Mr. Willard Bond, a Boston Yankee, is a graduate of Bates College and the Yale Forestry School. He arrived In District 3 in 1924, and was assigned to the Coconino National Forest to work on the Arizona Lumber and Timber Company sale. Bill was interviewed at his home in Nambe, New Mexico. Mr. Robert Ground was also present at the Interview, and contributed to the stories.
My first work was on a timber sale. Fred Merkle broke me in. Fred gave me instructions for, oh, a week or so, on scalin'. I'd never done any scalin'. I worked with Kim Carlisle. I remember I stayed there until along in December; that's when I went to the Carson.
They took me out to the Hallock & Howard sale on the Carson. Bill Daugherty was in charge of that sale. Bill and I scaled logs all over. Lee Wang was Ranger at the old Borracho Ranger Station. Along about the middle of the winter, Bill went into the office at Taos and that left me alone there. Sure had my hands full for a while.
That was railroad logging?
Yeah; that was the narrow gauge. They came off the old Chile line at La Madera and went up by La Madera through Vallecitos to Taos Junction. They did railroad logging with a vengeance. Sometimes they didn't have any brakes on those things and I don't think I ever rode on it; I was afraid they'd have a wreck.
What was the situation like?
Bill and I had a little old timber sale shack, rough board shack, about 14 by 16; two rooms. I remember we used to get up every morning all winter and melt snow or ice so we'd have water to wash our faces. I recall that the cook shack burned down. Gosh, we woke up; I don't remember what time it was, but it was real early in the morning though, still dark, and we heard this woman screaming and saw the light on the side of the cabin. We dressed and went out and the whole danged cook shack was goin' up in a blaze.
Did you eat in the cook shack?
We ate in the cook shack, and of course some of the meals there were pretty hearty. Always for lunch she'd hard-fry a bunch of eggs; wrap 'em up in some of those cold pancakes, and that was what we usually made out with for our lunch.
The snow got pretty deep up in that country?
Pretty deep, especially on the north slopes. As a matter of fact, that winter that we were there, the winter of '24 - '25, we marked timber on those cold north slopes and, if I remember right, we wore snowshoes. It was more snow than I've seen in New Mexico since. But, of course, we'd get up on top of a ridge to have our fried-egg and pancake lunch, and it would be pretty nice there.
Where did you go from that sale, Bill?
From that sale I went out to Flagstaff to that 1925 Ranger school. Then after that I went down to Prescott, with Lou Smith. Lou and I worked together that fall. He was getting dope for a bidding that was being planned for that country around Walnut Creek. Walter Nicholson, I believe, was Ranger then. I didn't stay very long on the Prescott. From there I went to the Lincoln, to the Mesa Ranger Station.
I went back to the Carson and bought that old long-legged, balkin' horse, the one Lee Wang still crows about sellin' me. Of course, Lee doesn't tell some of the other stories. He doesn't tell about that horse he traded for, that three-legged horse, but he still crows about sellin' me that dog gone long-legged horse. He was 17 hands high; oh, he was high, and long!
I went back there and raffled him off at that timber sale camp. I had given Lee $100 for him; I think I was lucky when I got $35 from the raffle. But anyway we got rid of the horse. I sure didn't want to take him to the Lincoln with me.
My first station on the Lincoln was with Bob Ewing there at the old Mesa Ranger Station. I was Assistant Ranger with Bob. I spent about a year there as Assistant Ranger on the Mesa, and then I went on the Capitan District in the spring of '27 as Ranger.
Was the Station right there in town, at the edge of town, where it is now?
No; no, it was up there at the old Baca Station, the old Baca ranch headquarters. They called that the Honeymoon Ranger Station. Seemed like every Ranger that went there spent their honeymoon there.
It was just an old board Station. As I remember, it didn't even have a sink in it. I know it didn't have any plumbing facilities. It had a cistern, and the rats and mice used to get into it. I wrote to Fred Arthur about that. I told him, "That thing needs a new top on it," and he couldn't understand why I had to have a new cistern top. I told him, "Fred, you come with me and I'll show you." I went out and drew up a bucket of water and just threw it out on the top, and it just drizzled right on down into the cistern. Fred says, "You win; we'll put a new top on it." And he did.
