the Carson we were on the old Vallecitos District, and the Ranger there I can't recall his name just off he later on transferred to the Las Vegas District he was a brother-in-law of Louie Cottam.
Yes, Max Bruhl was the Ranger there. Well, he didn't take too much interest in us.
We dropped down onto the Santa Fe, went down to the Coyote District, and Joe Rodriquez was Ranger there. Joe wasn't much interested. He didn't understand what we were trying to do. Of course, later on when I was assigned to the Santa Fe for a while, Joe began to take a little more interest. Then we moved on down to the old Cuba District, and Frank Harris was Ranger there. Frank was an old-time cowboy and he went right along with us; stayed with us a while. He didn't much savvy the deal. He didn't take much interest, but he helped us in a lot of ways. He was a good source of information and spent quite a bit of time with us.
We finished up that spring. From the old Bluebird Ranger Station we went right across the hill and back down Santa Clara Canyon into Espanola and up to the old Borrego Ranger Station and started in up there on the Pecos Division and stayed up there. Next fall we wound up down around Santa Fe, on the Santa Fe District. Walter Pinson was Ranger at Borrego when we were up there. Walter was quite inquisitive-minded. He came around a lot to see what was going on and try to find out anything he could. He was a pretty good kind of guy.
When we got farther down who the Devil was the Ranger at Granite Point? I can't remember him now. Anyway, he was there just that fall. I know the next spring they combined those two Districts, what they called the Santa Fe District, and the Borrego District, and moved Pinson down to the Granite Point Ranger Station. Of course John Johnson was over on the Pecos.
Oh, another thing that summer when we started in on the Santa Fe after we finished Joe Rodgriquez's District, the Coyote District, we went over to what they called I don't think they called it the Chains District then later on it was combined with the Coyote, to become the Chains District. A fellow by the name of Hatch was the Ranger there and he was just in the process of being relieved of his job. I know Rex King was on the staff of the Santa Fe at that time. He was up there making a final investigation of Hatch before he moved on to another job. Then after he moved out I think they combined the two Districts and Joe Rodriquez took over the whole thing, under the name of the Chama District. I've seen lots of consolidations in the Service.
When we finished up on the Santa Fe in the fall of 1924, we moved the whole outfit down and pastured them over winter there south of Albuquerque. The next spring Ben Rutherford came down and he and I packed the outfit and moved it down to Magdalena and on out right into Reserve. Then moved on down and started in on the south end of the Frisco District against the Gila Forest, and worked right on up along the Border there.
That summer starting out we had this Jewish boy, Joe, and Gerald Pickford was with us, and Clifford McDuff. I don't think Babe joined us until next spring. Just the three of us and Ben, just a small crew there. Then the next spring Pickford was back; Mac was back; and Babe came into the crew at that time and was with us during the rest of the summer of 1925. In the winter of '25 I left the crew and I believe Babe took over. I think Koogler took over the crew then. I think they moved to the Tonto, and I went to the Tusayan that spring.
Was John Kerr sold on the procedure? Did he believe in reconnaissance?
I don't think anybody but John ever knew whether he did or not. Let's say he accepted it and never said anything about it. There was a lot of it I don't really believe he was too strong for, but he went along all right and never said much one way or the other. He tried to be as helpful as possible. He'd back you up. Sometimes, I think maybe a time or two in my case, he was too well. I'd have been better off probably in the long run if he hadn't backed me up but had straightened me out on a thing or two. But he didn't. He pretty much let me have my own way, which didn't work out well a little later on. I got too used to having my own way.
How did the Supervisors react? Were they like the Rangers, some lukewarm; some for it, some against it?
Frank Andrews of course was Supervisor on the Santa Fe all the time we were there. Frank didn't seem to take much interest in it; he left us pretty much up to Rex King. Rex was handling the grazing detail on the Forest, and Frank's interest was more in Timber and Lands. He was really a Lands man. He worked more on that end of it and left the range part of it pretty much up to Rex. Of course Rex was there the winter I was on the staff of the Santa Fe, too.
When you worked on the Tusayan, you were the Grazing staffman?
Yeah. My title was Grazing Examiner. Kimball was the Supervisor there at that time. We had an old-timer on the Grand Canyon District. He retired and is living at Magdalena now Art Gibson. Clyde Moose was at Chalendar. Tracy Rice was out west of town at a Ranger Station there that we called Camp Clover, and Harold Hulbert was on the Spring Valley District and Charley Auman was down under the Rim. An old man by the name of Cox was Ranger at Ash Fork until they revised those Districts. Cox left there shortly after, or while I was at Williams. I don't remember whether he was there one year or two years after I got out of there, but he left about 1927 or '28, along in there, and that's when they transferred over part of the Ash Fork District to Tracy's there, the Williams District, and the rest of it, to the District under the Rim; Cedar Glade was the Ranger Station. I can't recall that name right now.
Did they call that the Verde?
Yes, the Verde. Those were the Rangers, and Kim took quite a lot of interest in them.
I landed there, of course, right in the middle of a big fight to segregate the range between sheep and cattle. I got in on a lot of that. Kim had it pretty well lined up before I went in there, but I had to do quite a bit of field work sometimes getting justification for it, although he had it pretty well in mind. He had it all worked out on paper. It was just a matter of putting it across, more or less.
Did that get pretty hot?
Not particularly. We didn't have any great difficulty. There were only two or three cases. There was one there on the Verde District that we never did get divided between Putney and the Campbell Brothers down there. We never did get that segregated. In most of the rest of them we pretty well succeeded before I left it. As a matter of fact, I think that was the only one so far as I can remember that wasn't done, on the whole Forest.
How long were you there?
I was there four years. I went there in the spring of 1926, and left in the spring of 1930 to go to Alamogordo. I went from Williams to Alamogordo.
While I was on the Tusayan I worked over the old range surveys and made new ones where they didn't have any, and reworked the whole management plan set up for the Forest at that time. I know some of it, most of it, we were never able to get the stocking down to the figures it looked like we ought to, but it just wasn't administratively feasible at the time to do it. I worked on some of that stuff on the Verde District, particularly those ranges east of the railroad, from there on over, you know, the old so-called East Bear and West Bear Canyon allotments.
Well, when Kim saw my figures for that, he almost turned pale. He was always pretty pale anyway. He'd say, "My God, I know we can't; that's what we ought to do if we could do it, but we can't do that. It will be a long while before we ever got down to those figures." We helped them a lot anyway.
If we had got down to those figures, where they should have been right at that time, that range would be in a lot better shape now.
Oh yes, undoubtedly it would be. And one thing, I did quite a bit of my work on the East Bear and the West Bear allotments right along with the cowboys. They camped at different places and I was with them most of the time. I worked right out of their camp and worked with those boys. Got to know them all. It was a big help.
Ben Perkins was in charge of the thing then, and Paul Moore was pretty much ramrodding the outfit. Guess they never got down to the capacity figures on Old Man Bugley's range. On some of the others, we got down pretty well. One of the surprising things about it, my carrying capacity figures on a couple of those sheep allotments there were higher then the stocking that was on them at the time.
The fellow in charge of those allotments was working for the bank. His name was Cliff and he had a brother who was a cattleman there on the Tonto he was one of the early fellows, a pioneer in range management oh, Cliff Caveness, it was. His stocking figures were under my capacities.
I happened to be up at this headquarters, up toward Grand Canyon, on the flats there; I saw him there one day and he said. "Hell, the trouble with most of these cowboys around here, they don't know range; they don't know what a range is." I got a lot of good information from him on some of our palatability and usability figures: we never did have the correct terms for them.
They first thought they could come up with a palatability figure and then make it applicable by varying the forage-acre requirements. We were using anywhere from ten to fifteen or sixteen in some cases on it, when what we should have been doing was applying the so-called palatability usability figures and making it like the original computation on the thing.
When you went to the Lincoln, was Fred Arthur the Supervisor?
Yes, Fred Arthur was the Supervisor, and Sim Strickland was the Deputy there then.
I only had charge of Range Management and Fire Control, and Sim had Timber. He was a timber man anyway. There was quite a lot of reconnaissance work there, too, but we proceeded on a little different basis. We would take two or three weeks or a month out of every year. We would call in all the Rangers into one crew and have a regular reconnaissance crew using the Rangers on the Forest. It worked out fine.
I didn't know that had ever been done.
It's never been done anywhere else so far as I know. On the old Tusayan, in the spring, we would get together down underneath the Rim and hold our training sessions. On the Lincoln we went a little stronger.
Fred Arthur used the Rangers a lot; Dick Gault was good at it. Reuben Boone got in on it, and some of the other boys. Lee Beall worked a lot. The only one not brought in was George Messer. He was at Corona; that was part of the Lincoln at that time, you know, the Gallinas District. George Messer was there, and Lee Beall was at Capitan; he had that District. Dick Gault was at the Mesa Ranger Station on the White Mountain District. Reuben Boone had the Sacramento District, and Bill Woods was up at High Rolls, and Vance Thomas was down on the Guadalupes.
Vance worked with me a lot on it, too; he picked it up in good shape. Of course Vance didn't last very long; he came down with cancer and was out of the picture after the first couple of years I was there. He passed away before I left there in 1934. I was there from 1930 to 1934.
You were there when the CCC started?
I was there when the CCC started, yes, and I had a lot of work to do in connection with those CC camps. Ed Dyksterhaus came in down there. He was in charge of one of the CCC crews up there doing timber stand improvement work, thinning principally, over there on the north side of the Capitan Mountains. He had a crew working over there. He was one of the foremen of that CCC camp. Later on I broke him in on range reconnaissance work and he did a lot of that along the south side of the Capitans. He went from there to the Carson, on range management work.
I had Fire Control while I was on the Lincoln, too. I really got exposed to more administration there than I had anywhere else. And from the Lincoln I came over here to Tucson in the fall of 1934 and took William John Anderson's place after he passed away.
McKenzie was Deputy here and Fred Winn was Supervisor. Gilbert Sykes was the Catalina Ranger at that time, and John Pomeroy had the Santa Ritas, at Patagonia. Another old-timer was at Nogales, Art Wingo. Art Wingo was there, and Ole Olson was on the Huachuca District. He was at the old Ranger Station at Canelo. Tom Bently had the west side of the Chiricahuas and was at Turkey Creek. And who the Heck was at Portal at that time? Oh yes, Sam Sowell was at Douglas.
Anyway, I was just here over the winter, and the next spring I went to the Shelterbelt. I was there in the spring of '35. I was over there until about the middle of '36 and then I came back to the Santa Fe.
Of course Ole Olson was having trouble there; he was having difficulties with the ranchers out there. He had gotten framed on a bootlegging deal. He was framed, too framed beautifully. There was no doubt of it; he was framed.
I hardly had time to get my feet wet on the Coronado until I left the next spring, and McKenzie left at the same time. Garvin Smith came here then. Sam Sowell came into the office after I left here, too.
What kind of work did you do on the Santa Fe?
I came back to the Santa Fe of course that Rio Grande situation was hot then; what the Heck did they call that? That big project that they had in connection with the Spanish-Americans at that time? Dependency Studies, that was it.
I know I came in about the middle of the summer and was only there until the next spring, and hardly had time to get seated there again.
Pinson, I think, was still there at Santa Fe; John Johnson was still over on the Pecos; Max Bruhl was at Las Vegas, and Perl Charles was Deputy in the office. Ralph Earl was Ranger out at Canada. Don't believe they had anyone at Espanola then. Perl Charles had been at Espanola. And Joe Rodriquez was still up at Coyote, and our friend Ed Perry was over on the Cuba District.
Roger, was that when the so-called Northern New Mexico grazing policy was established?
I'm not sure whether it was or not. I know when I went to the Santa Fe the first time and started out on the Santa Clara Ranger District there was an old-timer there on the Santa Clara District. I can't think of the name. This fellow had married a Mexican woman and they had eight kids; four of 'em were just as blond as anything you have ever seen, and four were dark as could be. When we went in there, four of these little kids came out and someone remarked about what a family he had, and he said, "Heck, this is only half of them!" He wasn't there too long.
I didn't think I stood very high in Dave Shumaker's opinion in those days; I was a little too darned independent, I think. I came into the office one morning and Frank says, "You'd better go down to Albuquerque. Dave Shumaker wants to talk to you." So I said, "What in Hell now? What have I done now?" He kinda laughed.
I went on down and went into Dave's office and he looked at me and said, "Well, are you ready for another big job?" I said, "Have I had any big jobs?" He said, "You may not think so, but I do. I've tried everybody else on this, but nobody seems to have enough imagination to get on top of it." And that was that Northern New Mexico Dependency Study.
He says, "I've tried Cassady and I've tried Wiltbanks," and I don't remember who all else he'd tried, and nobody seemed to be able to get anywhere with it. Well, anyway, I went to Albuquerque then on detail, and that was just about the time this Interdepartmental business came up. The two tied in together.
Johnny Adams came in and they assigned me to help him. I was doing the Dependency Study and the Interdepartmental Study worked in together, and I did them right along at the same time. I don't know how much good they ever got out of it. I think I had the answer to it, but it didn't suit: too many didn't like it that part was later deleted from the report before it was published. Later on the Soil Conservation people took that part out when they got hold of it. They made some kind of semi-official publication out of it.
It was discussion of that Partida system up there, and that was the answer. I tried to get them to look at the Partida system the same as a banking system. Here actually you haven't got a stockman; these people that are operating and running these sheep should have the permit. It should be in their names, but they had no land ownership. It was a knotty thing, all right. Then of course Bond was mixed up in it.
Yes, Sargent up there on the Carson. I think the only good maybe was the attention that was focused on it. I also tried to put over the idea that the dependency deal up there went a whole lot farther than just trying to satisfy the grazing proposition. They ought to devote all the resources in that area toward the solution of that problem.
The one thing that I proposed was that they ought to try to get in among these people and educate them a little more, particularly the young people, and try to arouse their curiosity about the outside world. They finally got to sending in the Showboat with pictures and other things, and I think that was one outcome of it.
I know quite a long while later, after I came to the Coronado, that thing came up. Somebody sent me a clipping out of the Taos paper. Somebody was taking a crack at me about the Dependency Study. I don't know whether they made any headway with those people. The answer actually was not within the province of the Forest Service. It was the province of the New Mexico school system. That's where the answer lay, to get some decent schools in there training those people. That would have been the answer to it. A lot of the young people, instead of staying in here and dividing up the land, they'd have gotten out. I think a lot more of them are doing that now. They probably have broken that old system now. It was sure tight going when we were there.
What it did was to foster poverty.
Yes, that's just what it did. A lot of these damned give-away programs are doing it now, too, just fostering more poverty.
I don't know if you remember when I was in Washington about three months one winter? When I was there I made the acquisition report on a lot of the private lands in the Sacramento Division on the Lincoln to get a purchase unit set up down there. And that's what we were pushing for in Northern New Mexico. I was working up a big purchase unit deal for Northern New Mexico. It would have been a big deal, too. It took in a lot of those big grants up there. But before we could ever start to implement the thing, the War came on and fouled everything up. But that was a big deal if it had ever gone through. Boy, we used to have some hot arguments on some of that stuff.
You have seen the start of the scientific management studies.
Yes, I have seen a heck of a change in the attitude of the stockmen toward range management. When we started, it was bucking a brick wall. It was hard to make any impression on them. Once in a while you'd run into someone like the Caveness boys, who could see it; who'd get along with you. But most of 'em wouldn't: you'd have to fight 'em.
As an illustration of the change in attitude, in here one day in the office, when Ed McFall was in charge of Range, Henry Boyce was here and we were chewing the fat and he said, "I used to think that as long as I went out on the range to see my cattle and they were doin' all right, I figured everything was all right; that was all that was needed." He didn't need to look at the condition of the range at all. I nearly fell off the Christmas tree to hear something like that coming from Henry Boyce. This goes to show the way things have changed in the meantime.
I had another detail to go down to the Guayule outfit. I was there a little over a year. I originally organized the Arizona what there was here. Major Kelly sent in one of his pets from Region 2 and he tried to reorganize the whole thing. He was here for only a short time. Finally said he had done all he could, and left for somewhere else. We dragged along with it for quite a long while and were here for another year, but it was just a closing-out deal.
I came down here and landed right in the middle of this Catalina deal. We had all those mining claims, and fought that all the way through, and we had all that recreation pressure coming up; that's pretty recent anyway. That's not ancient history. It all happened since the War.
Of course I think probably the last thing of any consequence that I did do was figuring out the readjustment of the Ranger District setup on this Forest. I believe that I was the one that dreamed up this idea of cutting down this big District here and creating another Ranger District: putting the north end of the Santa Ritas and the Rincons into one District; adding part of the old Santa Rita District to the Nogales District; taking the rest of the Huachuca District and combining it with what was left of the Santa Rita District, the south side: setting up another Ranger District in Willcox with these two scattered Divisions out here, plus some of the north end of the Chiricahuas; and combining the rest of it into the Douglas District.
That was done on the basis of workloads?
Yes, on the basis of workloads.
Well, Roger, in your experience now, has the Forest Service met its responsibilities in the way of conservation?
Pretty much, I think, although there are some things I never did agree with; I still don't. One of them is the fire control policy.
The policy of handling fires on some of these areas around here is all wrong; oh, for areas like most of the Santa Rita District and the Nogales District down there. I wouldn't be in a big sweat about controlling fires down there because all a man would lose is a little cow feed, and poor cow feed at that. You could take five men and let them start on the fireline here and start following that thing around and give them a little food and water, and eventually they'd get around it. Don't pay any attention to how much it burns over; it's just old stuff anyway.
You could save a lot of expense in fighting fires on those things. The damage figures you get out of them don't anywhere near justify their cost, and they try to justify it. The only reasonable justification that they try to make out of it is that it's a matter of mental condition; they like to have people fire-conscious. Maybe there's a little excuse for it there, but I doubt it.
Where you get high values is where you get stuff around these steep foothills like over here in the Chiricahuas where the fire starts down along those foothills and will run up into the higher country; that's something else again. That's an entirely different picture. I think the Service could have saved a lot of money.
You know that of late we've been getting money for watershed work?
There's been an increase in emphasis in watershed protection. For so long we didn't get any money. We were just paying lip service. It's a step in the right direction.
I think the Indian Service boys with their burning program is something that would bear some investigation, and some of the watershed money could very well be used for that. You know, the best watershed in the world for this country would be a grass range or, that is, open pine and grass. You know the Chiricahuas and on some of these areas that have gone heavily to brush. You take some of these brush areas over here in these mountains, the Whetstones, and give them a good burning over and then put a bunch of goats to graze in there; they'd kill out that brush in a few years and convert that to grass range and it could be the best watershed protection in the world.
The mountains would serve a whole lot better for watershed purposes than it does as it is. You'd be doing away with the use of that brush on the water supply it draws out of the ground. It feeds deeper; you've got your cover on the ground; you've got your water delivery of moisture from the winter storm. The dead grass won't use any of it in the winter, but it will in the summer, but then in summer you want something that will stop the water and hold it in place.
The best watershed objective is to stop that water and get it in the ground as quickly as possible. It cuts down on evaporation. When the summer floods come down these big sand washes when they are hot and dry away down, well, just use your imagination. How much loss do we have through evaporation from those things before they get cooled off enough for the water to go on down? Get it into the ground?
In a place like the Whetstones, would you reseed that?
No, you wouldn't need to reseed it. You might want to reseed immediately after you burn it, to get a little stuff to hold it for the first year. After that, goats will eat the species of sprouts: like oak, mahogany, and that kind of stuff. The goats will feed on that rough stuff, whereas the stuff there now is so big they can't do anything with it. Eventually they would, even now, without any burning at all.
The old boy on the J-6 came over here one day. He wanted to convert his cow permit over to goats, over there on the north end of the Whetstones. Pure brushlands, that's all it is. Heinie and Ed couldn't see it: I was hoping they'd go along with it. It was the best darned thing that could happen to it.
Well, Ed was an old cowman.
Yes he was, and he didn't want any goats. But it was the best thing he could have done for the range.
I think that the Forest Service ought to start preaching a little stronger on the different types of use for the same range by the same stockmen. In other words, after he runs cattle for so many years you're going to start getting brush coming in, and weeds coming in. If he will convert it to sheep for a little while they'll clean up the weeds and some of the brush. If the brush gets too heavy, run some goats in, and they'll clean out the brush. You need diversification along the lines of that kind of use more than you do seasonal use and deferred-rotation. I think that about covers my detail.
Mr. Jesse T. Fears, born in Texas, came to Arizona in 1903 at the age of fifteen. As an orphan, he had a rough childhood and got very little schooling. He worked as a cowboy until he went into the Forest Service, except for that period when he was in the Army in World War I. Jesse was interviewed at his home in Payson, Arizona. His story starts with his appointment as a Forest Ranger.
They sent me to the Eagle District, to the Honeymoon Station on Eagle Creek, in charge. That was my first District. I was transferred that summer to the Nutrioso Station and I was the Assistant a year or maybe two years down there. I was transferred then to Greer.
The Forest was overrun with unpermitted horses and they either had Rangers that couldn't do anything with 'em, or wouldn't do anything with 'em. We started in there. I first notified these people and tried to get 'em to get rid of their horses, and they laughed at me. Said if they had trespass horses, why didn't I get 'em for trespass, and I said, "I will when I get to it."
Then Roy Swapp and I threw in together and the first winter we gathered before they knew, we had 'em gathered, down on Campbell Blue (that was his District. He was at Alpine) over 800 horses in one bunch. Then we started and I actually gathered 2600 head of unpermitted horses on the Greer District. They were tallied and a record made of 'em before I ever killed a horse.
How did you handle these horses when you gathered them?
We threw them out on the public domain. There was loco (weed) out there, and loco got a lot of 'em. We threw 'em out there in that loco country east of Springerville.
Did you make any trespass cases out of any of them?
No, there were just too many of 'em and I just felt I wasn't capable. I hadn't had enough experience and there were just too many of them. We just threw 'em out there out of the way off of the Forest.
Now, what was it that led up to this T-12 case?
Well, I gathered this big bunch of horses and got a pasture that was a point fenced in that they seldom ever used; the Cross Bar Cattle Company the horses were a nuisance to them, too. They told me that I could use their pasture and I gathered these horses; I don't remember how many horses I gathered. I sent the notices out according to the Regulations that I had these horses in trespass.
We were supposed to give them five days' notice. Well, I gave 'em 30 days' notice. I stretched it in every case. They didn't come and get any of them; oh, they may have come and got a few of the best ones.
I notified them then that the horses were in trespass and were going to be handled as trespass horses and I was gonna hold 'em 30 days. I held 'em 60 days before I ever did anything with 'em over 60 days. Then I advertised 'em for sale.
Well, nobody would bid on 'em except that Melvin Swapp, he did bid on a mare that was unbranded, and nobody knew who she belonged to, a great big mare. She made him a good horse. Afterwards he told me that.
When nobody would bid on them, I said, "Well, I'll just keep 'em and see what I can do with them." I turned 'em back out, but I had a man in charge of the pasture. So then when things quieted down, I got a permittee and I got a fellow that was working for me, and we went up there and rounded 'em up and we shot 'em until our shoulders were so damned sore we couldn't hold a gun. We killed 52 head of 'em. We left the best looking ones out there.
Well, it was a month or two before they discovered those dead horses, and then the fat was in the fire! This shyster lawyer got hold of it down there. He agreed to prosecute me through two courts for $300 if they would put up and he'd be deputized. Well, they dug up the money for him and they started it, too.
The Sheriff I knew well. I told him, "Any time you get a warrant for me, just call me up. I'll come down. You won't need to come up and serve it." So he called me and I went to St. Johns and he served the warrant on me. That was the start of the court cases.
Was the first court held at St. Johns?
All of 'em were; I mean there for a while. Yes, the first one was held there. That was when the Government had this attorney from Washington and one from Tucson and one from Phoenix, besides French (the Regional Law Officer.) Well, they didn't do anything.
The Judge said he felt this was a more serious case than most people thought, and he wanted them to submit briefs. The Judge asked them how long a time they wanted to submit the briefs, and French said 24 hours. Old Ike Barth, he wanted 60 days. They argued back and forth and back and forth, and finally the Judge gave 'em ten days, that is, he gave us ten days to file our brief, and Barth ten days to answer that brief, and us another ten days to answer his brief. Well, French submitted the Government's brief within 24 hours because he had it all prepared.
The funny thing was, when we went to St. Johns afterwards, in talking about it, they didn't have anybody down there that could write shorthand. They could write just a few words of this testimony, then they just put a lot of lines out there, French got hold of this fellow and said, "Don't you remember me asking this, and him saying that?" So he put those words in afterwards different things that weren't in the shorthand notes. And he was supposed to be the clerk of the Court!
That wasn't a JP Court?
Oh no, it was the regular County Court.
Then they found you guilty?
No, not then. It went on quite a while.
French wrote to the Judge that he had never received Barth's brief, and the Judge then wrote a letter to Barth, and Barth said he was still preparing his brief. Then he wrote again and that time Barth said the brief was in the mail. Well, it didn't show up. French wrote him again and he said, Well, he hadn't got it prepared yet. Anyway, we went down there four times. I think it was, for me to be tried, and there was nobody there but us. The Judge wasn't there and the prosecution wasn't there. There wasn't anybody there. Then the Government drew up I don't know what the paper was saying that I was entitled to a speedy trial and they were therefore demanding that they either dismiss the charges against me or give me a speedy trial.
Then the Judge set a date for this hearing, and that is when he found me guilty. He had the decision already written up, because he said there would be a few minutes recess, and we didn't get out of the courtroom until he called us back. He had it already typed up, and he read it. He said he couldn't see where Regulation T-12 of the Department of Agriculture had any effect in law. Therefore he would find me guilty and would fine me $1.00.
Then French got up and said, "Your Honor, my client refuses to pay the $1.00 fine. What will be the alternative?" The Judge turned to the Sheriff and told him to levy on any property I had for that $1.00 fine.
French immediately filed notice of a appeal to the Supreme Court. And it went to the Supreme Court, that is, the State Supreme Court. After they had studied it, they sent it back and said that everyone knows that Federal laws are paramount to State laws. Therefore they had had no right to arrest me when I was carrying out instructions given me by the Secretary of Agriculture and they should throw out the charges against me and refund my bonds.
Well, it was over a year and we had to demand that they release my bondsmen. I had bondsmen instead of putting up bonds. It was a year before we got the bonds.
In the meantime, then, they thought, well they've got horses everywhere: the country was overrun with horses. I wanted to see somebody else start this fight instead of me. I knew I was in a hotbed with a Kangaroo Court setup, too.
Well, then they (the Government Attorneys) enjoined the County Attorney and his deputies and successors; the Sheriff and his deputies; the Governor and his successors, and the Attorney General and his assistants and successors. That's what they filed, and it went to Federal Court before three Judges sitting in banc in Los Angeles.
When we went over there the Attorney General was drunk. He got up and tried to tell that we had no business in Federal Court with a case like that. One of those old Judges they were all old enough to die he got up and jabbed his walking stick down and he stood up straight, and he said, "Do you mean to try to tell this Court that the Federal Government doesn't have any right in its own Court in the protection of its own property? Is that what you're trying to tell me?" He didn't say anything to that.
Well, then, the Judge that was to write up the decision died. So then next time it was in San Francisco. That Judge didn't die. He wrote up a decision and gave them what they asked for the Government.
That set a precedent, then?
Yes, that set the precedent for getting rid of these unpermitted horses.
What year was that? When did that take place?
Well, let's see, '22, '23, '24; I'd guess it was around about 1925, or 1926.
Jim Monighan was my assistant and we had what we called the White Mountain drift fence, and no cattle were supposed to go beyond there before the first of May. I had sent Jim up there to ride that fence. I saw him comin' off the hill, his horse all in a lather. "My God," he says. "All the fences are cut down." Well, they had cut about a hundred yards where these stock could move through in three places, and had taken all the gates out and they had rolled up this wire and hauled it off some place. These cattle and horses were through on the summer range so that I couldn't count them, you see?
I called the Supervisor and told him what had happened and asked him to call a Stock Association meeting; that I wanted to come down and talk to them. So they called the meeting and I went down there to talk to them. I told them what had happened and I said, "I suspect one party of doing that, but I haven't got any proof, but I suspect this one party. "But," I said, "you people can move those cows and horses they are thin at this time of the year, the cattle are easier than I can. And if you don't move 'em, I will." And they promised me they would.
Well, I got Roy Swapp and his assistant and his brother and I had Monighan and, I think, another fellow, and we gathered about 800 head of horses and put 'em back, and we fixed the fence up. Loveridge came along about that time, and he authorized me, if I could find a man that I could depend on, when I got the fence fixed up, to hire him to ride it, to put him on and keep him on there until the first of May. And I did. I happened to have the right man; they knew they didn't dare fool with him.
I think there were 1500 or 1600 head of cattle on the summer range, and I gathered them. It wasn't easy, but when we got through gathering them, these men from the Association showed up there to help me. They figured the stock would be scattered all over the mountain, you see. I knew they weren't scattered and that the time to get 'em was right then. And I did.
Here was the thing: When I went up there those people told me that they had taken the land away from the Indians and, "by God, there wasn't no Government and nobody else gonna tell them how to run their stock." The funny part was that my wife's people, my wife's grandfather, was in charge of an immigrant train that came across the plains from Missouri, and they came in there in August of '76. There wasn't a Mormon in that country above St. Johns, just Mexicans and a few Gentiles. That's all that was there. Now, they were there before the Mormons were.
Were the Beckers there?
Oh yes. Old Man Gus Becker, he had the store there. He came in there the same day that my wife's people came in there; he overtook them horseback comin' from Albuquerque out there about Salt Lake and rode with them all the way into Springerville. Her people camped up there in Water Canyon close to where the Ranger Station was then.
Well, had they been doing just as they pleased ever since they started there, Jesse?
Pretty much, yes pretty much. The trouble was, you know, the first Rangers they sent out here they sent them out from the east, and they didn't know anything about stock conditions or how to handle 'em or anything else. They gradually began to get men that did know, but they got men that wouldn't do. A lot of them were capable of it but they just didn't want to go up against it. It just looked like a tough proposition.
I figured that somebody had to do it and I waited for somebody to do it first before ever I killed a horse. Then when I started, why, I went on. French claims now that was the most important case he handled while he was in the Forest Service. It set precedents all over the West.
All over the West the country was covered with horses. I can remember before I went in the Forest Service up there on top of this mountain, when you'd be ridin' across there you'd see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of horses in a day's time. Well, it got so up there those fellows couldn't hardly round up their cattle in that open country on account of the horses running through them, turning their drives and that stuff.
Were the regular permittees pretty much behind you in that work?
Only the larger ones. The smaller ones all had excess stock. The larger ones didn't, in horses and cattle. There were a few of the smaller ones, but most of them weren't.
Were they petty hostile toward you?
Yes, someone went up there and killed my wife's saddle horse in the pasture up there at the foot of Baldy. I went up there to get him one time in a snowstorm and he had been shot right through the heart. I never thought very much about it because saddle horses were cheap then, around $60 to $65.
Earl Loveridge got somebody to take that up in Congress in an omnibus bill. It didn't get through one year but then next year it did, and Congress paid me for that horse. I never expected anything, you know. Earl Loveridge was the one that did it.
Earl wasn't Supervisor then, was he?
No, he was out of the Regional Office, in charge of Operations then. He was on an inspection trip. That's were so many people dreaded him, but he was a man that I sure liked. When you asked him a question you got an answer and you understood it. It might not be the answer that you wanted, but there was no dilly-dallying around. I thought a lot of Earl Loveridge.
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From the Use Book, 1906 Each Supervisor (and Ranger) is required to keep at his own expense one or more horses, to be used under saddle or to vehicle, for his transportation in the Reserve.
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I had good horses and Earl told me once, "You know it's a pleasure to be over on your District in making inspections, riding these horses of yours. You can just ride them in a long trot all day long and they're still up and coming when night comes."
Have you had trouble with grazing permittees all through your Forest Service experience?
Oh, no. I've had very little trouble with the grazing permittees. Now you take Frank Grubb; he wanted me to go down here on the Crook. I didn't want to go down there, and he called me up and asked me to meet him in Globe. I met him there in Globe and he explained the situation, what had been going on and everything, and he said, "These people have been given a pretty raw deal, these permittees." And he said, "I think you can help me get them back as friends of the Forest Service." I don't believe there was over one down there who wasn't a friend of mine when I left that District, and he was a fellow that was kind of nutty.
One time I think he had, oh I don't know, 50 or 60 head of cattle and he was on an allotment with another permittee that had 840 head. He got a crooked lawyer and demanded a division of the allotment, and he wanted half of the allotment. Well, we explained to him that he couldn't get half of the allotment; it would be divided on a per-cow basis. We had a lot of meetings with him.
McDuff and I went over there and finally got him to agree on a line. I held a slicker over McDuff while he wrote out an agreement in the rain. It was raining like hell when he and Mac and me signed it. He kicked back on it before we got back to town.
Even though he had signed it?
Oh yes, and then the thing was, we rode over and went over it he was just nutty and he rode that line until he had a beat-out trail all around where we were going to put a fence, he rode it so much. I know one time I got worried when we were building a fence over there and I got word from the fence foreman that he had been over there and told them to stop building that fence. He told 'em to stop building it. I thought I had better go over and see about it. It's so far over there that I would have to haul a horse a long way. I hauled one in there to Louie Horrel's ranch on Pinto Creek, then I had to ride about eight or nine miles to get down there to where the start of this fence was. I asked Louie, I said, "Where's Jack Martin?" that's the fellow that worked for him and he said, "You may run into him. I think he's down the creek."
Well, going down the creek and through these water moulders. I saw somebody on a horse and I didn't pay any attention: I was going right down the creek. I come out of those water moulders and this old fellow was sittin' on his horse with his hand on his six-shooter right across the trail from me. I started to talk to him, but he wouldn't talk to me at first. I said, "I'd like for you to go along and look over that fence with me, Henry, and see what your kick is that you've got about the fence," Well, he kinda softened up then and talked a little bit and we went on over.
When I got to the fence foreman I told him, "You're not taking orders from anybody else but me, on this fence." I said, "If the Supervisor gives you any different orders, you have him write it out on a piece of paper and save it for me." This fellow listened at us for just a little bit and he just jabbed his spurs in his horse and went right off one of those steep hills and headed for his ranch. And that's about the only one I ever had any trouble with.
I'll tell you, Rex King, Supervisor before Frank Grubb went there; every time those people had any non-use, he cut that non-use off. He cut some of those people off of non-use, without ever notifying them. They had a holler coming. Frank wanted me to help him straighten things out and I said, "I sure hate to come here, Frank, but I will for you." And I did, and I stayed there seven years.
Was that before you were on the Prescott or afterwards?
Afterwards. I went from the Prescott there.
Now, that Prescott deal; they were pretty big operators over there, weren't they?
Well, we had a bunch of small operators in there, but they were bigger operators as a rule than most of the Forests have.
That's a pretty nice country around Walnut.
That's where you made friends with J. R. Williams.
Yes, I lived neighbors about two miles from him for five or six years.
He must've been a mighty fine man.
Jim was a good man, a high-principled man; but he couldn't, if he got a drink, he couldn't let it alone he had to get drunk. Jim would go for months out there on that ranch and not go to town, to keep from getting drunk. He would come up to my place sometimes and want to know if I didn't have a drink. Well, I learned; I'd always have a bottle that had about two drinks in it so he could have a drink and I'd have one, and I'd tell him that was all the drinks I had. That would satisfy him and he'd go home. His wife would be gone when he'd start that.
Have you ever been up to Springerville?
Did you see those blue spruce around the Post Office there?
I planted those blue spruce; I planted either 14 or 16 of them about 1925. I transplanted them but they destroyed some of them when they rebuilt that building. Every one of them grew. I talked to an old fellow up there at Eager that had transplanted some great big ones and he said, "If you ever transplant them, get 'em from out in the open, where the sun hits 'em from all sides and were they don't have any taproots." You know conifers don't have any taproots except on hillsides. They have 'em on hillsides but not in the flats. So I just balled 'em and brought some dirt along and transplanted 16, and every one of 'em lived.
Well, I know that you worked with fellows like Roy Swapp. You had some pretty good times apparently.
Oh, yes. I tell you, I worked with Roy and I swear I never saw anybody suffer like he did. I always wore these boot overshoes and he didn't. We gathered most of our horses in snow because we could track 'em better and could handle 'em. Roy's feet would get so they would just damned near freeze off but he never would wear a boot overshoe. I wore 'em all the time, but Roy wouldn't and Boy how he suffered.
There used to be a tall slender fellow; he fought around the ring. Used to go into these Mexican towns and just clean 'em all up. I can't think of his name. You know they didn't use to charge us for quarters, then they started charging us for quarters. They charged us all alike, regardless of the quarters. He was living in a little old two-room house and had to use one room as an office and that meant he had to live in the other one.
I guess he wasn't too good an office man. Loveridge had been there and made an inspection. After Loveridge left, why he called him up, found out where he was, and asked him if he didn't leave his Administrative Guide there. Loveridge blew up; he said, "God A'mighty, that's your Administrative Guide I dug out from under all that junk you had in there!" I can't think of that fellow's name. He had a cattle ranch out there the last time: of course that's been a good many years ago.
I worked on Triple A when it first started, for the first two years. The Forest Service furnished men on Triple A and I worked on that. I worked a little here in Arizona, up around Seligman, over west of Prescott, down around Safford in that desert country.
The first year after they started it I worked up around that Farmington country in New Mexico. They were having a lot of trouble over there at Tucumcari, New Mexico. They had asked for the removal of every man they had over there. They sent me over there. Well, I figured they would ask for my removal pretty soon too, because I saw what they were doing. They had those forms all made up and wanted you to sign 'em; they weren't your reports, they were their reports. So I didn't last too long either, but I lasted a little longer that the others did, but there was no chance for anybody.
They sent an inspector out there from Washington. The County Committee were all out of the country when he came out and so was the County Agent. He said that was the crookedest outfit he had seen in the whole outfit, at Tucumcari then. In order to get rid of me, instead of giving me the cases which I asked for, with a map so I could do progressive traveling, they would give me a case that was way back over here 40 or 50 miles, a little bitty outfit, and the next one would be way back over about the same distance the other way. Just spotted around in different ways. I knew there wasn't any chance for me to work with them, because I wasn't gonna sign any of those reports that they made out.
Then I worked up there in that Farmington country, around Chaco Ruins. Then they sent me down there at Las Crucas and I worked there a little while and then I came home, at the end of the year. I thought I was through with it, and then the next spring they called on me again.
Well, I'll tell you something of my experience with the CCC camps.
We had just awfully darned good men in the first two CC camps. They were boys out of work and wanting work. They come from the Tuna Valley and the Gila Valley. From then on, though, the class of men began to deteriorate. There towards the last, they come from those coal mines; second-generation Americans back there and also down on the Rio Grande, second-generation Mexicans.
That first group that I had, which was one of the first camps, those boys came in there hungry; they wanted work.
Well, the first two periods that I had anything to do with, they worked. They put out work just like they would put out any place else; I mean, as a whole, you find some drones among any group that size. I mean as a whole they put out good work. I think we'd still have had CCs if the War hadn't come along.
Well, I worked more or less with all of those relief setups. Now you take one case; I forget what the setup was. A woman came down with a boy, a little old baby-faced boy, to see what kind of men, what kind of camp, and what the conditions were. I thought, well she's concerned with her boy. We went out in the camp and the foreman told me, he said, "Hell, he's been stealing everything everybody else has got in camp." I said, "Well, talk to him about it; we can't put up with that." He said, "I have." I said, "Well, I'll talk to him. We can't put up with it and he can't stay here if we do." I talked to the boy three times and I told him, I said, "We can't put up with it at all."
Come to find out, he had been in Fort Grant (Reformatory). I fired him, I just said I'd had enough of him.
Well, the head of the outfit down at Phoenix wrote me a letter and wanted to know what right I had to fire him, and I said, "Well he was stealing the other fellows' stuff, trying to pick on some of the older men, and he wouldn't work." They wrote back and wanted to know if I had warned him about that and I wrote back and I told 'em I had. Then they wrote back and wanted to know if I had warned him three times, and I said, "Yes, I've warned him four times before I canned him." That finally ended it. But there's what you had to do: that kind of stuff.
On the other hand, I had a Mexican out there, he was as good a worker as you'd want any place. He put out an honest day's work and he put out plenty of it. They called me from the office to go out there and fire him. I asked why and they said he had lied. They asked him if he had ever been convicted of a crime and he said no. If he had told them "yes", they wouldn't have put him on. He'd been convicted of murder and had served time for it. I don't know anything about it but he was an agreeable fellow with everybody and worked well with everybody, and did more than his part. But I had to fire him.
Mr. John D. Jones was born in Wales. At the age of three, with his parents, he arrived in Helena, Montana, on June 14, 1882. He attended school in Montana and graduated from the University in 1906. He entered the Forest Service on June 15, 1906 as a Forest Guard at $60 per month. After working at various jobs in the Service, in October of 1907 he entered the University of Michigan to study Law. After receiving his Law degree four years later, he returned to District 1, in Missoula, Montana as Assistant Chief of Lands. He was transferred to the Washington Office in 1914 as Assistant Chief of Lands. He remained in that position until 1920 when he transferred to Albuquerque. John D. was interviewed at his home in Albuquerque. His story starts with his arrival in District 3.
In 1920 I was transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico, as Chief of Lands for Region 3. I continued in that work until 1930 and then transferred to Public Relations and remained there until 1934 when I was transferred as Liaison Officer with the CCC at San Antonio. I spent nearly a year there and then transferred to the Shelterbelt at Lincoln, Nebraska and remained there as Public Relations Officer and covered the country from North Dakota to Texas. My main job was to visit Chambers of Commerce and public men and explain to them what the purpose of the Shelterbelt was.
In 1936 I returned to New Mexico, Albuquerque, and continued with the Forest Service in Operations. My main job while there was to work up the work plans, and the instructions for making them. I helped make the first batches of work plans that were made in this state, or in this Region. I continued that work until I retired in 1944. That's the main part of it.
Well, John D., that's an excellent summary, and you had a varied experience. When you came from Washington down here you were Chief of Lands?
I guess homestead examination work was your main job.
That was the biggest work; we had five people in the office at that time. Special Uses were just beginning. I helped lay out most of the early recreation areas here. Mr. Burrall and I laid out the areas on top of the Catalinas and out in the Santa Ritas, and some of them down on Oak Creek, and all of these up here on the Sandias and the Pecos. I made the first recreation plan for the Region, an outline for working out the basis of laying out lots. I didn't agree with laying out lots like city lots, in squares. My ides was to stake out the location that you wanted to put the house in and then the expression I used was, "wrap the lot around it," so they'd have a reasonable amount of privacy from the adjoining area. And that was the system we used. We didn't follow the regular rectangular lots, I didn't think they were practical.