* * * * * * * * * *
From the Use Book - 1906. "Annual Ranger Meetings. The time and place of the meeting will be left to the discretion of the Supervisor, who may combine with the Supervisor of adjacent reserves.
* * * * * * * * * *
That was the only District I had on the Lincoln. They abolished the Capitan District when I left there. They combined it with the White Mountain. That was the time they were makin' these enormous big Districts. I had the one at Capitan and one at Alpine. That one at Alpine was so darned big that I know there was a lot of it I never did see.
That was a hot fire District, too.
Yeah, but I was lucky. I think 40 or 50 acres was the biggest fire I ever had there at Alpine. But I had a crackin' good guard force. Roy Swapp had been Ranger there before, and Roy had already trained 'em. Oren Reynolds was there, and Oren knew the country.
Without those fellows I'd'a been completely lost. But as it was, we had two full seasons there and never did have a bad fire. We had lots of fires, lots of fires, but they were able to get on 'em and get 'em out quick. Those fellows sure knew the country and knew their business. I didn't teach those fellows anything about fires; they taught me.
Then from Alpine, did you go into the office?
Yeah; I went directly into the Springerville office, from Alpine.
Did Lee Beall tell you about the time the tent fell down on us?
Oh, Lee should've told you about that. It was in March, I think, of '26, late March. We had a Fire school, I don't remember exactly where it was, but it was away up on top somewhere. All the Rangers on the Lincoln were there. We had instructions and mock fires; Hugh Calkins was there from the Regional Office, and Jim Mullin.
We went to bed one night and I remember I woke up and was kinda suffocated. I couldn't think what was goin' on; it just kept pushin' in on me 'til I knew something had to happen. I'd gone to bed with my pants on. I reached down and got my jack-knife out. I reached up; I could feel this over me. I reached up and cut the tent and rose up, and, By Golly, we had I don't remember how much snow, but a couple of feet, anyway! I never will forget it.
I looked across at Lee, and he'd done the same thing I had. He had cut his way out, too, and he was sittin' there in just his undershirt and he was pickin' snow, pickin' snow out of his bedroll. About that time we heard George Messer. He was yelling, "You have to help me out, boys, I can't stand it much longer." Vance Thomas says, "George, where are you? Sounds like you're way down in a cave. And, sure 'nough, we reached in and pulled George out.
I remember I rode Dick Gault's horse out of there. The snow was so darned deep, that this big tall horse of Dick's could just make it through those drifts.
Bob Ground: I can tell you when I was initiated in the Forest Service. It was on the 9th day of April, 1917. We started out on a job and the snow was still pretty deep on the San Antone, there in the country, and we went down to the crick the crick was comin' up high and we crossed it in a hack, a two-horse outfit hack.
The water had cut out a channel in the crick, and this old horse stepped in that channel there and the water run over his back. We pulled out on the other side; we bounced across, but on down a mile or so further we had to cross another canyon. We got out in the middle of this canyon and the snow was about that deep, and we got out there and this old hack just settled right down in the snow. So we had to get out.
One of the horses balked. We had to get out and shovel that whole thing off; take the horses loose and hook 'em on at the end of the tongue and pull it out on the other side. Well, we got out of there and got on down to the San Antone Mountain. There were a few little dry spots where the wind had blown the snow off; it was late then and we camped there. The wind blew hard, and we couldn't keep the covers on, so we spent all night tryin' to keep the covers on. We put some rocks on the edge of the covers, but we about froze to death.
Then next day we went back. We didn't do a darned thing but just go out there and back, and fight snow. That was the first day's work; first two days' work in my Forest Service life.
That was your introduction?
Yeah, my introduction.