And we encouraged people to chop as few trees as possible. The habit of most people was to trim as high as your eye, then when you sat down there was no privacy: you could just see through the whole area. So we always tried to encourage people to leave the shrubbery and just clear what was needed around the place itself. There was very little known about recreation layouts in those days.
I used to correspond with Dr. Francis of Syracuse University, who wrote a few items on it real early. Outside of that, he was about the only person working on it besides myself. I made a trip to Montana; I made a trip to Los Angeles and covered that famous area in the mountains north of Los Angeles, which everybody was bragging on, and when I saw them, they weren't as good as some of ours here. I didn't see that they had done anything new whatever, and the same thing was true in Utah.
Then I made a trip with Mr. Knight in 1924, up in Colorado, over the Squirrel Creek area, that everybody was braggin' about. It was real nice but no different from what we had in here.
You might be interested also in some of the experiences I had with the CCCs.
When I was Liaison Officer at Fort Sam Houston, I followed John D. Guthrie down there. General Hagood was Chief of Command there and my office was just three doors down from him. My job was to look over the areas that CC camps were asked for by cities and parks and towns and to inform the Army whether there was enough work there to justify their building a winter camp which cost then about $20,000 and to advise them on any projects of that kind.
I also had charge of the State Park camps and the Interior camps, i.e., in my work I covered all the camps. I worked very closely with the State Director at Austin, and also the Interior Department Director was located at Austin, visited there real often.
I visited the camps with the Army if there was any question or dispute as to the facilities. One of the few questionable ones we had was a camp up in Oklahoma, near Lawton. The local Army General, General Cruikshank there wouldn't authorize the Army to build the camp satisfactorily. He was at outs with General Hagood and didn't want to follow his instructions.
We finally had to send a pretty stiff wire, which the General signed, to tell him to go ahead and put it up. While the Chief of Staff was dictating the telegram and I was sitting there with him, the General buzzed. And of course in the Army, when the General buzzes, you go, so he turned to me quick and says, "You finish it," so I finished the telegram and he sent it to General Cruikshank at Fort Lawton, Oklahoma.
You did that work while you were still in the Forest Service?
Yes. The Liaison officers during the CC days were selected from the U. S. Forest Service. I had charge of the whole Eighth Corps Area, 172 camps. I made a trip with Colonel Green clear up to Buffalo, Wyoming, one summer. We checked camps as we went along.
The Army was extra nice, I found; they'd cooperate if you worked with them. Mr. Guthrie had a little trouble with 'em. He was a Virginian and he'd step up to the line but he wouldn't go over it. And my policy was, I told 'em I was laying my cards on the table and that was it. They said that was the way they liked it. They would give me transportation anywhere I wanted to go and would see that I had the right accommodations. I never had a nicer assignment than that one down there with the Eighth Corps Area headquarters.
For a long time there was a Captain McAllister and Major Parker who had charge of the work for the Army. We moved into another little house and my desk was between the two of them and when they were dictating a letter to a camp they'd tell me, "Now listen in and if there's anything you want to change, just cut in." We worked very closely and had the finest of relations.
Now from your wide experience in that CCC work, what do you think of the work performed by the camps?
The work was tops; the only question there was in the State camps. They tried to put in political superintendents.
Mr. Falk of Texas was very square and wanted to do the right thing. He had a camp at Austin that he couldn't get any work out of whatever; they were just boondoggling. So that fall I asked him if he wanted me to get rid of that man for him. In the wintertime we'd transfer the camps from Colorado and Wyoming to eastern Texas and down into Oklahoma, where they could work all winter. So all I had to do was transfer the Austin camp down somewhere else in Texas, send him one from Wyoming, then he didn't have to take any facilitating personnel. He was free to select his own men. That way we got a good man in that did a top job there in the park at Austin.
I had very close relations with the governor of Texas there, and in Oklahoma. Ma Ferguson was Governor part of the time I was there. Then later Mr. Allred.
When a city couldn't agree on where to put a camp, which was the case in Denver once, I just called the Forest Service there and asked them if they had a place for a camp. They said, "Yes", so I just sent 'em out there. We had a number of cases where the camp would be sitting, waiting to be assigned, because they couldn't agree whether they had the spot in the city or not. The Army was behind me on everything I did. They never had any questions on anything.
The success of the CC depended entirely on the officers that were building it, or handling it. If You had good Supervisors, there'd be only one or two goldbrickers in the Company. They were glad to work and willing to work and did good work everywhere. It was only where you had politicians that didn't know how to act as Superintendents. We didn't have many of those and we we were able to dispose of them, the men just did splendid work, all the way through.
The same thing happened when I was connected with the Shelterbelt. A lot of those farmers said they didn't want a lot of boondogglers runnin' over, tramping over their land. After they found out that we had trained the men to work and had competent leaders with them, and could plant with the welfare men just as much as you could with regular hired crews, why then they were all rushin' in to get strips to plant. That was the only difficulty we had there. I interviewed a lot of 'em to find out, and they were more than glad to get them.
You see my job was contacting all the public men connected with it. I made one trip with Mr. Scott who was then the Director for Kansas. We visited Governor Landon at Topeka and he complimented us very highly; he said that our camps were the only camps that were used during the Depression that he felt satisfied they were gettin' something done with them.
Well now, John D., you're the first man I've talked to that worked on the Shelterbelt. Can you tell me how it was organized?
It was organized by the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt; it was one of his projects to cure the Depression. They put the general headquarters at Lincoln, Nebraska. At first, Mr. Morrell, who was then in Operation in Washington, was put in charge, and Paul Roberts was taken as Assistant. Shortly after that they organized each State. Mr. Cochran, who was head of Public Relations at that time, came down to Texas and interviewed me, wanted to know if I would leave the CC and take over the Shelterbelt Project in Texas, which I did, and established headquarters at Wichita Falls. We planted the first strip near Childress, Texas. We established a nursery right near Wichita Falls and I got Roger Morris to come down and run the nursery for me. I got Ed Perry, who was then out of the Service, to come down and be my assistant. That's how he got back in the Service. And then I stayed there until June, or until May 30th, when I was asked to come in and take the public relations job at Lincoln because Cochran was going back to Denver as Chief of Forest Management. So I went in there and stayed until the thing broke up the following July.
I drew up the Bill that authorized the Shelterbelt. and made a trip Armistice Day to Amarillo to see Marvin Jones, who was then the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in Congress. I wanted him to introduce the Bill. I had a good friend at Amarillo that I had contacted during the Depression, or during the Shelterbelt work, by the name of Breed, and so I contacted him and told him I would like to see Mr. Jones; he was there visiting his mother and folks.
I said, "I imagine it will be a little bit hard to see him," and he said, "you go down and see his secretary in the Post Office, and I don't think you'll have any trouble." And so the next morning I went up there at 9 o'clock, saw his secretary and he says, "Mr. Jones is at his mother's place at home: you just go on down there."
I went down there and had breakfast with them that morning, and told him what my story was. I had the draft of the Bill that we wanted; it was less than one page after we had boiled it down. I gave it to him and he said, "That's all I need to know."
I had the editor of the Republic newspaper in Mitchell, South Dakota (he was a good friend of ours) and he told me that whenever we wanted to introduce a Bill to let him know, he had personal access to President Roosevelt because he was the one that drew up the Relief Bill, the Farm Relief Bill. So he told me that he could contact him and so we had no trouble with the Bill. It went through in no time.
Then the Shelterbelt was organized by States?
Yes. Well, it only included Texas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska. You see it was only in States west of the Hundredth Meridian. We didn't plant in Wyoming or places that were too dry. The Forest Service Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, ran a 50-year weather cycle study for the Plains States, and based on that study and moisture conditions, and depth of soil that they had figured out, we laid out the strip. It was known as the Shelterbelt Strip, and it was a strip from North Dakota clear on down to about Abilene, Texas. That was the way the Shelterbelt was organized. Each of those Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and North and South Dakota, had a Shelterbelt Director, and the planting was done under his supervision.
How did the Forest Service fit into that overall picture?
We picked all the officers: we picked all the Directors. The Forest Service Office in Lincoln was directly under Washington, you see, and they were all Forest Service officers. That's when Alva Simpson came back into the Forest Service, there at Lincoln. He was on the Shelterbelt. He was assistant to Hall for a while.
You see when I came the first time to New Mexico on an inspection trip from Washington in 1917, in July, the Grand Canyon was then under the Forest Service and I worked with Burrall down there a little bit when he was laid up, on the campground there at El Tovar. Burrall did the first work there. He and I spent a month checkin' "June 11s" on the Sitgreaves, the Tusayan, and the Coconino. That's what they called 'em then. We must've covered a hundred or two hundred cases there.
I'll say this, that the Forest homesteads on the Sitgreaves were the toughest I ever had to examine and classify, because from the pines out to the grassland, the juniper just tapered off from good-sized trees to nothing. There was no line of demarcation you could draw between what was too dry and what would grow crops. Most places there was some kind of natural line you could establish. I never had that trouble in Montana in all the work I did there. So when I came out here I told Pooler Rex King and I covered the Sitgreaves that it was one of the toughest I had hit in my tramps around the country.
Well, John D., I'd like to get back to Shelterbelts for a little bit. What kind of agreement did you make with the farmers, the landowners?
The agreement with the landowners, in the first place, authorized us to plant 17 strips, about 4 rods wide, at right angles to the prevailing wind, which was usually east and west, because the bad winds usually came from the south. The theory was that we planted shrubs on the outside edge, next to it would be taller trees, elms, and cottonwoods that we dug out of the Platte River, and then in the center line we'd put green trees as an undersetting and let the cottonwoods grow over 'em, and then we'd taper 'em on both sides. The theory was that the Shelterbelt would protect the land for twenty times its height on the opposite side from the wind, and ten times its height on the other side. So we figured that a strip 50 or 60 feet high would protect about 80 acres of land, in width. That was the theory.
Then the agreement would require them to give us permission to inspect the strip any time we wanted to, and to advise them: they would ask advice from us on any trees they wanted to take for thinning. We expected them to use the timber, and we also tried, in connection with the trees we furnished for windbreaks, to put in a series of shrubs that would furnish feed for the birds. We used the hackberry and mulberries, and different ones there.
An argument that I used with the farmers was that in the East where you didn't have to plant trees, the boys that grew up on a farm would have a nice place to live and would be willing to stay there; that out on these wide-open spaces you couldn't keep the worthwhile boys or girls to stay on the farm. They'd go somewhere else where the country was more attractive. The result was that they were developing an inferior class of people, or would eventually, and that they wouldn't be keeping the cream of the crop at home. But if you had a shelterbelt where you had nuts and trees and birds and game and shelter in a place where they could camp and play, that they would keep that class of people in the State, and in the homes, and the farms would continue in progression, instead of deteriorating and going into an inferior class of farmers.
Were the landowners receptive to that?
Very receptive to it. And after they got them they were so proud of the Shelterbelt, they would show everybody in the country. They'd bring 'em in there and show 'em.
We had two settlers just north of Mitchell, South Dakota. After we did our planting those trees grew to be nineteen feet high the first year, and every time anybody'd go anywhere near there they'd take 'em out and show 'em those strips. If they had continued the planting of Shelter belts I think it would have practically revolutionized the type of country in there.
Another thing we did, we tested the soils with a soil augur and we didn't do any planting where there wasn't at least five or six feet before you hit hardpan. We found out from the Experiment Station that it took that much land to hold enough moisture to grow the trees. The trees were planted with no watering or care whatever after they were planted, except to keep the weeds out.
Now that was purely a voluntary thing on the part of landowners?
You donated the trees?
Did they have to make any financial contribution?
No. Except donate the land. We grew our own trees; we had a nursery in Nebraska, and I had one in Texas, and Phillips, Roy Phillips, had one in Oklahoma. We had a nursery there and grew our own trees. The first year we had to buy them from a nursery and they weren't very satisfactory; they wanted to sell us too big trees.
Our best trees (elm) we figured were not over 30 inches with a stem no bigger than your little finger. Then the shock of transplanting was not great. They started the planting down in Texas and as the season progressed they wound up in North Dakota, with the same planting crew.
They organized with one man for each crew and trained 'em how to dig the hole. You walked a step and put your shovel clear down as deep as it will go, push it forward, and drop your tree; hold the shovel out and drop the tree behind the shovel. Then stomp it down. In that planting the percentage was about 87 per cent of survival.
I'd have thought that the farmers would hate to give up their croplands for the trees.
No, most of them were glad to do it.
Well, that's a pretty good picture of the Shelterbelt. Do you think of any incidents that we should record in connection with the Shelterbelt work? You must have run into many and varied things.
Well, yes, there was one case in the little town of Anson, Texas. I found the County Agent very helpful. And the County Agent there happened to be a chap by the name of Jones, and he invited me to a visit with his Council. They were having a meeting very shortly.
So I went down there and they were typical old-time farmers. I expected I'd be queried pretty heavy on it and so I told them the story, what the plan was and why we were doing it, and he said, "Well, you know what I think; if the Almighty had intended trees to grow in West Texas, He'da put 'em here." I said, "On that score, you wouldn't have wheat fields here or any farm lands. It'd still be browsed by cows, but," I said, "with our help and God's help, we can plant trees, I think, just as well as we can grow corn." And that seemed to satisfy him. That's the type of stuff you'd meet.
When you left Lands, you started in I&E?
Did you start the I&E Division?
No, it was started first by Ward Shepherd and Ed Ancona used to putter around with it, way back. And then later Cook took it over. George Cook. He was the Ranger at Tijeras. George H. Cook, he was my Assistant in I&E for a long time and he was the one that originated the motion picture trips around the country. He was running that before I took over. He had a little generator and one projector.
I remember George Russell having the Showboat.
Well, he took it over later.
There was an interesting incident came up in connection with George Russell. I had heard that he was a good shot. We went over to Pinyon and there was a group there that had been kinda troublesome, and they didn't like the Forest Service. George says, "If anything happens over here tonight, while we're showin' the picture, you turn the lights off and I'll do the rest."
I didn't know what he meant, but on the way home that night, up Weed Canyon to the Ranger Station, we were in this old Dodge truck rockin' along that road. A little skunk dropped out in the road ahead of us and George, hangin' onto the wheel with one hand, reached for his pistol with his other, and killed that skunk, shootin' him in the head. I didn't think too much of it, but we went a little further and a second skunk came out and that time I held the wheel for him, and he did it again. Then I knew what he had meant when he said, "I'll take care of 'em if you'll turn the lights off."
He and Dean Earl were two of the best in the Region. George was a surprising character. He was such a mild-looking sort of fellow; you'd've thought that he was a preacher or something.
Another interesting incident on George: We used to have a lot of trouble with the Ranger Station at Monticello in the San Mateos down here. There were a couple of Rangers driven out of there by the Mexicans. They were kind of troublesome in those days down there in that isolated village. So they sent George down there.
The first time he came into the village, as he rode in there was a bunch of boys, kids, playing out on the hill, just above the town as he rode in. There was a can dump nearby. George turned to one of the bigger boys of course he talked good Mexican so he says, "You want to see some shootin', and the boys said, "Oh sure." "Well, pick up that can over there," it was a tomato can "and throw it up into the air about 60 feet." George put two bullets through it before it hit the ground.
He never had a word said to him all the time he was Ranger there! He was extra good on propaganda; he knew just how to deal with people.
Now, in your I&E work, what was the big job?
Well, the main job was to try and keep the public informed of what the Forest Service objective was, and why we were doing certain things. For instance, the stockmen were still undecided as to whether range management was of any value. They figured they'd been in the business all their lives and they knew more about it than we did. Our job was to convince them that we had made studies and knew how much of the grass could be harvested.
I found that most of the old-timers had the idea that grass and water were indestructible; that the ground-water supply, you could pump it forever and it just replaced itself. And that the grass would replace itself; there'd never be any shortage. We finally convinced them through our studies that you could harvest Bunchgrass about 40 percent of the volume and your range would stay in good shape forever, and you could harvest up to about 60 percent of the grama grasses. It took a long time to convince those people of that.
Then the other big problem I had was on erosion. I think I did the first original work on erosion in the Region. I developed a lecture on that. It dawned on me, the problem on erosion, when I was makin' that saddle-horse trip in California. I rode up a long valley east of Salinas, up to the San Bernardino Forest, and I followed a little draw, that had been a valley stream, and I noticed that it was cut out.
I followed it for I guess twenty miles that day before I found any settlement. Then at the head of the valley there was a nice little farm and there was no erosion beyond that. It stopped, and there was water. Well, I knew something was wrong.
Then when I came down on the railroad from Portland I noticed when we came over the Stony Creek Wash that the railroad had been built up over a hump, and all that rock and gravel had come down from the Coast Range there.
Well, those things began to percolate in my mind and I began thinking about it. When I came here from Montana we had no erosion problems there. My first trip was down on the Tonto and Coronado and, with the amount of grass they had there I couldn't see why a self-respecting cow would spend her time lookin' for it. I even suggested that they close the whole Tonto Basin to grazing, because its principal purpose then was irrigation, and that the erosion was terrific.
So I developed my lecture on that. I gave it to some of the Indian pueblos. The Indian Service requested that I make a trip over to the Navajo Reservation so J. C. Nave and I made that trip and I gave this talk. At Fort Defiance, old Chee Dodge was then Chief, liked it so well that he had me give it three times and he interpreted it for me.
Before that I used to attend the meeting at the State College when they'd have their meeting in the winter. I was put on the program by Dr. Kent down there one morning, and I decided to give my erosion talk. Well, Dr. Kent got off on something and he took up quite a bit of my time, so I had to crowd mine in. I didn't have time to show the pictures that I had. At noon he picked me up and took me to Kiwanis for dinner, and he said that was the best talk made at this convention.
He said, "You folks have got a big problem." I says, "You've got a bigger problem." He looked at me kinda surprised and said, "What's that?" I said, "The State of New Mexico owns twelve million acres, and your Land Office is nothing but an accounting office; they are doing nothing to protect the land. There's no limit on the number of stock that you can put on a unit and I quoted a couple of instances that I knew about.
He says, "By Golly, you're right. I'm gonna do something about it." So he called in his range men that he had there and they set out a little experiment station right there at the College farming land. I told him that he could see ours on the Jornado right nearby, and get a lot of information from that.
Later, when we started the program of the CCs putting in these check dams, I went down and looked over the one at Silver City and the work on that watershed over there. Fortunately, the Forest Service had fenced that area two years before that, and a year after they'd put in those little check dams the old spring on the farm up there started running. It had been dry for several years. So that showed that the water had all been running down the wash through town.
Fleming took over that work and he came in and talked to me one day in the office here about it. I told him the only problem in solving the erosion on the range lands was a reduction in grazing; that a check dam, all that did was stop the erosion until the dam filled up and then it ran over and it was worse than it was before, that unless you had enough grass by the time the dam filled up that you didn't need it, why your work was all wasted.
He still thought the check dams were the stuff. He was flying to a range meeting up at Fort Collins cross-country. I told him, when you're going over, look at this Galistea area there and you'll see those fingers just coming in all over, every one of 'em's building an arroyo, and it's drainin' water out of the country that should be feedin' the grass. He looked at me kinda skeptical; I knew he didn't believe it. So when he came back he came up to the office and he looked pretty near all out of breath and he says, "You're dead right; that's the problem."
So I worked on that here for I think that was probably the most important thing I did in the public relations field at that time.
I suppose there was a selling job to our own people?
Oh, absolutely. One incident on that, in 1922 when I first started. Nels Field, he was a half-Mex from Magdalena, with the State Land Commission. I went into his office there and I said, "Nels, you grew up, didn't you, down near Magdalene," and I says, "Was the Rio Solado and the Rio Puerco a big wash then like it is now?"
He says, "Well, no," he says. "There wasn't anything. As a boy I used to drive our sheep, we'd drive 'em up and follow the wagon up the Puerco, and there wasn't any arroyos anywhere along the Puerco. You could drive the full length of it. "Now," he says, "By Golly, it's 30 feet deep banks there." I said, "Well, there were little groves of trees, you remember there at those groves, if you dug a little hole, there'd be a little seep and you'd water your sheep." He said, "Yes."
I said, "You'd take 'em out on the west side one day, bring 'em home at night." "Yeah, and the next day you'd take 'em out on the other side and you d bring 'em home, and you'd stay there all summer. By the end of the summer there wasn't any grass there. And then the slope was like a tin roof and the water would all slide in and it'd start cuttin'." He said, "Heck, how did you know that?"
I said, "All you have to do is look at the country and you can see." Then he said the floods would come down and gouge out holes, skip a ways and dig another hole and every year the holes would get bigger, and pretty soon the whole thing would sluff off. So I had that as evidence from an actual man. He didn't know what was happening; but he knew it had happened because he saw it.
I sent a memo in to the investigator's committee; I imagine it's lost in the files, in which I made a statement that I had read all of the engineering publications in Arizona and New Mexico that I could get hold of, on flooding and erosion, and that I yet had never found a single person who had thought about what was causing it. All they were thinking about was putting in some kind of structures in the way of dams, to stop it. But the reason they were having those floods, never occurred to them: that the land had been overgrazed.
I guess you were in Lands near the start of the special use business.
Oh yes. It was a brand new thing. Another thing, at the start we had just a little thin Use Book and it was much nicer than the big thick ones they got later because you used your own judgment in settling things. Sometimes you might not settle 'em just right, but you got it done, without any red tape.
Well, was there quite a demand for special uses?
No, it was rather limited in those days. They, most people, there was more camping done then than there is now, and you didn't have the roads.
Now, the first trip I made in Region 3 was interesting. Ward Shepherd, Ed Ancona and I made a trip down to Carrizozo and went on to the top of the Oscuras. They had originally been in the Forest, but Senator Bursom had 'em thrown out. After he found out it was worthwhile to have ranges inside the Forests, that you got protection, he wanted it put back in.
So we went down there and looked it over and recommended that it be included, and all of the Chupadera Mesa along with it. Part of that was already in. But Albert Fall was then Secretary of the Interior and of course he killed it. He wasn't gonna do anything that would add anything to a National Forest.
We went down; Shepherd had a little Chevy; we drove that car all over down there. We drove it to the foot of the mountain and then walked to the top and looked it over. Of course Putsch had had a homestead down there when he first came out to New Mexico. I'm wrong: it was Putsch that was with us instead of Ancona. Then we came back up through Tajique. That was down the canyon into the Ranger Station, from what's Highway 10 now. Then you just went down the creek. You crossed there. Then we came up to the Doc Long cabin. It was there then, and the little Ranger Station at Tijeras. We then went around La Madera and came up Las Huertas, crossed that creek about ten times and got up to the Ellis ranch and looked that over, and then we came back in here. That was my first field trip in New Mexico.
John D., what about the Wilderness system?
Well, the Wilderness System started in the Gila. I think Leopold was working on that. I wrote the first, as Chief of Lands, I wrote the first Plan, you might say; the first limitations of what we would do. Ray Marsh signed it with me, as Chief of Forest Management: it was about a paragraph and a half long. We made it fairly simple because we didn't know just how far we could go so we left it so it could be amended later on. As far as I know, that's in the file. It was the first thing that was ever written in this Region, officially, on Wilderness Areas.
Was the Gila Wilderness the first one?
That was the first one.
In the Service?
Then later the Pecos came in. The Washington Office had more or less established the outlines for the Pecos. But the Gila was the first one: the outline was prepared here and signed by the Regional Forester.
And Leopold was the man who was behind this and pushed it?
No, he was always arguing for it, but Shepherd was just as much in it as he was, Ward Shepherd.
Mr. C. A. Merker is a Pennsylvania product. He grew up in Pittsburgh, and graduated in Forestry from Penn. State. While going to College, Heinie spent his summers working in District 3, primarily in timber work. Upon graduation in 1923 he came to the Coconino, and has been in District (Region) 3 continuously since, except for details. Heinie was interviewed at his home in Santa Fe. His story starts with his first Ranger District.
Where was your first district?
Show Low. The old Show Low Ranger Station; it's now, of course, gone. Following that I was on a timber sale over at Pinedale, the Standard sale.
Were you in charge of that sale?
Yes. When Zalaha was there. He finally went to Mexico. I believe.
From the Standard sale, where did you go?
I went into the office on the Sitgreaves. I went from the Sitgreaves to the Carson, as Assistant. That was when Stan Wilson left the Carson. Carroll Dwire became Supervisor and I came in as his assistant. Stayed there fifteen years.
And you were then on the Carson as Supervisor.
Until 1941, when I went to Tucson.
And you were Supervisor there until....
Until '51. Then I came here to Santa Fe.
Well, there was another little session in between there, between '41 and '51 I went down to Costa Rica you know. Spent almost a year there. We went first to do a job for the Army Engineers building that Pan-America Highway, in order to protect the Canal. They didn't have any steel or concrete to build their bridges, so they used native timbers to build their structures. Nobody down there knew anything about the timber. So they got together our crew and we went down to advise the Army Engineers as to what timbers would be durable and which ones would not; and which ones had strength and which ones didn't. So they had reasonably stable structures.
Then we got into the box-making deal for the Inter-American Affairs outfit that were raising and shipping fruit to our forces in Panama. Then we got into the cruising of balsa timber for the War Production Board, and we had quite a time.
Then they began to realize that it was less important to determine what the carrying capacity of the range was than the potential capacity, if it were given reasonable range management. That's when the big improvement started.
Now when was that?
During the War. I guess it was in '42, or '43. They didn't replace me down at Tucson. They just used what help they had there. On that crew down there they had a tropical forester, a botanist, a wood technologist out of the Laboratory, to make up the force.
That must've been an interesting detail.
It was. Nice climate there as Hugh Calkins described it when he first asked me to go down there. Hugh said the year round it's like spring weather in Washington. You know what that is.
Well, Heinie, have you had occasion to go back again and see some of your early markings for Standard or some of those sales that you administered?
Some of it: not too much. Speaking of going back and seeing and remembering things, one thing that strikes me the most in lookin' back over the country that I had known previously is how much better condition it's in range-wise than it was. Just everywhere I go, things are much, much better. Just much better. Well, even this summer I made a little trip over the Carson through a piece of country that used to be in pretty rough shape, and I was amazed at how well it looks now. It was beautiful. No comparison.
Then you'd say that our range policy has been pretty sound?
Sounder than they were at one time, let me put it that way. They've improved tremendously. There was a time when both our policies and our approach to range management were pretty sorry. The big improvement came when the biologists, let me put it that way, took over from the mathematicians. If you recall the old range reconnaissance system; I don't know how the formula went multiply acreage by density by palatability, divided by forage-acre requirement, whatever the formula was. There was a time when the Forestry people took that as Bible, you know; that was it. You struck to that figure regardless of what the country looked like.
Then there was a time, too, when some of the leaders in the Forest Service were influenced tremendously by the livestock industry. I remember telling Woody a story one time Woodhead (Regional Forester). I'm not gonna mention any names, but I told him the story.
Following one of the big Senate investigations of the Forest Service range management, no less than the Chief called all the Forest Officers in attendance at that hearing into his hotel room after the thing was over, and here are almost the very words he used. He said, "Now, I'm talking particularly to you Forest Supervisors. If you Forest Supervisors can't get along with these stockmen without having letters come in to the Secretary, and without having letters come to me, and without all this fuss being kicked up all the time, by Jiminy, I can find Forest Supervisors who can." Woody wouldn't believe it. He said, "I just can't believe the Chief would say a thing like that." But he came back several months later and he said, "I verified what you told me," he says, "I asked Earl Loveridge and he verified it." Did you ever hear that one before?
No, I never heard that one.
Well, you know what happened. We started making progress with Woody. There were two things that bogged range management down in this Region. That was one of them, and the other was that mathematical formula. It didn't make sense without looking at the range itself.
I remember on the Carson, we had a re-reconnaissance; remember we were doing re-reconnaissance in the Thirties. And that range up above San Antone, toward the boundary of the Forest on the north, we had a re-reconnaissance on that, and the figure came out nearly double what it had been. You know, I had the biggest argument over that figure, with Range Management in Albuquerque. They insisted that I make that a record in the books and proceed to stock to it, and I just flatly refused to stock to it.
I said, "I'll put it in the books, but I'm not going to increase the stocking on that range, because it's just not there." They finally agreed to let me do that. I put the figures in the books, so somebody else could come along and stock to it, I presume. But I never did increase the stock. In fact, we cut it down.
Now, you asked me to look back; I could go back to a lot of those ranges, and they're just so much better.
Remember the road from the Grand Canyon to Cameron, along the Rim? Well, in the early Twenties I went through there, and the Grand Canyon Company was runnin' cattle in there, and literally, it looked as if a fire had gone through there: wasn't a blade of grass, wasn't an oak leaf in reach of a cow, not one. It was just as though you had gone through there with a blowtorch and burned every leaf off of every tree, every oak tree, in reach of a cow. Well, it doesn't look that way now. That range mostly is in pretty good shape.
Another thing I recall, distinctly, is markin' timber: there was an almost constant odor of sheep bed-grounds. Everywhere you went there was dung six or eight inches deep, all along the tops of those ridges. You could smell it all over the Forest. I'm sure it isn't that way now. So, if you ask me, we've made tremendous progress everywhere I look. Some people wouldn't agree with me on that.
Another evidence of much better conditions; when I first saw the Rio Pueblo, and Taos Creek on the Carson, there wasn't a willow, or an alder, or a young cottonwood anywhere along those streams, not a one. There were a few big ones, but no little ones, Now, both of those creeks are jungles: alders, willows, young cottonwoods. Evidence of reduction in pressure . . .
Heinie, do you recall any of your stories, or any of the incidents that have been of outstanding significance to you? Big fires that you were on, or anything like that?
The Los Alamos fire, that was very interesting. the fire wasn't so big but it was made into a big thing. I first saw that fire from the backyard here when it started over there. Immediately I recognized that we were in trouble, or could be in trouble when we found out it was on Los Alamos lands. I sent Leon Hill to advise them. Well, he spent the afternoon over there advising them: they all the time trying to put the thing out and didn't know how to go about it. Finally I went over.
Just about the time I landed there, they came to the conclusion that they had a bull by the tail. In the meantime, stories got out that the town was threatened. That story got back to the Washington Office and the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission), and they established a "hot line" between Washington and the office up here. Then Albuquerque got hold of it, and they sent the whole staff up from down there!
Well, toward evening the Powers That Be over there at Los Alamos came to me and said, "Now look, we don't know how to fight forest fires. How about you taking this thing over?" "Well," I said, "Who's gonna pay the bills?" "Oh, we'll pay the bills; don't worry about that. Just put the fire out."
So I got hold of Otto Lindh (Regional Forester) on the telephone and told him about it, and he hotfooted it up there, and Mayhew Davis (Chief of Operation) came up; Oh, everybody came up. They even made a written agreement between the AEC and themselves as to who was gonna pay for what.
The head of the technical services, Bradbury, stayed up the whole night. About every half hour he would come up to our headquarters wantin' to know for sure that fire wasn't gonna get across that highway, that runs north and south. He didn't explain what was on the other side of the highway, but every time a spark would go over there, everything was turned loose to get on that spot fire.
I found out later that it was some sort of explosive stuff down there: what it was I still don't know. But he was sure concerned that the fire was gonna get across that highway and get into the technical area. I guess all Hell would have broken loose if it had. We finally got the fire under control the next afternoon. Everybody and his dog were up there, including all sorts of Indians.
One funny incident occurred. After the thing was all over well, first I should say that everybody that came in through the gates, including fire fighters and Indians, were registered and their names taken and they were given a badge. There was one person that got in there that didn't have one of those things. How he got in, nobody could ever find out, but he had a devil of a time getting out. They had no record of him; he had no badge and it was Dahl Kirkpatrick (Chief of Timber Management)!
That fire wasn't so very big. But one interesting thing about it was, who started it? It seems that they were planning to build a Boy Scout camp up there. They inspected a site where there was a pile of old slabs and they wanted to get rid of the slabs I think the thing was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club this Boy Scout camp. And some of the big shots in the Kiwanis, one of 'em was the fire chief, he got in with the manager of the city for the AEC, those two with another man and boy were up there in the morning and set this slab fire off. Or rather at night; they stayed all night and set it off in the evening, that was it.
They stayed all night, watching it burn. Then when morning came it was pretty well burned up, and they left this one man and the boy there, to watch it. They went on to the spring there to get some water. When they got back the wind had come up and Boy, it threw a spark out, and away she'd gone, Well, the fire chief and the manager of the city had set the thing off. Boy, were their faces red!
The thing about going back is that there's twice the personnel now on one ranger district than there was in the whole Supervisor's office, back in the 1920s. When I went to the Carson there were four people in the office: the Supervisor, myself, a clerk and a book keeper. Now, in some Ranger Districts, there are, oh golly, 10, 15, or 20 permanent employees.
Of course, the situation is different.
Of course: business has increased tremendously and pressures have increased, too.
Your interest in conservation: we've paid a lot of lip service to watershed management, but it's only been in the last few years that we really took hold and did something with it.
That's right. I think there's a pretty good reason for that. We didn't know enough about it. Research hadn't given us very many answers. Now I think we're beginning to get some. We had a few answers as a result of a little early work that was done down there on the Tonto, and some up in Colorado, and some in the East, but there were a lot of answers we didn't have for a good many years. We're only beginning to get them.
So maybe the thing will work out, as it did with Range Management. Maybe we'll begin to recognize the biology of some of these things, and then we'll get some answers: get some results.
I'm afraid that in Timber Management we have lost the squirrel in the pine type by not recognizing the danger of these tremendously heavy stands of young timber. What we can do about it, I don't know, but something needs to be done about it.
Do you think it's our marking policy?
No, it's not a matter of marking policy. It's what nature does to us in the absence of fire. But what we can do to replace fire. I don't know. These pine forests grow up after fire, natural fire, to a point where, without the control of fire . . , they burned over. I'm sure. What did that study down there on the Apache Reservation show, that it was burned over every eight years? Weaver showed it burned over on a average of every eight years.
Well, we controlled the fires, and nature took hold of the reproduction, and it has created a situation that we haven't solved.
Don't you think this pulp business might help?
Oh, I doubt; well, it might help some.
Well if you had it to do over again, would you choose the Forest Service for your career?
Oh, I think so; I've had a happy official life and a happy personal life. Actually I think there are only two jobs in the Forest Service that you might say are ideal. One of them is the Ranger, and the other is the Forest Supervisor. Aside from that, they can have 'em.
Yes, I knew you felt that way; I've heard you say that before.
Well, the Regional Forester's job is all right, but they don't pay enough for the headaches they have. It's a tremendously big challenge and they don't pay anywhere near enough for the job.
You know, I've always said that we require our Rangers to be Supermen, and our Supervisors more so.
And our Regional Foresters even more so.
Yes. I wonder if you have any recollections about the attitude of the grazing permittees, and the changes that have taken place during the period of your administration?
Well, I would say that that varies tremendously, by Forests. On some of the Forests, particularly the Coronado, a lot of the livestock people down there were beginning to recognize what our outfit has been advocating: If you have reasonably good range conditions you're gonna produce more meat than you would by grazing the range to a pulp. That was being recognized more and more and more down there on that Forest. On the other Forests, I don't know.
That was because they were more progressive down there, and are better businessmen?
Well, for one thing they had bigger investments in their outfits. I guess the work that Matt Cully did down there helped to promote that idea to a considerable extent, because he was very friendly with all of those permittees. They admired him, and through the work that had been done at that Experiment Station, they were able to show that actually it paid dividends to stock sore reasonably. For one thing you had more calves, and when you came to sell 'em they were a hundred pounds or more heavier, and you didn't take the chance of being caught short during dry years: you could ride out the dry years better.
All those things put together they were beginning to recognize down there.
Now, on a forest like the Santa Fe, where we have a bunch of little permittees all together on one range, to talk about better range management, it's almost hopeless to convince anybody that instead of running ten cows they ought to run eight, you know. You can't get anywhere with that kind of a set-up. You can't sell it to them because ten cows are two more than eight cows. And if you cut 'em down one, on ten head, why that's ten percent.
Mr. Harold Hulbert is a second-generation Forester. His father, Cliff Hulbert, and his uncle, Ben Nabours, were both early-day Forest officers. With such a background, it was only natural that Hal should join the Forest Service. He took the ranger examination at Silver City in 1922. The next spring he received an appointment as Forest Ranger on the Spring Valley District of the Tusayan National Forest, where he remained for eight years. Then he was transferred to the Mazatzal Ranger District on the Tonto, where he remained for thirteen years. He transferred from a Ranger District to roads work on the Tonto and remained there until he retired from the Service in 1956. Hal was interviewed in Payson, Arizona. His story starts with a question about his first district on the old Tusayan National Forest.
Were the ranges fenced into allotments in those days?
No, just posted. They had sheep and cattle together on a lot of 'em, dual use. On some we just had cattle, and on some we just had sheep, but there were a whole lot of 'em that had sheep and cattle both, on that bunchgrass up there.
Was there trouble between sheepmen and cattlemen?
Well, they argued a whole lot but of course, cattle and sheep both ate the little pine trees off, and each one accused the other one of chewing them off. Actually, when they separated 'em, the sheep didn't do much damage, the pine trees grew pretty well on the sheep allotment and the cattle range was chewed off.
Once I found a gun down there under a pinon tree, a .38 Colt rifle, the only one I ever saw or heard of. It was a pump action one. It was in pretty good shape after I cleaned it up. It was just sitting up against that pinon tree. How long it had been there, I don't know. It was in the thicket there along the boundary fence. I guess when they built the fence they just missed it somehow. I don't know who got away with that; somebody did.
I should have saved some of those old signs. I had a lot of 'em, old cross-sheep signs, old sheep allotment boundary signs. We had a little stencil outfit and we'd stamp it on with ink. Then the squirrels would come along and eat 'em all up! Then we got some tin ones after that; they lasted longer.
I wonder whatever happened to those oak trees that Alexander (Ranger at Roosevelt) was planting around, Cork oak, I helped him plant a lot of them up in Greenback and at other places.
He was sure interested in them, all right.
Did you ever hear if they did any good?
Well, some of them grew. The little oaks were growing, up there, but I don't know whether they stayed with it or not. I don't know whether I could even find any of them now or not. I planted a bunch of 'em down there in Tonto Basin but they didn't do very good there. They came up and grew a little bit, and then they died. The soil wasn't right, or something.
Alexander did a lot of interesting things like that; he was quite an experimenter.
When I first went into the Forest Service, or quite a while after that, in '25, I think it was, we gathered trespass horses on the Tusayan. Some of 'em were hard to get. We hired a fellow by the name of Brown, and all the rest of the crew were Rangers. We had quite a crew of wild-horse gatherers; there was Moose, and Tracy Rice, and Shorty Auman, and we had another Ranger with us but now I can't remember who it was. We shipped eight or ten carloads of horses off of there, at two and a half a head.
You made a good gather. Were all of 'em branded?
Some of 'em were branded, but they were all trespass horses.
Mr. Perl Charles spent his boyhood days in Alamogordo, New Mexico. After a time at the U. S. Naval Academy, Perl started work on the Lincoln National Forest as a Guard, and later as an Assistant Ranger. He was transferred to the Santa Fe as Assistant Ranger on the Pecos District is 1923, where he worked with John W. Johnson, an outstanding Ranger and one of the best woodsmen in the Service. Perl was interviewed at his home in Phoenix. His story starts with his first ranger District.
In the spring of '24, I moved to Espanola and worked under Earl Moore for a few months and then took charge of what they called the Santa Clara Ranger District at Espanola. Most of that District, I believe, is now in the Los Alamos Atomic Energy area. It was a pretty busy District in those days. They had three sawmills, and lots of activity going on.
From the Use Book - 1908. "Eventually all the rangers who serve the year around will be furnished with comfortable headquarters."
Where did you have the big horse hunt you told me about one time, when you killed a lot of burros?
Well, in 1929 we moved to Cuba, and we lived there for a few months. They were building a new Ranger Station at Jemez Springs. We moved to Cuba in March, I believe, and the Supervisor, Frank Andrews (he was a wonderful man) said, "We'll have that new Ranger Station ready about the first of July and you can move down there." The first of July came along and I asked him about it, and he said, "We didn't get the money we thought we would. We have the walls up on the Ranger Station, and we have part of the roof on it, and we have the plumbing in. If you want a place to live, you and your assistant will have to finish it." So we did.
Later on we had some complaints about the carpenter work, but it was about the first carpenter work I ever did. Jim Curry was the assistant. He and I had to finish the Ranger Station because they ran out of money. That was a very interesting District. I stayed there until 1935.
There was a fellow named Dick Wetherill who later became my assistant, or Administrative Guard, as they called them then. He was a natural woodsman; he spoke Spanish as well as he did English, and Navajo just as well.
When they finally came up with this system under which we could gather those horses, or round them up, and finally got the Forest boundaries fenced, around 1952, we started in on the horses. We took over 1500 head of horses off of that one District. We rounded up about half of them and sold them and killed the rest of them. Killing was something I didn't have much heart for, but you'd go out and run a good horse down tryin' to round 'em up. You'd finally get yourself in a frame of mind to go out and shoot 'em. That was an interesting District.
Did you have many timber sales on that District?
Oh yes, the Hughes Brothers had a timber sale in the San Juan Canyon. Lou Caldwell had a timber sale there; Lou was an interesting fellow. He and his brothers were a family of Russian boys; wonderful people. They later went to California in the timber sale business. The big business on that District was grazing. We took care of fires on the Baca Location, and we had to work with fires on the San Diego Grant because they would burn toward us.
Did Angus Fedderson work for you there?
Oh yes, Angus Fedderson and Jim Curry, all the work we could give 'em until the CCC camp came along. Then they could get more money in the CC Camp they were experienced men they went in the CC camp.
We had a couple of mules one time, Government mules, and Angus was ridin' one we called Old Maude, and he met a skunk in the trail, and he and Maude parted company and he had to walk home!
I'd like to mention one interesting thing: There was a fellow named Bert Pfingsten who had the Ranger District next to mine when I was at Espanola. This Pfingsten was a very interesting man now this is going back a little bit. When I was at Espanola this Pfingsten had the old Bland Ranger District, and at that time we also had the Bandelier National Monument. Bert and I were always figuring projects where we could get together. So one time we had to post the game refuge line around the Bandelier National Monument somewhere I don't remember just where it was. We had to put a strip of black paint, then a strip of yellow paint.
I took a pack horse and Bert took two pack mules and we were to bring certain things to stay over there for a week. Bert had the paint on this white mule and the mule got scared and bucked the pack off and spilled the black paint on one end and the yellow paint on the other. He scattered the groceries all over the hillside. When we went back to pick up the potatoes, we found everything but the baking powder. He was to bring the baking powder and the flour, and I took enough bread to last two or three days. We stayed over there ten days, or something like that, and when we ran out of bread we had to make biscuits without baking powder, flapjacks, and they weren't very good.