Willard Bond: I suppose one of the big differences in Forest Service work now from what it was when I first knew it, is the availability of transportation. Gosh, when I first worked, Rangers just weren't furnished cars. In fact, we didn't have any cars. I think the Carson had one Ford pickup when I went there, and the Lincoln was in about the same shape.
Of course we got some mileage, when we finally got a Model T Ford, and drove that on a mileage basis. We only collected about a third of what we actually ran. It didn't run too much then because we didn't have the roads. We didn't have the highways to get around on. You simply had to get on your pony and take out. When I was at the Baca Ranger Station, that's what I used to do. I'd leave Monday morning, make a complete round of the mountain, and come back in on Friday night. Sometimes I wouldn't get back in on Friday. That was the only way you could get around.
Another thing, you really got to know your permittees, 'cause you put up with 'em.
I remember I used to take off from that Mesa Ranger Station and go up on the Ancho, that Ancho country, horseback. I remember one night I stayed up there was an old German named George Weishen who used to run a store up there on top of Jacks Peak, Jacks Peak from Ancho. I got in there, it was snowin' to beat the band, and he wasn't there.
There was a fellow runnin' his store and I said, "How about puttin' up here for the night?" Well, he kinda hemmed and hawed, and finally he told me, "Put your horse up in the shed and you can sleep in George's bed." Well, I didn't know what I was in for, but anyway I went in there and the place was so darned dirty, I never even took my boots off. I had a big sheepskin woolly coat and I kept that on.
I got on the bed and pulled the bedclothes up around me, and then I began to hear noises. The darned place was just alive with rats and mice. I think that was one of the most unpleasant nights I ever put in. I just couldn't wait until it began to get light in the morning. I went out and got on my old pony and rode down-country to Bryan Hightower's and got breakfast with him. But some of those things as you look back on them, they weren't too unpleasant. You remember the pleasant things, not the unpleasant.
Bob Ground: Of course you know about that horse story, didn't you, of Lee Wang's?
You see we were rounding up a bunch of horses on the Tres Piedras District, just before I had the District. Harry Naylor had it. Somehow or other, Harry Naylor had bought a horse and it had one bad leg. Anyway, he had the horse and it got out. So then we had a horse roundup, and in the roundup, why we rounded this horse up. Harry Naylor was the Ranger. They rounded up this horse, so Harry says, "Well, we'll put it up for sale, just the same as the rest of 'em." They put this horse up for sale and Lee Wang was up there, so he begin to bid on the horse. Harry told him, he says, "Lee, you don't want that horse; it's only got three legs." "Well, I want a tradin' horse," Lee Wang said, so he bid it up; I don't remember what he paid for the horse, but it seems to me it was something around $20; I'm not sure about it.
Anyway, he got the horse. He took it home, and he tried to trade it off down around Vallecitos, to some of those natives around there, but he didn't have any luck. They seemed to know more about horses than Lee did!
Then they had another roundup over on the Canjilon District. Jim Newton was Ranger over there. Lee went around tryin' to trade this horse and he couldn't find anybody to trade with except some people named Trujillo. They had a bunch of horses, so he finally talked up a trade, and got this cayuse, a wild little bronco. Lee traded his three-legged horse for this little wild cayuse.
When they got ready to leave, why they packed this little horse up. Jim Newton put the pack on, and he put in on to stay. Lee Wang started out ridin' his old, long-legged Sam horse, goin' off across the flats. I think Jim Newton was out there kinda shooin' the horse behind, 'cause the horse wouldn't lead. Finally, Lee got out of sight and Jim Newton came back. Some of the fellows sittin' on the corral fence there tellin' stories looked up and saw this little horse goin' across the flats there with the pack on him Old Lee Wang behind it, just givin' it heck, on his old Sam horse, tryin' to catch him! Of course, he didn't get him.
After 'while he came up to the corral there. Of course the fellows couldn't keep from laughin', 'cause they saw the whole show. Lee told 'em what happened; said he'd give $5 reward for the horse, or the outfit. Things drifted along there for a day or two, so he raised the ante, said he'd give $10, or something like that. Still nothin' happened. Finally, he raised the ante again and told 'em they could have the horse, just bring his bed back.