Another time we caught a little cub bear, this Bert Pfingsten and I. It was one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. We were riding along and we saw this little bear climbing a tree, and Bert said, "Let's stop and get him." I said, "I haven't lost any bear." Well, Bert wanted him. There was a permittee with us by the name of Pedro Garcia. We were up there with Pedro. We were tryin' to teach him even in those days that is, 1924, '25, or '26 we were even then tryin' to get our permittees to salt out where the feed was. We were workin on this permittee when we found the bear.
Bert says, "I'll go up and get him; you stay down here and keep the old bear away. Well, in those days everybody carried a gun; I don't know why, but we did. Bert got about half-way up the tree. I had a little .32 automatic and I fired it a couple of times. Bert said, "What's the matter?" I said, "I think the old bear's comin'." He says. "Don't let her come up here!"
Well, I waited a minute or two and I fired this gun a couple of times again and said, "I don't think I can stop her." He said, "Well, I think I can jump out into this little white fir tree over here." Well, then I burst out laughin' and he knew I was kiddin'. So he went to the top of the tree and this little bear went just as far as he could.
Bert had a little pigging line and he tried to slip it over the bear's head, and the bear would knock it off. So he climbed up just a little bit higher and grabbed the bear by the hind leg and says, "I got him!" I was standing out where I could see him, and about the time he yelled, "I've got him," the bear got him! He just reached down and caught him on the wrist. Bert yanked gave quite a pull when the bear bit him, and pulled the bear out of the tree. And here he came, right down through the branches on this white fir tree. He hit the ground and the first time it looked like he bounced about six feet high and the second time about half as high, and away he went, but he was a little groggy.
I had a little rope so I flipped it over his head and pulled him up. He turned around and looked at me. He was just about so high, and he said, "GRRRR," and here he came! I thought I could sidestep him, you know, and yank him around again. I started to sidestep him and I don't know what happened. I had my boots, spurs, chaps, everything on. I probably tripped over a spur or something. I fell down and as I started to fall I thought, "Well, I may as well get this over with," and I just made a header for that bear. I'm tellin' you, I wrestled that darned bear all over that little flat there. Talk about the cat and the bird; we really tore that place up!
This fellow Bert Pfingsten was up in the tree watchin', he was having the time of his life. I'll never forget when I finally got that little bear choked down. I took a deep breath and looked up and here was this Mexican fellow, Pedro Garcia, and he laughed at me. He had his shirt collar open, and the tears were running down his face and were runnin' down his neck. He said, "You're crazy."
Bert came on down and we put the bear in a sack and he said, "Who's gonna carry him?" I said, "Well, I just don't need that bear, that's all there is to it." He said, "Maybe I can carry him on Old Buck." Well, he couldn't get Old Buck near him. I was holdin' the bear. Finally Bert got back about 30 yards and yelled, "I'll run by you and when I do, throw me the bear." So he got up all the speed he could on that old horse and when he come by I heaved him the bear, and he caught him. About that time Old Buck got his head down that was one of the funniest days I ever had in the Forest Service. I'm tellin' you, Bert rode him all the way and took that little bear home.
He had it down at the Bland Ranger Station, chained to a tree. They were feeding him in a little bowl and that little bear, after a week or ten days, you'd go out there in the morning and he'd bring his bowl to you and wanted you to put some food in. Bert told me, or sent me word last Christmas, that that bear was still in the Albuquerque Zoo; they finally gave him to the Zoo down there.
How was the situation with regard to grazing permittees up on the Santa Fe?
Oh Lord, I don't know. This fellow Johnson he was the Ranger on the Pecos District. When he first went there he started reducing the permits. Then a bunch of fellows came out and had a range reconnaissance and we reduced it some more, but we didn't have much control until in the early Thirties when they finally got the boundary fenced. This, mind you, was the Forest boundary. That's when we took the horses off.
Those people were Spanish-American people and we could talk their language and be patient with them and we could talk most of them into giving things a try. I know that they had better salting on the Santa Fe Forest on all those allotments 35 or 40 years ago than we do now on some of the allotments in Arizona where we have progressive stockmen. I don't know; sometimes I wonder if salting is much of a factor. It's been a controversial thing for a long time.
The only problem we really had with the stockmen was there were just a few of them then was the horses, those trespass horses, they belonged to a very few men. When we started killing horses, some of the cattlemen started killing them too, and we got blamed for it, of course. We had some pretty close shaves with those fellows. There was nothing we could do but try to talk 'em out of it, and personally, I had a lot of experience with that. I couldn't run very fast and I wasn't big enough to fight, so I had to talk 'em out of it.
A fellow by the name of Joe Rodriquez was the Ranger on the Coyote District. He was a wonderful man. His father-in-law was an ornery old cuss. He was sent to the pen for killing a man, and he finally was killed by a Deputy Sheriff. I remember we had a bunch of horses up there in Rock Creek and he went in there into the corral. I said, "What are you doin' in there, Manuel?" He said, "I'm gonna get my horses." I said, "You can't get 'em," and he said, "I am." So I just walked out in the middle of the corral there with him.
There were a couple of dozen of Coyote natives and they all had their weapons of one sort or another. There were about three or four of us there was nothin' for me to do but talk them out of it. I just stood out there in the middle of the corral and argued with that guy, musta been two hours. Finally I said, "You can take your horses, the horses you want, and they'll be $3.00 apiece," or whatever the cost was. He said, "I don't have three dollars." I said, "I'll give you a job and you can work it out." And that's the way we settled it. I gave him a job in camp; he didn't do anything but he stayed around long enough to work it out.
We had a lot more freedom in those days. You could collect the money right there and usually we could pay those fellows. You could pay your own expenses. Now of course every thing has to go through channels. Life was much more simple then.
After you got into Santa Fe, what kind of work were you doing?
You know, by golly, I was doin' everything in those days. There were two fellows in there. Louie Cottam, I worked with him for years. I never worked with a nicer fellow. Then there was a fellow by the name of Jack Roak.
You worked with Louie a lot.
Louie was Assistant Supervisor on the Santa Fe for several years, when I was Ranger out at Jemez Springs. When I later moved to the Cibola Forest, he was Assistant Supervisor there, and I worked with him again for three or four years.
I started to tell you, when I moved to Santa Fe, Louie was in there for just about one week I guess I'm getting ahead of my story, but it's very interesting anyhow the way they handled things in those days. Here was this fellow, Frank Andrews, whom I had worked under from 1925 'til '35 at that time, a very stern man, but you couldn't find a fairer man. I was going to go to the Carson, on the staff. Mr. Andrews called me up and he said, "I want to talk to you. I want you to meet me in Albuquerque. I have a proposition."
So I went to Albuquerque and here was my friend, Johnson, the Ranger from Pecos, whom I regarded so highly. Mr. Andrews got me off alone and he said, "Louie Cottam is goin' to the Shelterbelt with Paul Roberts. Jack Roak is already leaving Jack was the other assistant to go to a CC Camp." He said, "I'm high and dry; I know you're scheduled to go to Taos." He said, "I thought perhaps you'd just as soon go to Santa Fe, if I can work it out." He said, "I think the school situation may be a little better there and I know that's something you have to consider." But he said, "The first thing I'm gonna do is to offer this job to John Johnson, if he wants it." He says, "He's entitled to it. But if he doesn't want it and I don't think he does I want you to take it, if you will." But he says, "I just want you fellows together, so you'll know just how it is." So I knew.
Then we went in to see Stanley Wilson, who was Chief of Operations, and also Chief of Personnel, and the Fire Chief, and a whole bunch of other things, at that time. Mr. Andrews told Stan his troubles. Stan says, "Well, John, what do you think about it?" John said, "I'm perfectly happy where I am, if you'll let me stay there." Stan says, "That's all right with me, I couldn't think of a man that's doin' a better job. I'll tell you something else: If you want to stay there I'm gonna try pretty hard to increase your salary to where it will be commensurate with some of these staffmen."
So Stan says, "How about you, Perl?" I said, "It's up to Mr. Andrews; whatever he wants. He's the boss. I've worked for him for years. If I can help him, why that's the deal." "OK," he said. "Now I've got to get this straightened out with Heinie Merker." He was Supervisor of the Carson. So he called him up and he and Heinie finally got the whole thing straightened out.
But that was the reason I said I did everything, because for a period of two or three years there I was the only staffman on the Santa Fe. We had three CC camps, and a transient camp in addition to our normal work. You know yourself that a brand-new staffman, the first six months or so he's in there, he doesn't accomplish too much. The reason Mr. Andrews wanted me in there was because at least I was acquainted with most of the Forest. I'd worked on it, on a good part of the Santa Fe.
I never knew a man in the Forest Service or anyplace else that I had a higher regard for than I had for Frank Andrews. That was one of the best men I ever knew in my life and one of the crankiest. He came over there one time to the south side of the Baca Location and wanted to put an emergency lookout on Rabbit Mountain. I didn't have a packhorse. We had a bunch of World War I telephone wire. He said, "Well, get a packhorse and pack it up there." So I said, "All right," and I met him down there.
Well, we had trouble with the packhorse and I was a little late. So he wasn't in a very good humor. He said. "Aw, I'll go on; I'll meet you up on top of the mountain." He started off, then he came back and said, "Can you put this on the pack, too?" I said, "Certainly, what is it?" And he said, "That's my lunch." Well, I thought he was makin' a mistake, but he was the boss. Who was I to question him? That was the first year I was on the Espanola District.
Instead of getting up there at noon, as he thought I would, I got there about dark. Well, he says. "I don't feel very good; I've got a headache. Do you have enough outfit with you that I can stay all night?" I said, "Yes, I think so." So we hobbled our horses and I built a fire and was stirring around there to fix us a bit to eat. Finally he says. "Where's your coffee?" I said, "Mr. Andrews, I don't drink it and when I'm by myself, I don't carry it." He said, "Well, I'll be God-damned!"
He never said another word; he turned around and went out and got that old bay horse, saddled him up and went down the canyon in the dark; didn't even say good-bye, or anything. I thought my Forest Service career was ended right there. In later years I could kid him about it. He said, "Oh, it wasn't the coffee altogether. That was pretty much of a hen-skin outfit you had there anyway," he said. "I didn't like the looks of it."
That Santa Fe is a very interesting Forest; it had everything. In later years, when I moved to Santa Fe as I said, I was the only staffman there and it kept me pretty busy I took up skiing. I had to do something with my boys. We got up a little ski area in Hyde Park. Then we had what is called the Basin Cabin, where they have a chair-lift now I believe. We used to go up there in the fall and cut a little firewood and store some groceries, and leave some bedding there. Then in the spring, after we'd had a little thaw and we'd have a good crust on that snow, we used to pack in there. I've taken all my boys in there. In fact, I've stayed overnight in that little twelve by fourteen cabin with six boys, and they darned near drove me nuts. Then we'd go from there to the top of Santa Fe Baldy.
Ranger Johnson and I used to go up to Beatty's cabin in the wintertime. I've been all over the head of the Pecos on skis in the wintertime. We'd count the elk, or try to count 'em, and find out where they were and where they weren't that was the main excuse. The Game Department men went with us; they participated in the count. We used to have wonderful times up there. It's a lovely country.
What was the hunting situation? Were they hunting elk up there at that time?
When I first went there, they weren't. I think they took those elk in there in 1913; 60 head, or something like that. In the Thirties they started hunting 'em, on a limited basis, and then they began increasing. There was a tremendous variation in the estimates of the number of elk they had. This fellow Johnson had it pretty close and then the game experts came out and convinced him that he was too low. Then he raised the numbers up to 3,000 or 4,000 or something like that, and then they started hunting on that basis and got into trouble. We didn't have 'em. That number was away high. I don't know how many they had; I haven't got the figures.
The interesting thing about that country; I was the Assistant Ranger and worked at the head of the Pecos River in 1923 under John Johnson. In 1953 30 years later I went back up there with him. We stayed at Beatty's cabin. We wandered around just 30 years later. The one difference that you could notice was that the parks were getting smaller and smaller. The conifers and the aspens the small trees were so much larger. It was a long ways from the open country that it was in the 1920s; unless something is done, I don't know what the answer is. Fortunately, there are some smart men worrying about it, too. They'll figure out something.
Were there sheep and cattle both in the Upper Pecos?
Was there much of a conflict among them, or were you pretty well in control of the situation?
It wasn't too much of a problem in the Upper Pecos. We used to have minor problems. The sheep would get over on the cattle range and we'd go over and raise a fuss and the sheepmen, sometimes they'd even pay a trespass. You know, in those days a Ranger could assess a trespass fee against a permittee and collect it in cash and turn it in. I remember I did that once; I assessed a fee of $50 against a sheepherder and his boss came over and paid it and said, "Don't get excited about it." I was a little sore, because there wasn't any need for the fellow to do it. "Don't get excited," he said, "You know lots of times the only difference between a good sheepherder and a bad one is how much range he can steal." I thought that was pretty good. Frank Bond was his name.
Joe Rodriquez and I held a joint roundup on horses one time. We started up in San Pedro Park and had a bunch of horses there and then moved over to the south side of his District, then went back to the Baca Location, and finally got a few of the Baca Location horses, too. About 400 head there in one bunch. We got 'em that far and when we got over there he said, "I quit." He said, "I'm goin' home; this is your side of the outfit."
Those fellows would come up there and buy those horses for a dollar or two a head. They didn't have much interest in 'em; they'd get loose and come back on us again. I told 'em we were gonna start them at $10.00. If they were interested enough in 'em to pay $10.00, why, they could buy them individually. Otherwise, we'd sell 'em in a bunch and we'd help take 'em off the Forest. They said, "you can't do that." They called the old man, Frank Andrews, and told him, "This fellow's not doing this according to law." They were pretty mad. He said, "All right; all right. I'll be right out." "You'd better get here pretty quick." "When's he gonna sell 'em?" "About 9 o'clock in the morning." "I'll be there."
Well, about 10:30 the old man showed up. He was just as apologetic as he could be. He said he'd had a breakdown, and I guess he had car trouble, got stuck or some other darned thing. Personally, I always wondered if he ever intended to be there at 9 o'clock. Years later, he told me, "You know I wasn't too anxious to get there too early." He got there and these fellows said, "The sale's illegal," and he said, "Well, it's done now. There's nothing we can do about it."
One time I was up there and this fellow, Dick Wetherill, was there; also Jim Curry and a fellow named Sid Wilson. He was quite a character. He was later Mayor of Tombstone; you might've heard of him. He's still down there. Wilson was a real wild-horse man. There was also a fellow by the name of Fred Salsbury; he was another wild-horse men. He's down there selling horses now.
We went up there one Sunday; had a boy on the lookout, who was up there cooking. He wasn't any wild-horse man, but he could cook. We took our lunch and I took my wife and the kids and another lady. We spread our lunch out on the table. This boy said, "Why don't you eat some of this meat. I have a whole bunch of it cooked up and I don't know when those fellows are coming." He added, "I'll cook some more." And he did. He had this great big bread pan full of meat. So my wife and the kids and the other lady, Mrs. Saunders, ate some of the meat, quite a bit of it, and we had a wonderful meal. The ladies really bragged on the meat.
My wife said, "Where did you get that calf?" This was after the meal was all over. He said, "Mrs. Charles, that isn't a calf." "What?" she said. "Well, what is it?" He said, "It's a horse; I thought you knew." She said, "I don't believe it; where is it?" They went out there and he still had the hoof of it. Until she knew what it was she thought it was wonderful meat. It didn't bother the kids any. We went out, you know, across that big Valle Grande, where Dick Gualt was killed, that big, open place there. Mrs. Saunders was a big woman; she said, "I feel nauseated." She lost the horse meat.
They did the same thing; Sid Wilson told me about it one time. Everything was a little bit on edge. Mrs. Curry had come up to see Jim. Jim was working there. I said, "What's the matter, Sid?" "By golly," he said, "Old Jim fed Mrs. Curry some horse-meat last night, and she had us roosting in the trees." You know, women are funny things; they don't understand about things like that. I've laughed about that many times.
From Santa Fe you went to the Cibola?
Yes, to the Cibola. Very interesting time down there. A couple of young Rangers one of them was Eddie Tucker and the other one was Zane Smith; they recommended doing away with the Supervisor! At least that's the way the story went; That's the way I understood it.
The Cibola was an entirely different outfit from the Santa Fe. On the Santa Fe, you know, we had small permittees, mostly Spanish-American people. Down there, especially in the Magdalena country, you're in the larger permittee class. The Sandias and the mountains in south of there, some of the permittees were pretty small, but it was very interesting, very interesting.
I think you had a little trouble with coffee on a pack trip you made in there, on an overnight camp anyhow.
I'll tell you about that. I went out there; I always spent a good share of my time figuring some way to get out in the field, because I liked it. So I went out there with this Ranger out of Grants. We really had a good supply of chuck; we were really fixed, and we went up there. Another outfit had a cabin, which one, I forget.
Anyway, we were up on top of Mt. Taylor, and by golly, it was getting dark and this Ranger said, "Do you know the trail down to the camp?" And I said, "Lord no." It looked pretty dark and foreboding down there and it was beginning to snow. I said, "Don't you?" and he said, "No. I've never been down through there." I didn't think we had a chance in the world to get to our camp before dark, and neither did he. And we knew if we wandered around in that country after dark we'd have trouble. He said, "Well, can you do without your coffee tonight?" and I said, "Sure, Why?" He said, "Well, we can go up here and stay all night at La Mosca cabin on top of the lookout."
That looked like the lesser of two evils, at that time. We went up there and Lord, the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour, stacking a little snow up on the side of the trees. We turned the horses out and went up and somebody had forgotten to cut any wood. We found some boxes and got a little wood and built a fire. We had some emergency rations from World War I, and we dragged them out. I had eaten them before, so that didn't worry me too much, and finally I said, "Where's the water; I need a drink of water." "Water?" he said. "Didn't I tell you, you couldn't have any coffee?" "Yes," I said, "You told me I couldn't have any coffee, but you didn't say I couldn't have a drink of water."
Well, the next morning there was enough snow that we could melt a little and get a drink of water, anyway. We even had coffee. The Ranger's name was Tucker! I want to get that in the record. Oh, that fellow was having fun; he sure enjoyed it more than I did. What was that fellow's name that had the cabin where we camped?
Elkins, yes that was it.
Those were good days. I wouldn't want to go through them again, but I really enjoyed them at that time.
When it comes to actual land management in the Southwest, there is so much to learn. Lord, Lord! We haven't scraped the surface. For many years we went along managing these National Forests primarily just for protection. That's all we did. We've now reached the point where we have to go a great deal further than that. But why should I worry about it, you know?
A younger generation I go out and see these young Rangers and I see them make some of the same mistakes that I was making at their age. On the other hand, those fellows are so much further ahead than what I was, and most of the men working with me at the time I came in; there just isn't any comparison. These guys are so much farther ahead of my generation. Sure, they make mistakes. I hesitate to tell 'em, but I think they're makin' 'em. But I don't worry about the Forest Service. They're a good bunch of men; they've always been an outstanding bunch of men, when you come right down to it.
People talk about the younger generation and the country going to the dogs; they're nuts! They'll be talking about some of my grandchildren that way some of these days, and I know they're a lot smarter than their fathers and a whole lot smarter than their grandfather!
I have no regrets. I've had a lot of fun in this life. I didn't get rich, but during my lifetime I've known a number of rich people who weren't nearly as happy as I've been. I'm not going to worry about that, either.
Mr. Hollis Palmer was born and grew up in Northeastern Iowa. World War I interrupted his schooling. He returned, after 25 months in the Army, to complete high school and four years at Iowa State College at Ames. During summers, while going to College. Hollis worked for the Forest Service. He was interviewed in Tucson, Arizona. His story starts with him in Ames, Iowa.
I was down there one day it was a Sunday morning I got a letter from Albuquerque and, by golly, the Regional Office in Albuquerque offered me a job as a floater on the Datil. I didn't let anything much stop me; I went down and wired them I'd take it, and got a ticket. I wanted to get out of that snow and ice. I did, but I got there in the middle of a big pile of it because I landed in Albuquerque right at the tail end of the big 1923 snowstorm, a blizzard. It tied up everything.
I stayed all night at Socorro, after leaving Albuquerque. At the Valverde Hotel there was about two feet of snow in the little patio there. They dug it out. The next morning I took the train up to Magdalena. You couldn't even see out because there was snow up on each side of the cars; couldn't see out. When I got to Magdalena they were runnin' around in tunnels where they tunneled out under the snow. So I got out of the snow all right! And that was my initiation to Region 3; District 3 at that time.
Well, I couldn't get to the field. Stan Wilson was just leaving as I was comin' in; he had been assigned to the Regional Office. I fell heir to the jobs Stan used to do, like bringing the timber sales atlas up to date, correcting land status not that I knew a darned thing about it; I had to learn the hard way to find out. So then, as soon as it cleared up, my first job, I think, I went out to Jewett.
A floater on the Datil was classed at that time as Assistant Ranger. Of course I was really getting paid big then; I was getting $1220 a year, plus $240 bonus! Had to buy a couple of horses. Had my own saddle.
I was there then that summer with Ed McPhaul at O-Bar-O, as his Assistant. Then, after the fire season, I remember going into town with Ed and we got a six-months supply of chuck. I can still see Ed driving that Model T Ford: he had to stoop down to see the windshield you see Ed was very large: he was about six foot two, or three, somewhere in there. And then that summer when fire season opened, quite a number of luminaries came out as Fire Guards. Among them was Jewell Wyche.
Jewell had been working for the T U T as a cowboy. He rode up on a big stallion, leading a spare horse, and he had a dog. Jewell's first crack after he looked around of course everybody was single in those days women were just out of the question, out of the picture nobody thought much about it. So Jewell looked around and said, "Ed, have you got a tomcat?" And Ed said, "Yes, I have," and he said, "By God, between us we can take care of anything that comes along." And that was my introduction to Jewell Wyche.
Ed and I went to the first Ranger training camp in 1924 in Flagstaff. There I met up with all of the celebrants from Region 3, including Ray Painter, Jesse Fears, to name a few. I got pretty well acquainted with Quincy Randles. Quincy handled the timber sales instruction. I don't remember who the grazing man was.
I guess it was John Kerr.
No, John didn't go for that stuff much; he wasn't there much. Paul Roberts it was probably Paul Roberts.
Then, after that, I worked on a little bit of everything. We counted sheep on the O-Bar-O until the world looked level. Frank Hubbel had 24,000, and I think Ed Otero had 20,000, so we had plenty of sheep to count and plenty of fires to chase! I remember that I spent the summer over on the Negrito, at my summer station. There I met up with Fred Winn. He had come up there to visit Ed Otero. Apparently that was an annual trek: whenever Fred came up from the Gila he always came to visit Ed Otero.
We had a pretty nice summer, a busy one. As I recall, we built the telephone lines from O-Bar-O to Eagle Peak that summer, just while we had nothing else to do. As far as I can remember, there were about twenty miles. It was my first experience in building lines. Ed decided that line had to be straight, and I remember I had to reset two or three poles, had just got 'em a little bit out of line. But otherwise, after we got across the flat and got onto the tree line, we really made time. We used to average about five miles a day, the three of us hanging tree lines.
Of course there wasn't any post hole diggers; we were it. Jewell Wyche, as I remember, was the powder man. If we had to shoot something, why he would do it. We'd accuse him of blowing it out rather than shooting it out, but we got the job done. I believe Al Bloom was the Ranger at Tularosa; Ben Rogers was on the Frisco at Reserve: and of course Fred McCament was on the Jewett.
Oh, yeah, I remember now; I was sent out to take the Mangas District and that was fine. I thought, "I've really got it made now. I can sleep as late as I want to, nuthin' much to do. Comes a cold winter, I've got a pretty good supply of wood in." John Anderson, Assistant Supervisor, called me one day, "Say, I've got some bad news for you." I said, "What's the matter, John?" Well, he says, "We've got a man assigned here who's got a wife and we're gonna have to send him out. We want you to stay on and break him in." Of course I'd do an awful lot of breakin in, workin' there that long. Anyway, Hurst R. Julian showed up.
Well, Hurst was one of those fellows who kinda liked to get along with people. I told him that the Mexican people in Mangas seemed to be quite friendly, pretty nice people. Hurst's initiation in Mangas was to show them who was boss! He thought he was quite a gunman, and always carried a gun and wore a big hat and really was a wheel. I remember his first trip for the mail in Mangas; he went up there and shot a couple of dogs. That was rather an odd start for a Ranger!
He was quite a character. He was the fellow who later actually put the Casa Grande Ruins on the map; through his publicity and soliciting public opinion. Hurst was about the first one down here who really put it on the map. He advertised it. I understand that he was really quite a fellow when it came to getting along with people. But he sure started out real good at Mangas.
But I didn't stay at Mangas long. I went over end helped Fred McCament. I remember Fred had a bunch of special uses that had just grown up, mostly pasture fences. We spent the winter in tents in the snow, surveying special uses. We'd be out for about two weeks at a stretch. When we ran out of groceries we'd go back to Jewett. I remember what seemed odd to me was, these so-celled practical Rangers were teaching me a lot of know-how, doin' things that were pretty foreign to me, and in the meantime I found out that I had to teach 'em about surveys and maps which they knew not a thing about.
Fred McCament and I went out on a job. I asked Fred, "Do you want me to pull the chain?" He says, "Yeah." I said, "Are you gonna run the compass?" "Yes," he said, "I'll run the compass." Fred got a little mixed up in his notes. I was lookin' at his notes and found that he had one reading there marked, "North 103 South." I says, "Fred, what does that mean?" And finally Fred just owned up that he had never seen one of those compasses except just laying on a desk. So I took it over and then we would work half the night by candlelight to make the closures. Fred had quite a course of instructions. Everything went along pretty good.
In the spring of '25 I went down to help make a check of the telephone lines, especially post hole digging. So I went down and helped Garvin Smith at Chloride. Garvin started to build at least we got thirteen miles of poles in he got to Black Mountain, I think it was. I remember the snow was so darned deep we couldn't finish it up. We couldn't get up in there.
Then, in the meantime, I got orders to go to Pleasant Valley. I took off and rode through in ten days to Pleasant Valley.
You rode from Chloride to Pleasant Valley?
Yes, I just packed my outfit an' took off. The snow was just a little bit more than belly-deep comin over Eagle Peak. That was over the Black Range. I got into Pleasant Valley; took me ten days, because I wasted a lot of time. It was about 350 miles. After I got in Ray Stewart was Ranger then, and he cussed me out. I was supposed to be there the first. I said. "Well, I know it. I just found out about it about the first. I just got in as quick as I could."
I remember I stayed all night in Springerville and got acquainted with Jim Sizer. He was Supervisor there then. I remember staying overnight with Dolph Slosser at Pinedale. I couldn't ever figger out whether I stayed all night with Pink Arnold or Jack Nelson; because Pink Arnold was leaving, and Jack Nelson was takin' over. Pink decided he was a farmer about them, and he was goin' back to Colorado to do some farmin'. Of course, I had worked with Pink on a range survey crew on the Santa Fe before that.
What did you do when you got to Pleasant Valley?
Well, I rode the Heber-Reno sheep drive from Jump-off, just above Tonto Creek, to the Mogollon Rim. That must be about 26 miles. Well, at that time Ray was a bit anti-sheep Ray Stewart. They were still fighting the sheep and cattle war; some of the local people that lived there. I got along fine; got along with the sheepmen fine. They had some of the best men I ever knew, among the sheep owners. You just never run into a better bunch of people to work with. Sure, they got off the trail occasionally, but anybody can get lost.
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From the Use Book - 1906. "Regulation 65: All stock which is grazed under permit in or allowed to cross any forest reserve will be required to conform to the quarantine regulations of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture, and all livestock laws of the State or Territory in which the Reserve is located."
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Then Ray Stewart decided that he was gonna be a cotton farmer and stocknen down in Texas. He owned some property down there. So he resigned and went down to Texas. They gave me the Pleasant Valley District.
But the way, the reason that I went to Pleasant Valley was the fact that they had consolidated divided the Datil National Forest between the Apache and the Gila and did away with the Datil. That took effect April 1, 1925, or along about in there. Anyway, I lost my job and had to take a new one.
Ted Swift of course was Supervisor there on the Tonto. Ted came out and wanted to know if I'd trade Districts with Allen Bloom. His District was about the same as mine and I didn't care too much about Pleasant Valley anyway. I was glad to make the trade and get back to Tularosa. That was about ten miles out of Reserve.
In the meantime I actually got me a bedstead, something to sleep on besides the floor. Had some furniture. So, by Golly, I picked up an old boy that had brought Bloom's stuff over, so he took my stuff back. I saddled up, put my bedroll on my horse and took off across the Apache Reservation and across the Apache Forest, and I wound up in 6 or 8 days at Tularosa. Found my belongings piled on the porch in Tularosa. That was my second move in the same year. That must be about 200 miles across there, from Pleasant Valley to Tularosa.
The country was brand new to me. I didn't know any of that reservation; it was rough. The only trouble was, I almost got into trouble. I camped right next to an Indian village. I believe it was Cibeque. I had a nice big fat horse; he weighed about 1100 pounds. An Indian had two or three squaws, and he wanted to trade me one of his squaws for that horse; he'd give me a fat squaw for a fat horse! I decided that the horse was better than the squaw, and I just stayed with it. But that was my first initiation with Apaches. I'd never been around them much except the ones that came into Pleasant Valley.
I wound up back on the Tularosa District, and I seemed to be plagued with consolidations. I was there about two and a half years when they consolidated Tularosa; divided it between the Frisco and the Jewett Districts.
In the meantime, I'd put through the individual range allotments on that District. That is, I had done the paperwork and the apportionment of the range, based on range surveys. I got the fence lines all settled and agreed on by the permittees.
That was back in the days when the stockmen did their own fence building, and everything went along; everybody seemed pretty well satisfied. It was a matter of give and take. During that time I was pretty busy on the District during roundups, and I didn't have any particular trouble; in fact, I enjoyed it.
The main thing I found out about people was, if you have a problem with them, lay it on the line and explain it to them. I never had the feeling that I was a bureaucrat tellin' people. I tried to work things out with them, and it worked out very, very well.
We had a fellow by the name of Henry Graham; he was a Fire Guard at Eagle Peak. Of course at that time I was very enthusiastic about the Forest Service, I thought it was a very well-run, very well thought-out outfit. I believed it; still do. But Henry used to stay all night with me once in a while. By Golly, one day he had something in his craw. He clammed up; wouldn't say anything.
Come to find out about it, back in the early 20s we had a big depression. Cattlemen all went broke, and Henry had gone broke. He kept his ranch and he kept his range permit, but he lost all his cattle, and they had told him that they would restore his permit whenever he could build up his herd. Well, come to find out about it I looked into his case, spent several nights digging it out, and I found that Henry was right. The Forest Service had set him a limit.
I took the matter up with Kenner Kartchner, the Supervisor, and Ken took it up with the Regional Office, and the thing was straightened out and the permit was restored, the way it had been promised. So Henry decided then that the Forest Service was a pretty good outfit. That was just one little instance of what a fellow can do, what you have to do oftentimes. Some of those people were pretty low on education.
Then there was another outfit, Porter and some other outfit. I've forgotten what, but the bank closed 'em out. This is something that may surprise you. The bank came in and were telling me how they were gonna run cattle up there. I looked up the case. They had no privilege; all they had was a mortgage on the cattle and the ranch. They didn't have anything, but they grabbed the ranch. I told 'em, "No, you can't run cattle there." Well, by Gosh, they were gonna run cattle there. "Well, I said, "You can't."
"Mr. Porter has made application for non-use, and I granted it to him, and it was approved and when he gets a ranch he has so many years to acquire cattle." Now the bank, they were just really blowing their stack. I believe that that was what precipitated the signing of waivers for those mortgage outfits, because that case was correct in the way it was handled. The bank had no waiver; they had no mortgage whatever on the preference for livestock.
I remember that my name was Mud with some of the people who had made commitments in the Regional Office. I think they felt that I wasn't really following along and I wasn't following along, because the Regulations made no provision for it. I don't think I was thought of too well by the grazing officers in the Regional Office at that time.
In February of '28 I was sent to the Tonto to help run the first primary control under the Mogollon Rim: Pine, Payson, Pleasant Valley. I worked there until the snow went off the mountain. My actual transfer was to McNary timber sales. I wound up there in the Spring and that was my first experience on a major timber-sale operation.
When I got up there I found quite a bunch of characters. Kim Carlisle was in charge of the sale, and Jim Monighan was second in charge, and Everett Hamilton was there. I denied any knowledge of timber so Jim took me out and spent an hour and a half with me, showing me how to scale. He said, "Now there's three loaders down there; you take care of all three. When they need you, when they run out of logs, they'll blow the whistle." That was my initiation to timber sales.
In about a month or two, Jim did come out and check me and gave me a few pointers. Jim was like the rest of us; he was too doggone busy scaling and marking to waste too much time on formalities. I worked at McNary that summer and in the meantime Standard opened up, that's just out of Pinedale. They sent Ev Hamilton down there in charge of sales and sent me down to help him. I was at Standard until things broke in the Depression.
They suddenly discovered that I had had experience on range, so they pulled me off then and they told me that they wanted me, that summer, to do a redo on the original 1919 reconnaissance. Paul Roberts, Ralph Hussey and that bunch, had done that in 1919 or 1920 on the Sitgreaves. They had the range maps and type maps and that sort of thing; they told me to do it and I took off. By fall I had the doggone thing pretty well whipped. It wasn't a matter of packing; you can drive anyplace. I always loved that Sitgreaves because it is so accessible.
I think it was November 11, 1933 when I was ordered to report to the Tonto. The job down there was to run an original range survey in all that Roosevelt country. That was my first experience in the desert. Al Alexander was the Ranger at Roosevelt. He let me stay in that spare room there in his office. I didn't know anything about scorpions, and I didn't know much about deserts. Ellis Wiltbank did know desert vegetation real well. He spent a couple of days with me.
Like a darned fool I put my cot right up against the wall. I went to bed one night; backed right into a scorpion! I told Ellis to come and get his horses; that I was going to have to walk because I couldn't sit down. You know that's rough country. It's really rough. I decided I could make better time riding as far as I could and then walking the rest of the way.
I'd get out there about daylight in the morning before it got too hot. That made it pretty good; after I got used to it, it was really O.K. I rather enjoyed it.
Then Kirby went to the Tonto as Supervisor. From then on out I wasn't wanting for something to do. I had all kinds of jobs.
Well, I stayed on the Tonto, mostly in administrative work, timber, and I made four or five cow counts during that time. Of course, in those days when you were on a cow count, it was a cow count. You just took your bedroll and took off, and that was the last they saw of you until you got back. I remember I was on the Bernard Hughes outfit for six straight weeks. That was kinda tough; a pretty good stretch.
Then of course the war came along and I, being an old campaigner from the first World War, thought, "Well, I'm getting a little old and decrepit but maybe they can use me," so I made out an application, and got in.
I didn't get out of that until 1947. Every time I tried to get back the CO would ask, "Well, what're you gonna do when you get back?" "Well, I'd go back to my job." He'd say, "Yeah, you're goin' back to work for the Government; you're working for the Government right here and here's where you're gonna stay." So I had a heck of a time gettin out of there, getting out of Army service.
When I got back I was assigned to the Sitgreaves. One nice thing about it was that Jim Monighan was Supervisor. That pleased me very much because Jim and I had worked together before. Then of course there was Cliff McDuff, he was Assistant Supervisor. Cliff wasn't there very long. He went on his way, very shortly after I got there.
Well, when I got to the Sitgreaves I was told I was to handle timber. With wartime problems and the many things that should've been done under normal conditions, well, things were in kind of a bad shape. Everybody recognized it. Quincy Randles was no longer with us. Had a new men, Otto Lindh. I soon got acquainted with him and we started things off.
I was to handle timber, but fires are Number One anyplace, and in timbered areas particularly. I found out that the Sitgreaves fire-wise and help-wise was just about as it had been when I left in 1936. They had maybe a whole dozen in the whole Forest for fire crews. The sawmill operators were always complaining about the fact that every time they had a fire they'd shut down the operation and the crews would quit.
Then they started out on this timber-stand improvement program. Then they started the slash disposal program, where the Government would take it over. Well, I was right in the big middle of that while the mighty Coconino was talking about it. I had mine done. Had them in the contracts and they were starting to operate.
The first thing I did was move the old Heart Canyon CCC units down to Chevelon and put up some cabins down there. As I remember, we put up seven two-room shacks. I got Bud Allen of course. Bud would go along with anything that was new and different, where he can see there is going to be any benefit out of it. Bud got behind that program and we got the thing going. We had a pretty good crew right off the bat. Then the old Heber Ranger Station up in Black Canyon was no place for nuthin'. The sun didn't get up there until 11 or 12 in the morning. It was down there under the bluffs.
We finally got Zane Smith out and we picked a site at Overgaard. By a little fast manipulation and a little cooperation, we got permission, and an agreement with Southwest to furnish us water. We started in on that camp. Zane laid out a nice plat showing the permanent improvements and told me flatfooted, he says, "These temporary structures, keep them off the permanent site so you can use them until you get the permanent ones up." I said, "Zane, will we get the permanent site up, say, about 1970?" He said, "Probably." So I started building Heber.
We found an old ERA camp down at Prescott. I got Ray Stewart to tear those buildings down. I paid him for it; paid his bills. The first falling out, the first round, I had with this new set-up on Forest Service equipment in Albuquerque was that it cost me more to have the damned things hauled up to the erection site, after it was taken down, than it had cost Ray Stewart to take 'em down.
Come to find out, I had to pay the expenses of that semi from Albuquerque to Prescott, and then back to Albuquerque. It just didn't make sense to me. I could've contracted it cheaper than that. That was the last time I ever used the Equipment Service semi I'd learned my lesson.
We started building the Overgaard site. The next thing I knew, I had everything moved over from Heber. Everything was pretty good except for the Ranger no place for him. We finally got an appropriation to build the Heber Ranger Station, and got a nice job done. But the whole doggone thing of it was that in a period of about a couple of years, we had fire crews, we had timber crews, and we had the finest equipment.
You retired on the Sitgreaves?
Yes, I retired there in 1957, at the age of 57. I was getting to where I had a bad taste in my mouth, and was getting to where I didn't like it, so I decided it was time to quit.
If I'd known what the turn of events were gonna be after the War, I'd have probably stayed. But I had just about all I could take. I didn't want to get myself behind the eightball with people I couldn't control. So I got out.
Mr. John Mims and Mr. Rohert Leonard were interviewed at Pinos Altos, New Mexico. John started his career with the Forest Service in 1922 on the Lincoln National Forest. He later worked on the Manzano, Cibola, and Gila. Upon retirement from the Service, John established his residence at Pinos Altos. He tells of an incident that occurred while he was District Ranger at Grants.
Did you ever get involved in any shootings. John?
Well, yes, at Grants.
I was Deputy Sheriff and we had a hold-up in Grants. We were tipped off that it was going to happen. The Sheriffs of two Counties, the Deputies, and the U. S. Marshal and myself were there the day that this hold-up was supposed to take place. It didn't, so we figured that the tip was wrong. Everybody was discharged and went home happy. And the next day about noon we were called together again it was gonna happen about 6 o'clock that afternoon; there would be a gang of about seven men come in from Gallup and hold up the Bond-Sargent store, lock all the employees in the vault, and pull it off. So we took our positions.
At 6 o'clock that afternoon they drove up in a Model T Ford, and fell out. We all had positions where we could watch. They put their bandanas over their faces, twirled their guns, and went into the store. There were several officers planted inside the store. The shooting broke loose. The hold-up men were given every opportunity to throw their guns down and surrender, and they didn't. When the shootin' was over there was one dead man, three wounded, and that was that.
I might add that we later rushed out on the road, and three miles south of Grants we found a new Buick car with a driver just idling along. We later learned that the intention of the seven men was to get as far as where the Buick was parked, abandon the Model T and take off in the new Buick. One of the survivors later confessed that had that hold-up gone off as it should have, they were gonna hold up the Southern Pacific train the next afternoon. The fast train stopped in Grants for water; they were gonna board it there, hold up the train, the express car, passengers, everything.
Was that a gang of outlaws, John?
Well, I'd say it was a gang of hoodlums instead of outlaws. Two or three of then had been involved in several petty offenses in Gallup. The ringleader of the bunch seemed to be a Spanish fellow by the name of Valencia. He had been educated in the United States and had held pretty high positions in the Mexican Army. Came over to this country and for some unknown reason settled in Grants. He was a gambler, and the native Mexicans around Grants didn't like him.
After the shooting was over, I went in and Velencia was wounded. He called for a priest, and the priest asked Valencia why he didn't throw his gun down and surrender when the officers told him to. I overheard the conversation. He told the priest his exact words were, "Father. I can't. I have killed three men that I have never been brought to trial for, and I knew if I was caught, they'd pin this other deal on me. So I held out."
Now, the man that was killed and the three wounded, were they all of the outlaw bunch?
None of the posse was hurt?
No, there wasn't anybody seriously hurt. There come darned near bein', though. Lucky, that's all.
You got the whole group then?
Yes, the whole outfit. We even got the man who was pacing the road in the getaway car. He was pretty astounded when a car pulled up alongside his and the Sheriff jumped out and told him to throw his hands up. "I haven't done anything; I haven't done anything." He found out that he had done something all right.
Robert Leonard came to the Gila country in 1922 with his father and brothers to operate a sawmill. He worked on the Gila National Forest in many different categories. Bob was a smoke-eater. For about 30 years he worked on most of the large fires on the Gila. At the time of his retirement from the Service, in 1964, Bob was the Improvement Foreman on the Forest. His residence is in Silver City. He tells about Old "Bear" Moore, a man who roamed the Mogollon Mountains.
Well, I understand that Old Bear Moore used to bring gold in here at times.
Well, yeah, I expect he did. He was always a'prospectin' and minin' around so I have an idea that he brought it in here to Watson. He was about the only one in the country that was buyin' at that time that I know of. Bear Moore lived at the old Davison sawmill set on Trout Creek, in an old shack down in the canyon just below where the road crosses the bridge goin' towards the Sapillo.
What about the Old Bear Moore cave?
In Turkey Creek?
Yes, in Turkey Creek.
That's one of his places where he camped. He used to do a lot of prospectin' around Brushy Mountain, and those caves on Turkey Creek were used by him; that's where they got the name of Bear Moore caves, because he used to go in there campin' all the time.
Well, it was because of his disfiguration from the bear that he lived out like that, wasn't it?
That's right. He wouldn't hardly come into town. In fact, I don't believe I ever saw the man in Silver City. And he'd seldom come down where we were. He stayed by himself; just lived up there by himself.
Wasn't he a pretty well educated man?
Very well educated, yes. He was a very well educated men.
And that accident, it ruined his life?