So about the time, Manuel Trujillo, went out and shot the horse and got the bed and brought the bed in to Lee and collected his reward. The rumor was I don't know whether there was any truth in it or not they said he shot a hole through his bed. That was the end of Lee Wang's horse-tradin'.
Early in April I had a wire from the Lolo National Forest asking me if I would accept a job, a probationary job, on the Lolo, beginning the middle of April. I wired back and said that I would. On the same day, the same afternoon, I had a wire from Albuquerque, New Mexico, signed by Mr. Hugh Calkins, asking me if I would accept a job on the Coconino National Forest, doing timber management work. I thought about how cold it was in Montana when I was up scalin' logs on Nine-Mile the night I left Montana it was 21 below zero! I thought how nice and warm it would be in the Southwest. I immediately wired Region 1, the Lolo, and told 'em that I had received an offer of a job on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. I apologized and told 'em that I didn't want their job, that I was goin' where it was warmer.
I reported to Williams, Arizona, on a Saturday, and at that time the offices worked Saturday morning. I walked over to the Forest office. Wally Dillon was the Administrative Assistant at that time. I talked to him and he asked me to stick around a little while, that Supervisor Kimball would come from a fire meeting that they were holding that week at the old Spring Valley Ranger Station.
I stayed and in a few minutes Supervisor Kimball, Assistant Supervisor W. T. Dougherty, Mr. Hugh Calkins, who at that time was Chief of Operations, and, I believe Mr. Stanley Wilson was also with them. Calkins at that time was leaving and I think Wilson was out just learning the ropes of the job. Talked for a few minutes with Kimball and he says, "Well, come back Monday morning and we'll put you to work." So I reported and I believe it was Easter Monday, April 11, 1925.
I reported Monday morning and they gave me a job staying at the Experiment Station in Flagstaff, and living in one of the barracks rooms there and eating with the Osburns, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Osburn, who were caretakers at the Experiment Station.
Every morning the logging train would come from Belmont to the logging camp. My job was to after the logging train went up the hill from the Experiment Station and after about an hour walk to the end of the track where they were loadin' logs, and carry a hoe, a rake, and a shovel on my shoulder, and a canteen of water. If there were any spot fires that the engine had started, it was my job to put them out. I walked to the end of the track. In an hour or so after they finished loading out the log cars, I would walk back down to the Station in the evening. If there were any spot fires, I was to put 'em out.
I was on this job for about 30 or 45 days while they were loadin' out the logs in the Wing Mountain area and gettin' ready to take the logs from Garland Prairie. During the time when the loggin' train didn't come to load logs, I did a little bit of work with Mr. G. A. Pearson, who was in charge of the Experiment Station at that time, and Mr. Herman Crouch, who were making studies around Fort Valley. Several times I counted the rings on stumps of trees that had been cut down and also assisted them in classification of trees, in the vicinity of Fort Valley.
Then I was moved to the logging camp at Garland Prairie and worked under Mr. Homer German, who was in charge of the sale, and Mr. Rex King, who was German's assistant. We marked timber and scaled logs in the Garland Prairie area during 1925. Then, in the spring of 1926, I was assigned to the Greer Ranger District on the Apache National Forest, as Assistant Ranger to Jesse T. Fears.
I reported to the Supervisor, Kenner Kartchner at Springerville. Kenner called me into his office and gave me a briefing on Fears. He told me that Jesse was an old-time, broncobustin' cowboy; that he was a hard worker and was hard for a college boy to get along with. He told me that I'd have to watch my "p"s and "q"s and to get along with Jesse the best I could; that he was a taskmaster and if he could run a college boy off the Forest, he'd do it.
Well, being a city boy, comin' from Pennsylvania, I had never been on a horse. Fears had come down from Greer horseback, and leadin' another horse. It was 18 miles or so from Springerville to Greer, the old Greer Ranger Station. Along in the middle of the afternoon Jesse and I got on the horses; I don't know how I got on because I'd never been on one before. But I did, and we started to Greer, Jesse on one horse and me following on another, and not knowin' how or what to do. But the irony of it was that Jesse's wife, Ruth, was also in town that day in their Dodge roadster, and she rode back alone, and I could have gone with her instead of ridin' a horse that 20 miles.