That's right. He always wore long whiskers to kinda hide his face because one side was sunk in, part of his jaw had been torn out. He always wore a long beard.
Now, one of the fellows that was in the CC Camp, I believe his name was Hunter, he used to tell me about runnin' into Old Bear Moore out in the mountains where he had trapped a bear and was torturing it to death. Did you ever hear of that?
I've heard the tale, yes.
Mr. Arthur J. "Crawford" Riggs had a long and interesting career with the Forest Service. Upon retirement from the Service he accepted employment with the New Mexico State Forestry Department. Crawford was interviewed in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His story follows.
Well, I grew up in the State of New Mexico. My parents moved to Roswell when I was less than a year old. Then my father got into the ranching business up in the Sacramento Mountains and for several years we lived in the Mayhill country where my father ranched during that time. Later we moved further west, to Magdalena. We ranched in the Magdalena country, southwest of Magdalena, for several years. Then, in 1922, I went to Arizona and stayed with my brother, Alf, in Holbrook, Arizona, and went to high school there.
In 1923 I worked my first summer for the Forest Service. Landis J. Arnold, or "Pink", as we all knew him, was a new Ranger on the Heber District. Paul Roberts was the Forest Supervisor at Holbrook at that time. My brother Alf and Paul were real good friends and I guess that's how I happened to get my summer job.
I was going to high school so I spent the summer with Pink, chasing smokes, counting sheep, and various odd jobs, and fishing occasionally. That's where I got my first experience counting sheep, because actually I had never had much experience with sheep up until that time, but I got to where I could do fairly well, before the season was over.
That was on the old Heber-Reno driveway?
It was on the old Heber-Reno driveway and I believe, as I recall, there were well over 100,000 sheep came across that driveway each spring and fall. So that kept up pretty busy during the spring months. Pink, of course, was pretty green, as Rangers go, I mean. He knew his way around pretty well but he didn't know very much about horses or cattle, or anything like that. So he kinda left it up to me to lead the way, that way.
In fact, he had a big bay horse that was a real fine horse, but he did like to hump up a little on a cold morning, and Pink would say, "Crawford, why don't you ride old Star today, and let your horse rest?" That got to be quite a habit which I liked real well because this was a very good horse. At that time there were lots of wild burros in that country and we had practice on these burros. Old Star was a good ropin' horse so I got in some pretty good practice that summer. Pink had an old horse he called Buck. He was a standby horse, but he was about all Pink rode.
That was my first experience actually in fighting fires, but I had some good experience during that summer. We had a fire start over near Wildcat Canyon, from a sheep camp. I went to the fire, then Pink sent me back to recruit men and supplies, etc. That was a real experience for me, but by the time the fire was over I felt like a pretty old hand at the business.
Of course in those days we chased all of our smokes horseback, carried our old McLeod tool and a gallon canteen of water and an axe and emergency rations. Maybe you'd go to four or five fires all on one trip. I remember one day I went to eight lightning fires, horseback; I'd go to one, put a line around it; go on to the next one, put a line around it; and why they didn't get away, I don't know, but I never had a fire get out on me.
Maybe we just took a little more time and built a little wider line, and knocked the old snags down a little more carefully or something. Anyway, we knew we didn't have any more help, so we had to do a pretty good job on the fires; we couldn't sit down with a handy-talkie and call for more help. We had to do it ourselves.
I had a wonderful time; I enjoyed it very much. Pink had a fine time, too. I think we got along real well together and I think that's where I got my start in the Forest Service.
That was in 1923?
The following year I worked on the Heber District again, but Jack Nelson came in as Assistant Ranger.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention the fact that in 1923, when I went to work on the Heber District, I was put under appointment as Assistant Ranger. We had no title for Administrative Guard at that time, and temporary men were appointed as Assistant Rangers. I got $100 a month with a bonus of $20 a month. This bonus of $20 a month was given provided your work was satisfactory.
At the end of the season, or...
Each month. When the report went in and your work was satisfactory and recommended by the Ranger, you got the extra $20 bonus.
Crawford, this is the first time I ever heard of that.
That's right. That's the way it was at that time. Of course I did a lot of the office work, going to school at that time and was taking typing, so it came pretty easy for me to do this office work. Pink would come in and toss the paper work over on my desk, so I had a lot of experience doing that which in later years, when I became a Ranger, it wasn't very difficult.
Anyway, the next year I mentioned the fact that Jack Nelson came in as Assistant Ranger. He had passed the Ranger examination, and was given the appointment there as Assistant. In the fall of 1924, Pink Arnold was transferred. I worked during this summer season as a cook.
The reason I got the job as a cook was that, before I could get out of school to go to work, Pink had asked me what job I would like to have. He said he did not have the Assistant Ranger job open this year since Jack had taken the job. He said he had a lookout job he could give me, a smokechaser's job, or a road job. Said he couldn't give me a Foreman's job because he had to start the road crews too early and he had to have someone in charge of the crew. I asked him which job paid the most.
He got to figurin' and found out that the cook's job paid the best, so I got $70 a month instead of $65 a month, with board. On top of that, he gave me $15 a month for keeping my horse so that I could go down and inform the road crew of a fire. We usually camped along telephone lines and we had a portable telephone in our cook tent, so if a lookout reported a fire, why I could get on my horse end go down and inform the road crew and they could head for the fire.
You were cookin' for the road crew?
I was cookin' for the road crew, and with the extra $15, I was makin' $90 a month, which was real good money at that time. During the summer season I'd save up $400 or $500, which helped me get through the year by working winters, too, you know.
The last year of high school I went to Bisbee, Arizona; then cane back to Heber in '26 and worked through that season and all through the next winter, on various maintenance jobs, such as road maintenance, fence building, and some improvement around the station. In the fall of '26 I decided I'd go back to school, so I went to Tucson and went to school that winter. Times got pretty hard and I ran out of money, so I had to go back to work again.
The following year, '27 then, I went to work at the Santa Rita Range Reserve, out of Tucson. The Experiment Station headquarters are in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. I had some good experience there working under Matt Cully who was Director at that time. Especially on range work it was good training, because that was the big job there, range management. During the time I was there I also took some extension work at the University, some botany, which helped me also in future work.
After my seasonal work was over at the Experiment Station, I decided I wouldn't go back into the Forest Service for a while. I thought I had about had it and I'd try something else. But things didn't work out too good; jobs weren't plentiful.
From the Use Book - 1906. "Regulation 64. Persons wishing to drive stock across any part of a forest reserve must make application to the supervisor, either by letter or on the regular grazing application form, for the privilege of grazing the stock on the reserve en route, and must have a permit from the supervisor before entering the reserve."
* * * * * * * * * *
I roamed around for about a year tryin' my luck at various jobs. One especially I remember was working in the mines over in the Patagonia country. My dad had bought a small ranch over there at that time, so I decided I'd try my luck minin'. But after about a week in that mine shaft I decided there'd be no more of that for me. Then I got a job as a road foreman, maintenance foreman, for this mine. Worked there during the winter, decided these other jobs weren't so good so I'd try to get back in the Forest Service.
I put in my application to the Regional Office. In fact, I remember writing to Stan Wilson you recall he was in charge of Operations at that time and gave him my experience and told him I'd like to get a job anywhere in the Region, it didn't make any difference. Stan was very kind; he wrote out letters to all Forest Supervisors in the Region. I hadn't been able to get a job when I wrote this letter; believe me, I was needing a job.
When the offers came, they came in bunches. I had several offers then from the Forest Service to work on various jobs, timber work on the Carson, trail work on the Coronado, but the one I finally accepted was a scaling job on the Sitgreaves. Paul Roberts wrote me and said he had this job open. I had said in my letter that I expected to take the Ranger examination and I wanted to get back in the Forest Service so I could get more experience. So when I got the letter from Paul offering me a job on the Sitgreaves scaling at McNary, why that looked good to me.
I think I started out at $125 a month, scaling logs; that was March 31, 1928.
Was Gordon Bade in charge of the sale?
No, Gordon Bade hadn't even started to work for the Forest Service at that time. Frank Harris, an old Ranger who'd been down at Douglas for several years, had just been transferred up there, and he was Assistant in Charge. Kimberly Carlisle was in charge of this timber sale. He was an old timber-sale man that they'd sent down from the Coconino.
This timber sale on the Forest at McNary had just been opened up this year; in fact, Jim Monighan and a fellow by the name of Hamilton, I don't recall his first name, were on this sale, scaling logs and marking timber, running a few survey lines, etc., when I got there. Shortly after I got there, Jim was transferred and so was Hamilton. So I was the first man that actually started scalin' logs on this job when they opened up, when the company moved on the Forest.
Then, it was in June, I believe, that Gordon Bade came. Maybe it was before June, it might've been May anyway a little later that spring Gordon came out from New York and started to work. Then in July, Bill Beveridge came on the job. So the three of us scaled logs. About the first year that I was there, that's about all we did, scale logs. Occasionally one of us would help Carlisle or Harris on some marking or cruising or some thing of that sort; but most of our work the first year, the three of us, was scalin'. Of course this scaling at that time was all long logs.
I'll never forget what Monighan told us, that if we scaled as many as 300 logs a day, we could consider that a real good day's work. After the company moved on the Forest and rally began to cut timber, if we scaled less than 500 logs a day, we thought we were fallin' down on the job. We had to do it; we had to, to keep up.
There are some things about that old timber sale that I'll never forget. We used to have to ride in the wintertime we weren't able to use a car to get out to the sale, so we'd ride this train. Of course the Forest Service had no other way at that time for us to get out on the job except by pickup. So we'd ride the train. Many times we left McNary at 6 o'clock in the morning. When it was real dark and fifteen to twenty degrees below zero, and try to find a warm place on that train to ride, especially a safe place. You'd ride on one of the cars and you'd freeze to death, even though you might feel a little safer. If the train jumped the track you might be able to jump, but you finally gave that up and thought, "Well, I'll just take my chances up in the cab with the engineer, I won't freeze to death at least."
It was quite an experience; we had lots of snow, seemed like, during the two winters I was there. And the second winter I was promoted, I guess, to check-scaler, and did mostly check-scaling and cruising, and some survey work.
Bill Beveridge and I stayed out in a camp, oh, about 20 or 25 miles north of McNary. We got snowed in during the winter and couldn't get out for about two months. We couldn't move our cars from this ranch house where we were staying. The railroad track was about a mile from the ranch house, so we were stuck. If we wanted to go to town, we'd have to catch the train. But we had a lot of fun and we cruised a lot of timber, all on snow shoes.
Crawford, can you describe a little more of this railroad logging, how they managed it in the wintertime?
They were using the old caterpillar ninety, I believe they called it. They did all their skidding with these old cats, and they were real good machines for that time. They skidded their logs into these landings along the railroad track, the spurs that were extended out from the main line that went out from McNary.
What would irritate the scalers considerably was, you'd get on a spur where they'd skidded in a lot of logs, and scale those all up and figure, "Well, I've got it made now. I won't have to worry about getting behind on logs." Then here would come a woods foreman over and say, "How about comin' over on this other spur and scalin' some logs; we've got a whole trainload of cars over there we'd like for you to scale."
Well, we did that for quite a while. We humored them and we'd get over there and work ourselves to death to keep ahead of the loader, load out these cars. Then, finally we got wise to ourselves and we told 'em they'd load where we had the logs scaled, instead of havin' us chase all over the woods.
I remember a little incident that might be interesting. I had scaled a landing of logs one afternoon before going in for the night. Six or eight hundred logs were along this landing, a good trainload of logs anyway. The next morning I stopped at a place along the main line where they had skidded in a lot of logs and started scalin' there. In about 30 minutes, here come the woods foreman ridin' the log train up and he ran over and said. "I want you to come over to this other landing and scale some logs." I said, "You have a landing of logs back on this other spur. And he said, "Well, I want to clear out this one over here." I said, "Well, you'll just have to wait until I get these scaled and then I'll go scale those."
Well, he made some remark about seeing my boss and reporting me to the Forest Supervisor. My marking hatchet was sticking in a log pretty close by, and I nonchalantly walked over and jerked this axe out of the log and stepped toward him. I had no intention of using it. So he spoke up he got a little bit excited "Now, wait a minute, wait a minute, Mr. Riggs," he says, "We can take care of that all right. Don't worry about it. We'll get along all right." So I wasn't bothered then after that, about scalin' any logs. And he didn't report me to the Supervisor. But, that's the way it went.
Hollis Palmer, by the way, came on that job, too, while I was there. You know he used to chew a lot of snoos. I almost got the habit, but I finally decided I didn't want to look like some of these guys that chew snoos, so I gave it up as a bad job.
Well, let's see, in February 1930, I was offered a Ranger's job on the Tonto, at Tonto Basin, the old Punkin Center Ranger Station. I accepted. This was at the time when Bill and I were stranded out in the snow at this ranch about 20 miles north of town. I was so determined that I was going to get out of there that I got one of the logging cats to come to the ranch and tow my car through the snow to the landing. They helped me load my car on a flatcar and towed it into McNary, so I was able to go ahead and transfer, to the Tonto, the last of February.
It was quite a change from McNary; from the high Mogollon Mountains to the Tonto Basin which is, as I recall, about 2,000 feet elevation, with plenty of lizards and rattlesnakes, and what have you, there at the old Station. The Station was located about a quarter of a mile from the old Post Office, up-canyon, where you never got a breath of fresh air during the summer time.
Oh, it wasn't on the flat where it is now?
No, it was down under the hill, down in the canyon. An old abode house which was nice, an old adobe Ranger Station, which was pretty cool. But the office was a frame building and I soon learned that if I wanted to get any office work done I had to do it early in the morning or late in the evening.
I more or less established a schedule to start to work about 6:30 in the office and work until about 11:00, and then lay off until about 3:00 or 3:30 in the afternoon, then go back and work again, because it would get so hot in the office that you couldn't handle any papers, or move around, without just sticking to everything you know how it is when it gets hot that way.
Well, I spent almost a year at Tonto Basin; a lot of grazing work, of course. At that time I had no fire guards, no lookout. I did have two or three men on a trail crew during that summertime. I believe I had either two or three fires during that summer. One was a yucca that was struck by lightning back of the Station two or three miles, and the other was over in north of there in a little range of mountains extending up from the Tonto River. My road crew took care of that. I didn't even know anything about it.
Since that time, or now anyway, they've got a lookout, and I don't know how many fireguards and what-have-you. But I don't know why we didn't have more fires in those days. Maybe we lived right, I don't know.
What about range conditions; was there a lot of grass on the ground?
Well, I think that probably might have made some difference. Ranges were pretty heavily used, as I recall, on the Tonto Basin, in most cases. However, George Cline's range, which ran north and east of the river, I remember that range better than any other one because I know that I counted his stock the first year I went there. As I recall, my report was that his range was, most of it at least, in fair to good condition. In other words, I felt that it wasn't too badly overstocked. But there were some other allotments there I know were real bad. So I imagine that the heavy use by stock probably did have some effect on holding the fires down in that type of country where it's mostly brush and grass. But we were not concerned.
I guess I can tell this on myself now since the years have gone by and I'm not in the Forest Service. Came Fourth of July; I made arrangements with someone at the store to call me if anything happened and I took off up to Payson to take in the Fourth-of-July celebration. I had no fires, and how I happened to not get fired, or anyone know about it, I don't know to this day. The Ranger up there was at the rodeo, too, and we had a big time. I guess we figured if we had a fire, why we'd get around to take care of it when we heard about it. Maybe Luck rode along with us, or maybe we weren't so fire-conscious as we became in later years.
What about the attitude of the permittees?
I got along fine with the permittees. I always enjoyed working with stockmen. It had been a pert of my life, in growing up. There were times when I had to talk to them about care of the ranges which, of course, we did all the time actually.
I found out early in my time with the Forest Service that you could usually get better results, better cooperation, from the stocknen if you didn't go out and tell 'em how to run their organization, but try to show 'em what was the matter with the ranges and encourage 'em to take better care of the ranges by either getting better distribution or through developing water, or pastures, drift fences, etc. Or, in a lot of cases, by taking non-use for a few years to see if their range would come back.
I know I counted George Cline's outfit when I first went there. As I recall, he had a permit for around 1,800 at that time. He felt like we had made a real good count. He estimated a five percent miss. We made a check-count in the fall. I went back and rode again and made a check-count, and we picked up three percent; so we agreed on the two percent that we had originally estimated, so that's the way we wound up. I felt we had had a pretty good count on his range and I made no recommendation for a reduction in his preference at that time. So apparently his range wasn't in too bad shape.
Those old-timers were just neighbors to me. I could ride a horse fairly well and knew what range life was and knew what cowboy life was. I'd get out and make a hand with those cowboys, help 'em brand their calves and round up their cattle whenever I could things like that, that didn't take much extra time but they seemed to appreciate it. By doing little things like that for them, I think a man could get a little better cooperation.
At least, I always put it up to them this way, "Why don't you try this? If it don't work, I'll concede that it isn't worth a darn. If it does work, then how about going ahead with it?" For instance, salting. They used to salt right on water, and we'd say, "No, we don't mean for you to salt away from water; we mean for you to salt out where the feed is best, out where the feed is good."
Well, a lot of those old boys were pretty set in their ways, and they thought that was absolutely the wrong thing to do. But I got a lot of them to try it by just tellin' 'em that, "OK, just put it back a quarter of a mile, or half a mile, just a short ways, and see if it will pull your cattle away from water. If it will help any, why that will help your range, give you better distribution. If it doesn't, why then I'll concede that I'm wrong and you can put it back where it was."
But I never had any of 'em come back and tell me that I was wrong. So I think it must have worked. In a lot of cases I know it did help.
Crawford, in those days, were they working cattle with dogs?
George Cline worked cattle with dogs. He had one hound, just one hound-dog, one red hound. That was my first experience with working cattle with dogs. My dog would never help at all in working cattle. That's where I was initiated in usin' dogs, there on the Tonto.
George had this red hound and he'd pick up the trail of these wild cattle and the cattle were pretty wild in those days in that brushy country, and they were pretty hard to get. This hound was really worth his weight in gold because he'd trail up these wild cows and bay 'em until we could get around 'em. We'd start 'em off and if one of 'em broke out and was gone, why George would just tell this red dog to go get 'em, and this dog would run 'em off down the hillside into a canyon, and bay 'em again. We'd take the little bunch down there and pick that one up again, and eventually we'd get 'em on in. Very seldom would we have to do any roping or leadin in. I was pretty well convinced that at least a hound was a good dog to have in that country.
Later on I worked with some stockmen, in fact, the Laney's on the Silver City District, here in New Mexico, that used dogs. Oh, I believe they had one hound that they used sometimes, but they usually used shepherds. They would get the job done, but they're really hard on cattle. They'd tear the cattle up and I think made them a lot meaner than they actually would've been if they hadn't used the dogs.
Of course, they were able to gather 'em, but certainly hard on cattle and made the calves mean and the cattle mean, and I certainly was never in favor of using dogs to whip cattle in this country. But a hound will trail 'em up and bay 'em, and that, I think, is fine. It works fine and saves a lot of hard riding and a lot of time especially in gathering wild cattle, like they were at that time.
Well, from Punkin Center, where did you go?
Rangers are transferred pretty fast nowadays, but it seems that I was transferred pretty fast, too. The ranger the following year at Reynolds Creek, Bob Stewart, resigned, and I was transferred to the old Reynolds Creek Ranger Station, which is in the Sierra Ancha Mountains, and which, of course, has since been abandoned. I spent from January only until August of that year, but it was a pretty busy year there as I recall. We had several fence crews going around Roosevelt Lake and other places, and I know I spent a lot of time away from home. Of course, travel was all by horseback in those days.
I did have a fire lookout tower on the old Reynolds Creek District; in fact, I had two lookouts and one Fire Guard during that season. But as I remember, we had no fires of any size, maybe eight or ten acres, something of that sort. I think during the summertime I did have a small trail crew, which in those days of course were used a lot for fighting fires. In fact, we depended on them an awful lot because it was hard to get anybody else into those isolated areas.
In August of that year I was offered a job back down at the Experiment Station just south of Tucson, the old Range Reserve. Matt Cully apparently liked my work down there, the summer I'd worked down there before, so he asked me to come back.
He called me by phone after he had written a letter to see if I would sure take the job, and I made the statement since he was offering me a raise of $25 a month; that was something you didn't get very often in those days. A $300-a-year raise was a little unusual and it sounded real good to me, but I did take it with the understanding that if within a few years I wanted to get back into administration, he wouldn't hold me back, he said, "Sure, I'll ... I won't bother you; I'll help you." So, I took the job.
And after about three years I decided that research wasn't for me; I'd rather be back in administration. However, I enjoyed the time I spent there and felt that I had got a lot of good experience in range work, because that was all we did, of course. But I had a longing to get back on a horse and get back where I could do something besides count grass.
Anyway, about 1934, soon after the CCCs started, there was a telephone call from Albuquerque to our main office in Tucson, to Cully. They offered me a job taking this "Showboat" around, that they used during the CCC days; you know, an educational program. Matt Cully took it upon himself to tell them that Riggs wouldn't be interested in that. So they forgot me, and got Willard McDowell, over on the Kaibab, to take the job.
Matt came out to the station that week-end, four or five days after this call, and very casually said, "Oh, by the way, the Regional Office called and offered you a job running the Showboat, but," he said, "I told "em that I didn't think you wanted it." Well, I almost hit the ceiling. I said, "Matt, that's what I've been wanting, to get into something, and I believe that would have been pretty good experience for me." Well, that got away; I went into town but was too late. Willard McDowell had accepted and that was it. So I had to stick it out two more years. I spent five years down there.