So, we got in in due time and Ruth had supper and I, at that time, lived at the old Ranger Station with the Fears and I enjoyed it very, very much. But the next morning, after that 20-mile ride, I was pretty sore and tired, and after breakfast it was a pretty early one, too Jesse took me down to the barn and saddled my horse for me and started me across a drift fence that went from Greer to the old road that comes out of Walter Canyon and goes up on top of the mountain. He said, "You follow this fence until you get to that road over there and then you turn around and come back," which is another 18 or 20-mile ride.
I said to Jesse, "As I go along, what am I supposed to look for?" He said, "You just go over there and come back." So I did, and came back late in the evening. In those days the old-time cowboys didn't take lunch with them. So I didn't have any lunch that day.
The next day Jesse didn't have anything else to do, and it was about time to put the lookout on Mt. Baldy, which is on the dividing line between the Apache Forest and the Apache Indian Reservation. We started out from Greer and went up to Baldy and when we got there we couldn't get within about 200 yards of the cabin on account of the deep snow. However, we waded up to the cabin and looked in and turned around and came back to Greer. I don't know what we went up there for, if anything, except to give me another ride.
We got to the Station that night, and next morning we started from Greer and went over to CC flats. We had a guard cabin over there, and also there was a little timber sale near there. A man by the name of Isaacson from St. Johns cut a few trees or logs every couple of weeks or so. We got to CC flats and from there we went down and marked a few trees for Mr. Isaccson. The next day we went down to Porter Springs which is right on the dividing line between the Apache and the Sitgreaves all this by horseback, and me so sore I could hardly move. The next day we came back to Greer. I think along in there someplace we should have had a Sunday. I remember we didn't do anything on Sunday.
The next day we started to work on telephone lines. Jesse and George Crosby and Wig Sharp and myself and I had never been on a pair of climbers before, either. The first tree they let me climb was about 50 inches in diameter, a big Douglas fir, and I was to go up and see if the line and the bracket were all right. They showed me how to throw a rope around the tree and go up. So I went up; the bracket was all right, so I came down, think I slid down the last six or eight feet. When I came down my knees were shakin'; I didn't think I'd ever get up another tree. We kept this up for three or four days.
Then after that, Jesse would take me out over the different allotments, looking at cattle grazin' and trespass stock. He seemed to have a few in some of those areas up there. The people weren't used to payin' for cattle, and didn't want to be told how many they could run. Throughout the summer I worked with Jesse on cattle rides and drives and marked timber.
We had a little old shingle mill right near Greer. A fellow by the name of Burke owned it, and I marked his trees. I did practically all of the timber sale work that was done on the Greer District that year. After 'while Jesse would let me ride horseback to CC flats by myself. I got so I could get out alone on a horse and get back without bein' too sore.
That fall, after workin' there all year, I was takin' my vacation. I went in to Albuquerque and stayed at the Alvarado Hotel. I had about ten days or so in Albuquerque. I was sittin' around the Alvarado lobby one day about noon and Mr. Calkins, who was Chief of Operations, came through the lobby goin' to lunch. He spotted me and came over and talked and said, "Well, what are you doin' here?" I said, "I'm on vacation."
He said, "When are you goin' to Arizona?" Well, at that time I was bein' transferred from the Apache National Forest, Greer District, to a timber sale on the south end of the Coconino. I was supposed to report there after January 1. Mr. Calkins asked me to come up to the office, which I did on Monday, reluctantly, because I hadn't been up there at all. I did finally go up to the office and Calkins said, "We want you to stay in here and help in grazing compilation work for the range reconnaissance on the Gila and the west end of the old Datil, now the Cibola Forest."