Then I was offered a District on the Prescott, so in April 1935, I transferred to the Prescott; Sycamore, east of Prescott about 30 miles. Euel Nave's father was the Forest Supervisor there at that time, Jake Nave. Reuben Boone was the Assistant Supervisor. That was my first time to work with Reuben.
This was a grazing district almost entirely. Around the little community of Cherry we had a little timber and I sold a few mine props and a little wood, but otherwise the work was all grazing there. I ran into the same old hardshell stockmen there that I had run into on the Tonto, but I never had any trouble with them. They were very fine neighbors, some of the best friends I ever had. They'd do anything for you or give you anything they had. I enjoyed it very much there; did a lot of riding; horseback riding, of course, and a lot of punchin' cows with the cowboys, and after two years, in '37, I was transferred to the North Kaibab.
I remember I went over there to look at the District. In those days they'd let you go look at a District before you accepted. They didn't say, "You'll go," or "Will you go?" They said, "We have an opening and if you think you'd like it, why not go take a look at it?" and they paid our expenses too, furnished us a car. We'd go look the District over and let 'em know.
Anyway, I went over it was the middle of February went over to Jacob Lake, met the Forest Supervisor and the Ranger. At Jacob Lake there were four and a half feet of snow on the level. So I could see what kind of country I was gettin' into again, about like McNary. Of course the headquarters, the District headquarters of the North Kaibab, were at Kanab, Utah. The Ranger lived at the old Big Springs Ranger Station in the summertime, and at Kanab, Utah, in the winter.
Dean Earl, who is now here working with us in the State Forestry Department, in charge of forestry management, was the Assistant Ranger on the North Kaibab when I went over there and took the District. That was a very interesting time. I spent almost five years on the North Kaibab.
The old die-off of the deer and the killing of the excess deer on the North Kaibab were still fresh in the mind of all the people in that country at that time. This die-off and kill had been some seven or eight years, or anyway five or seven years. I'd say, previous to the time I went there, that this herd had been so radically reduced. What actually caused the reduction has been a matter of conjecture, I think, a good many times. Of course, overgrazing and starvation had been the cause of a lot of it and then a lot of disease had got in among the deer, and then of course the Forest Service killed a lot of deer, tried to kill a lot of 'em to reduce the numbers. All in all, I guess they did reduce the herd some 150,000 to 200,000 head in that area over a period of several years.
When I went up there I believe the estimated number was around 20,000 or 25,000 deer. They had regular hunting camps, controlled hunting, during the time I was there. The State issued a hunting permit and the Forest Service also issued a permit. The permit was good for one deer, any type or class.
The range conditions, as I say, when I went there, appeared to be just starting to come back. You could still see the old deer line in the brush and trees, about four to six feet high. I was there five years and when I left you could hardly see the deer line, which shows how fast, how quickly, the country can recuperate, when you reduce your grazing animals. Of course, they have always kept the number of livestock pretty well down in order to take care of this deer herd.
That was a very interesting period of my life, too. I felt that I got quite a lot of experience in game management there. The hunting, of course, was easy for anyone who knew how to hunt, because deer were plentiful, and you could pick your deer about any place you wanted to.
There were a lot of studies going on.
A lot of studies, Harlan Johnson was there at that time making some deer studies. In fact, he was there the whole time I was there.
Dean and Harlan and I, plus a doctor in Kanab, were the only foreigners, you might say, that lived in Kanab at the time. All the rest were good Mormon people from Utah. We got along fine, too. We all enjoyed working with these people and never had any trouble at all. They were very fine to us in every way.
Walter Mann was the Forest Supervisor. Of course the headquarters for the Forest was at Williams, and the North Kaibab District was over 200 miles away. It took quite some time to get there. We had the old SPF ["Semiportable Fone", described in Radio for the Fireline (Gray, 1982: FS 369)] radio set at that time which I finally got set up at Kanab so that I could talk to Williams and save a few expensive telephone calls.
However, when I first went there, Walter Mann, that was more or less his pet, that District over there, and we got along real well for quite a long time, In fact, I had some nice letters from Walter about handling the District, and all. However, just before I was transferred, the spring before I was transferred in the fall, we made a deer count. It so happened that that winter a letter had come out of the Regional Office saying that the District Ranger would henceforth make out the wildlife report. Previous to that, the Game man had been making out the wildlife report.
Harlan and I worked very close on this. In fact, before the report was sent in, I checked with Harlan and asked him if everything looked OK, if it looked good to him. We agreed on the whole report. But apparently Walter Mann didn't like the way the report was sent in, because he came back pretty soon with a letter criticizing my estimate of the deer herd on the North Kaibab. Actually, it wasn't my estimate. It was an estimate of several of us who had worked together and ridden together and made the count that year.
Anyway, he didn't seem to think that I was doing the right kind of job over there so he thought I ought to transfer. I thought if he felt that way about it, why I wasn't the game man he wanted there so I'd better get out. So I asked for a transfer and was then transferred to the Mimbres on the Gila.
Well, before we get away from the North Kaibab, how about the local people up there; what was their reaction to the big game herd on the North Side?
Oh, there was a bit of hard feelings, of course, but they didn't appear to hold any grudge or anything of that sort. They felt that they should have had permits, some of them who actually had no basis for a permit in the first place. Their permits had been cancelled just before I was moved there. But they actually had no basic property and they had no other means for taking care of their cattle, outside of the public domain, and so they were really not entitled to a permit. There were naturally some hard feeling, but permittees who did have an established preference on property and all, I never heard much said.
Even those that had to be reduced to make room for the deer?
Yeah, they had to be reduced to make room for the deer and, of course, some of 'em, as I say, made some remarks. But still I think they felt after all that even though they themselves would like to have had more cattle, they felt that the game herd was worth a lot to the country and that it was a fine game area and, personally, I never heard too much, actually, against it. Like you might have, you know. It just wasn't as bad as it could have been.
When I went there I encouraged some of the stocknen to build some stock tanks and try to get a little better distribution. As you know, water was a real scarce thing on the North Kaibab. They did need more water, and until I went there, they had not been encouraged to build tanks. I don't know just why they had been restricted on building stock tanks, unless some of the Forest Service felt that if they didn't encourage them that they might be able to reduce their herds a little more.
But I went ahead, not knowing the feeling, and I think that's another reason Walter Mann didn't like my management. I did try to help the stocknen and get more water developed, and I think he felt that maybe that I was not so much in favor of the game herd. However, I was. I really felt like it could be used for both; that it could be used for stock and also maintain the game herd. It is wonderful game country; I don't think there's any better deer country in the Southwest.
I had a little experience there with Mr. Roy Woolly, who was quite a prominent stockman there at that time. We caught him in trespass with about 200 head of cattle, flatfooted let me go back a little.
Before this, several years in fact, when I first went to the North Kaibab, Roy Woolly had a trespass hanging over his head. Didn't amount to very much, I think, $20, and Walter Mann had told me to collect this money if I possibly could, any way I could. So, when they got ready to make their roundup, about the first of May this year, why I went up to their camp which was only a few miles above the Ranger Station, and made myself acquainted with Woolly and his cowboys, et cetera, and had quite a visit with them that evening.
Roy proceeded to tell me how the Forest Service had abused him and how they had followed him around tryin' to catch him with one or two in trespass. I told him I didn't have time to follow him around for one or two trespasses, that if he had any that amounted to anything I expected to do something about it. He said, "Well, if you'll treat me right, I'll treat you right," and I said, "Well, that's fair enough for me."
About two years after this they moved Roy's permit over on the east side of the Plateau. Then a year after that, about the time Roy was rounding up in the fall, he called me and asked me if he could hold his cattle on another permittee's allotment while he was gathering, for about a week. And I said, "No." because it was a key spot on this man's range. It was near water and some of the best range he had. To hold anywhere from a hundred to 300 head of cattle on this key area was not hardly the thing to do. So I told him no, he'd just have to make arrangements to herd 'em or something outside.
Well, a few days after that, one of the boys, Dave Scott, who later came over as my Assistant on the North Kaibab, was at the hunting camp at Kane, on the east side of the mountain where Roy was wantin' to hold his cattle. I told Dave that if anything didn't look right in those cattle, or if any cattle showed up in there, to give me a call. One night he gave me a call, said it looked like there was a lot more cattle than there was supposed to be. The next morning I went over there as soon as I could, and found this 200 head on this other man's allotment. Roy wasn't there.
I asked his cowboy where he was and he said, well, he was down at a filling station on the highway, he thought he would be there after a while. So we counted the cattle and then went back to this filling station. There was a little cafe there, so we went in to have a cup of coffee, and Roy walked in. When he saw me his color changed and he blushed and immediately came over to me and said, "I just had to do this; I just had to put these cattle on there. I had no other place to put 'em."
I let him talk a little bit, and then I said, "Roy, you know what I told you, that you couldn't do that. And remember what you told me a few years ago about being fair to one another?" Well, he still tried to make excuses but he finally said, "Well, I really don't have any excuse. Figure out what I owe you and I'll pay you right now." Well, I didn't think that was hardly the thing to do, to have him pay me right there. Actually I didn't think that I had the authority. So I said, "No, I'll figure it up and make out the report and let you know."
I made up the report and sent it in to the Supervisor's office, who approved it. Then it was sent to the Regional Office where it bounced back saying that they felt that Walter Mann and myself should apologize to this permittee for not being more accommodating to him in taking care of his cattle, more friendly to him. Well, Walter Mann immediately came over to me and showed me the letter and said, "Are you going to apologize?" and I said, "No". And he said, "Well, I'm not either." So that was the last of that.
Of course in the interim they had written a show-cause letter to Mr. Woolly and he put up a lame excuse that he had been so terribly abused by the Forest Service in the past that he felt they were carrying it a little too far not to let him use this area for this short a time. Well, that's the way the ball bounces, and that's what happened. Mr. Woolly paid nothing, never paid a thing. However, Roy never held it against me; he was always very good to me. I think he felt like he was just as guilty as could be and he certainly was very good to me from then on. I never caught him in any more trespasses. But it was quite a let-down to me to have it turn out that way.
Well, anyway, I left the Kaibab in November 1941; arrived at the Mimbres on November 16, to be exact. Took Euel Nave's place; he was transferred to Arizona. That had been one of the best years for moisture, I guess, that the State of New Mexico had ever had, at least since they kept any records. The average rainfall for the State for that year was double. The Mimbres District looked like Paradise and I thought, "My Gosh, what a fine country; water running in every canyon." But after two or three years I found out that it wasn't that way all the time. We had some pretty dry years after that.
I spent almost seven years on the Mimbres. It was the longest I ever spent on one District. In '48, I was transferred to the Glenwood District.
Before I left the Mimbres I had quite an experience with the biggest cow outfit on the Mimbres, the old GOS Cattle Company. Hub Estes was the Manager. After I had been there about a year I could see that that range was pretty badly overstocked. They either had a lot of cattle in trespass, or else their preference was a lot higher than the range would carry. When I talked to the permittee about it, that's what I told him.
I said, "It's one of two things, Hub; you've either got too many cattle or your preference is away too high. The range won't carry this many cattle." "Well, he says, "What do you think you'll do about it?": I said, "Well, I think we're gonna have to reduce your preference, however you want to do it." Well, it got him to worrying.
One day he came to the Station and asked me what I thought about his dividing up; it was a company at that time. He and the Adams family owned the old ranch. I told him I thought it would be an excellent idea if they broke this ranch up. It was actually too big to be handled like it should be handled. If it was broken up, it could be divided and fenced and a lot better management could be gotten. I guess Hub thought about it.
Anyway, he talked it over and in '43 they did divide the ranch. I divided the range according to the best of my ability, three ways, and Hub was to get a third. The headquarter ranch was naturally located to go into the east division. Hub was a pretty smooth talker. He talked Old Man Adams into letting him have this east end. Well, Hub managed to come out of it, I think, $20,000 or $25,000 better off than the rest of them in the trade, but anyway that's just good trading, I guess.
I told him we were gonna have to count the cattle, and he says, "Well, I think we'll just sell all the cattle, just sell all the cattle off and start from scratch." I said, "Well, I think that's a wonderful idea. Sell 'em off and you can all give your range a chance to rest and you can all start out and get good management and have a good outfit." So, for three years, they gathered cattle off that range. After the cattle count was finished and the cattle were all shipped, we made an estimate we rode the range, Reuben Boone and myself and made an estimate of the stock left on the range. Hub Estes agreed with me; the estimated miss, as I recall, was around 20% excess.
The nice thing about that count was that that the brand inspector counted all the cattle as they were being shipped. I went down to the stockyards every time they shipped and counted with the brand inspector. We had an excellent record there. The owners didn't have much to argue about the actual cattle count, and surprisingly they went along with us on the estimated miss. But they decided they didn't want to pay the trespass, which amounted to something like $18,000. So they were going to take it to court.
We came to Albuquerque and the Forest Service then agreed to a compromise settlement. I believe the company had to pay about $13,000, and the case was closed equitably for everybody concerned. We felt like we'd got something out of it, although I think we probably could have won the case, but there's always a possibility that we might not have.
On the Mimbres District there's one thing I recall; 1946 was the first year that smokejumpers were used in Region 3. They were stationed at Deming. Bill Cole, the District Ranger at Beaverhead, was the coordinating officer down there at Deming. I do remember this, that I used the smokejumpers on the first jump on a fire in Region 3.
Where was it?
Just east of Reed's Peak, about two miles. That was the first jump, on the Gila.
Did they get it?
They got it. It was a lightning fire and the lookout reported it. It just happened that I had the first one that came along, so they tried 'em out, and they took care of it.
While I think about it, I believe I was the first one to use borate in Region 3. When I was on the Tonto in '58 I used borate on a fire just southwest of Miami. I know that was the first borate that was dropped on the Tonto. That's just a first.
While I was on the Mimbres during the War it was hard for us to get help so we used high school boys for our lookouts and for standby crews. We had a standby crew there at Mimbres, and the oldest boy was seventeen, the youngest was fourteen. I had old Clarence Tipton who was an ex-cowboy, and he was a fellow that gets along real well with people and especially boys, because he could tell some awfully good stories. He trained those boys, that is, with some of the rest of us helping.
Clarence was in charge of the crew and, believe me, they worked for him. They'd do more work than that many men, I'm sure. He'd work up some sort of competition with them, groups of 'em, and they'd really work hard, to see if they couldn't do better than the other group. We had a very fine crew there for a couple of years during the War when Clarence was in charge of them.
Well, in '48 Ole Olson was transferred to the Cloudcroft District on the Lincoln. Bill Beveridge was Supervisor at that time. I figured they were going to transfer me before very long because I had been on this District quite a long time, about seven years, in fact, so I asked for the Glenwood District. I felt that I would like to stay on the Gila. I was transferred to the Glenwood District in May of '48, and I spent just a year on the Glenwood District. Then the Wilderness District came open; Harvey Barlow resigned and I took the Wilderness District. That was in '49, April 1949.
Things went along pretty well until a little incident happened along in August of 1949. I won't mention too many names. A man from the Regional Office, a grazing man on an inspection, Stan Wallace, Grazing man on the Forest, and Johnny Mazzette, District Ranger on the Beaverhead District, and myself were riding down the Middle Fork. We saw a hog.
This man from the Regional Office said, "Whose District is this on, this hog?" I said, "Well, I guess it's mine. It's on the west side of the river, and the Districts are divided by this river." He made the remark that were he came from, in the Northwest they just shot those things to get 'em out of the way. I said, "Well, maybe that's what we should do here." Somebody else said, "I think it's a good idea," so the crazy bunch of us set in to destroy the hog. Which we did but to our sorrow.
We had nothing malicious in mind. We didn't feel that the hog belonged to anyone in particular. We felt that it had strayed off of some ranch which had to have been several miles from there. We had no idea that anyone actually claimed the hog. There was no mark or brand of any sort on it, but that didn't relieve us of responsibility in disposing of this trespass hog. Some fellow made the remark that it was in trespass. We weren't justified in disposing of trespass stock in that way.
It did stir up quite a little controversy with the owner, who accidentally found out that we had killed his hog. The owner tried to put a little pressure on the Supervisor, and there was quite a little controversy about it. There was a later investigation and all of us were reprimanded of course, even though we tried to make a settlement with the owner and paid them more than the hog was worth, to get the settlement made. It was really quite hard on some of the Forest Service employees. It didn't hurt the Rangers too much, because they were less responsible, I guess, than the higher-ups. But it was one of those sad situations that do occur occasionally.
I kinda have a hunch that any other group of men probably would have done the same thing under the same circumstances, although a lot of them say they wouldn't have. But I guess everybody has a little idea to do things sometimes that may not quite be down the straight line. Anyway, that was a little bit rough on all of us for a while. Some of us lived it down pretty well after a few years. Some of the others left the Forest Service. It was kind of a bad situation and I felt very bad about it for a long time, and I know the others did too. It was just one of those sad things that we run into as we go along.
While I was on the Wilderness District I was getting along pretty good for the first couple of years. Didn't have any large fires to amount to anything. Then the dry year of '51 came along and the McKnight fire started on the Mimbres, and the Escudilla fire on the Apache, and another fire down at Globe, and another one up here in the northern part of the State on State and private lands. Anyway, there were about four large fires going when mine started on Little Creek.
Of course you were there at the time; you know the headaches you had there for about two or three weeks. I couldn't get any help there for the first three days. All the Indians were on the other fires and I had Doc Campbell and some school boys out of Silver City, the first three days.
There was quite a sad thing happened there, too. One fellow came out and joined the group, and the next morning after he got there at the little camp we'd set up, he became very ill. We had to pack him out on stretchers; packed him eight miles to get him to a car, then took him to a hospital in Silver City where he died shortly after. Don't know whether you recall that or not, I think it was ulcers, ruptured ulcers.
And then, come to think about it, the lookout on Hillsboro Peak died that year, Then that fall the fire lookout that had been on Little Creek for about twelve years, died of a heart attack while he was doing some trail work. So that was quite a bad year for the Gila.
I guess we must've burned over nearly 60,000 acres that year, which I think was probably about the worst year that Region 3 had ever had, and probably the worst they've had on the Gila. We had the smokejumpers there, but we just have those fires sometimes when the jumpers just can't stop it. Once they started, in that type of country, you just can't get enough smokejumpers or any other sort of equipment up on some of those areas, to stop it until they get a divide, or the wind changes, or the weather changes some way to help you out; you just don't stop those kinds of fires.
I think I enjoyed the Wilderness District as much as any, even though I did have some bad fires there. It was wonderful country to be in during the summertime; wonderful country to hunt in, and fish, if you were a fisherman. I wasn't much of a fishermen but I know a lot of Forest Service men did like to come out and fish and hunt. It was a very nice time; a very nice period.
Then in '56, Les Jackson was transferred and I took Lea's place on the Silver City District. In the meantime I had bought a home in Silver; my family was living in Silver City. So I spent three years in Silver City on that District. I don't recall anything special except that I enjoyed that the same as I had any other District. In fact, any District I've been on I've always liked and never felt that I'd regret going back again if necessary.
Euel Nave was on the Clifton District, and I followed him, when he transferred to Magdalena. Although I didn't think too much of the District, I felt that I could stand the Grade 11, so I took it.
Here again I ran into a bunch of old hard-nosed stockmen that were just as rough, or a shade rougher, than any I had ever run into. In fact, it seems that about every District has one or two or three men who always give you a rough time. But, all in all, the people I have worked with while in the Forest Service I liked and enjoyed very much. But over there we had two or three boys that were sure rough.
Maybe if I'd's stayed there things might have popped pretty good in another year or two. It so happened that I didn't stay but a little over a year. The Globe District opened up and I was transferred to Globe; took John Waters' place. Spent my last two years with the Forest Service there back on the old Tonto where I had actually started as a Ranger.
I can say this: even with all the mistakes I made in the Forest Service I don't regret anything I did. I enjoyed a very happy time during my career with the Forest Service; I hold no grudges or nothing of that sort at all. I certainly enjoyed it. If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably do the same thing over.
Just one more question, Crawford. In your experience in the Forest Service, and now in State Forestry, what do you think of the Federal Forest Service policies? Are we doing the conservation job?
Well, let me put it this way. They're still trying, I think, just as hard as they always did. I feel that the majority of the men in the Forest Service are definitely dedicated to conservation work. Of course, in any large organization you get men occasionally that you feel aren't good for the organization, but as a general thing I think most of the men in the Forest Service are just as dedicated now as they were years ago.
As I said a moment ago, their thinking is different from mine, and it probably has to be.
Sometimes I think that the Ranger is not able to make as close contacts with forest users as he needs to make, or as we used to make when we had a little more time on our hands. Of course he has so many pressure jobs now, you might say, with all the recreation developments, timber problems, grazing problems why he has a bigger job than we used to have. Of course he has a lot more help.
I don't know, but I do feel that maybe he has lost a little touch. Maybe it will eventually work out; it's bound to. But there is a little loss there; has been over the past few years, between the Forest Service people and the Forest users. They're not as close as they used to be. They don't know each other, to call 'em by their first names. They don't stop and 'whittle' as much as they used to and things of that sort. But I think probably the stockmen are changing, too, so the whole thing is going through this big change. It will probably work out OK.
I think the Forest Service is doing the best job they can do. I know that they're handicapped. I know all the time I was in the Forest Service we were handicapped. There are a lot of things in the way of conservation that the Forest Service people want to do but they either don't have the money or they don't have the backing. There's too much pressure from outside. After all, they can t go ahead arbitrarily and do a lot of things they'd like to do, and know are the best to do. I think it's a fine organization.
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