Along in March I got sick. It was beginning to be time to do spring work, so I was goin' to the Coconino. About that same time they were talkin' about opening up the first sale on the Sitgreaves, on the Lakeside District, out of McNary. It was the K-D Lumber Company sale. They were gonna start loggin' the Sitgreaves Forest that spring. So instead of my goin' to the Coconino, I was sent to McNary, to the old Las Burros Ranger Station on the McNary - Vernon road, about eight or ten miles north of McNary.
Everett Hamilton, who in later years was at the Experiment Station in California, and I lived in this cabin and batched there for several months. Shortly after I got there, Mr. Duncan Lang, who at that time was the logging engineer for the Region out of Albuquerque, came to the Sitgreaves to teach the timber sale men how to scale long logs.
I would like to say right here that Everett Hamilton and I were the first two men to scale long logs on a timber sale within the region. The first long logs were cut by K-D on the Sitgreaves in 1928 and, after several weeks of training, why we got more or less proficient in it and we kept up the scaling of the logs for some time.
One incident that I recall happened at the old Las Burros Ranger Station this spring. After a hard day's scaling in the mud and rain, we came into the old Las Burros Station. Everett Hamilton was chief cook at that time, and he was making a cake. He had it in the oven. Duncan Lang and I came in together. It had been rainin' off and on all day and we were cold and wet and hungry. We sat around for a little while and finally the weather got the best of us. I guess we had cabin fever because we were chewin' each other out and hard to get along with.
For some reason, it just happened that I had a little bit of apricot brandy in my suitcase. Not knowin' whether Dunc or Everett ever took a drink I went in and got the bottle and set it up on the table and said, "I don't care who knows that I take a drink. I'm gonna have a little drink." So I took a little swig and Hamilton got up and said, "I don't care who knows I take a drink," so he took a little swig, and then Dunc Lang got up and said, "I don't give a damn who knows I take a drink," so he had one, too. And after a while, you know, that cabin warmed up, and I don't know to this day whether we had a good supper or not!
The loggin' at McNary on the old KD Lumber Company sale was strictly a skidding proposition when they first came on the Forest; using chokers around the logs and skiddin' 'em directly into the landing where they were unhooked. the loader lifted 'em and put 'em on the cars and they were taken to McNary every night. This type of loggin', in the early days before we had many plans, really chewed up a lot of the soil, and made deep gouges from the logs being towed directly on the ground. In a good many places it did make a good seedbed and in many areas where we had done this kind of loggin', we got excellent reproduction in good years when we had good seed crops.
One interesting thing about this old sale was the marking along the County road that went from McNary to Vernon. When we first started markin' timber around Lake Mountain and along this road, we left a strip, I believe it was 200 feet wide on either side of the road, where there was no marking whatsoever. We left it in its natural state.
Shortly afterwards, maybe within a year or so, the policy was that you could take out decadent trees and lightning-struck trees and trees that you really thought were gonna die within a short period. Then after that you could mark about 30 percent. Then the policy changed again and you could mark 50 percent, and shortly afterwards, the policy changed again and you couldn't mark anything. And as I remember, when the sale closed out, or just before it closed out, you could do the same type of marking along the highway, on this County road, as you did on other areas surrounding it.
After the winter, spring, and summer at Las Burros we were finally moved into cabins that the Forest had built on Indian Service land in McNary, or just outside the town limits. We moved into the cabins there. Marge and I had two cabins that were about eight, ten feet apart. We had a bedroom in one, and a kitchen, office, and everything else in the other. The John was an outside John. Water was piped in from the town of McNary and we did not have flush toilets.
We spent the winter of '27 and the spring of '28 in McNary, at which time, in the spring of '28, I was offered the timber sale job on the Grand Canyon unit, which is now the Tusayan Division of the Kaibab, as timber sale man. We reported in the spring of '28 to Williams. We lived in Williams for several months while George Kimball, Arthur Gibson, John Schroeder, and a few more of the boys on the Tusayan that could drive a nail, built us a house which, as I recall was 20 by 20, and divided into four rooms which were about ten feet square, which didn't give us too much space.
The headquarters logging camp for the Saginaw was on the Santa Fe Railroad, halfway between Anita and Grand Canyon. Our water was hauled in to the camp in big tank cars from Williams and put on a siding. We had two eight or ten-gallon galvanized buckets and we had to walk 400 yards or so, and turn the water on in the tank and get a few buckets of water. It took a long time to get down there with a few buckets of water to fill the tub that we put on the old wood stove to heat water, so you could have your Saturday night bath.
During the early days of the Grand Canyon sale, we were not furnished with a car by the Forest Service, nor did we have a speeder to run on the Saginaw Railroad tracks. The loggin' train would leave the headquarters camp with the empty cars between 4:30 and 5:00 o'clock. We had to get on a car and go up to the loggin' camp and then walk out to where we were markin' trees or supervisin' the brush, or skinnin' the logs, or doin' the other jobs that were necessary to do around a big logging operation. Then we came back in with the loaded cars at night.
We'd get home anywhere from 6:00 to 8:30, if the cars stayed on the track. And if they didn't, it might be midnight, or the next morning, before we got home. We did this for months. I recall that there were a couple of the assistant scalers' wives came up to our house one day and just chewed into Marge and gave her the Devil for me taking their husbands away from them for so long every day in the week and not gettin' 'em home 'til way after dark, and takin' 'em to work before the sun ever thought of comin' up. Marge listened to it as long as they wanted to expound, and finally she says, "Well, doesn't Jim go with them? He's not at home, so he goes with 'em too."
A short time after this incident we did get an old Model T roadster that had belonged to the Supervisor's office in Williams. When they got a new sedan, or a new pickup, I believe it was, why we got the old Model T roadster. We didn't have to leave home until about 6:30 or 7:00 to get up into the woods in the Model T. But on the days when it was muddy or snowy, you'd still have to go and ride the train.
Then a little later, we got a motor scooter to run on the railroad track to take us back and forth to the woods. These scooters were very, very treacherous. The railroad had these high joints; they're not smooth. The curves aren't good. If you're not careful, if you got up too much speed, why the scooter would be just as apt to leave the track and throw you off and skin you up. I know several times, in ridin' the scooter, we'd be thrown off and get skinned up, but then get right back on again because that's the only way you had to get around.
On the Grand Canyon unit of the Tusayan Division, in the old days it was called the Grand Canyon unit, was a big sale. There was one cattle permittee on most of the area, Martin Bugland. I think he ran around a thousand head of cattle under the 10-X brand. I don't believe in all that area there was 15 or 20 seedlings per section. It was one of the areas where there was no reproduction to speak of at all.
I remember one year we had a good seed crop I don't remember what year it was, but I made some counts. We put in quarter-acre plots and we had as many as 35,000 trees on one acre of ground up there. We kept records, and in about ten years there were no seedlings left in the area at all, mostly due from drouth and probably from cattle, too.
The logging operation there was two-fold. First, they skidded entirely with horses and high wheels. This went on for a year or a year and a half, then they went to skiddin' on the ground with cats, and after a while they went to arches, steel arches with a track on either side, instead of wheels. They'd lift up the front end of the logs about six feet off the ground and take 'em into the landing where they were dropped and loaded onto the cars and taken to the Santa Fe and then into Williams.
On their outlying areas, that they considered too scattered to log, they had a gypo contract they gave to an old fellow by the name of Pat McCoy and his brothers, Jesse and Zinny. They were quite an outfit. They were hard workers. They used eight-wheeled wagons pulled by horses. They'd just skid 'em up into a wagon load in the woods and they'd cross-haul; load by crosshauls, and then take 'em to the landing. They were paid so much a thousand. They did all the work on these outlying areas, the cuttin' and the swampin' and the brush disposal work, and gettin' the logs to the landing.
The McCoys were good contractors and they knew their business, and they knew what the Forest Service regulations were. Though there were times when we might have a few arguments with Pat, why they were just honest arguments, things that he believed in.
The Grand Canyon Unit, to begin with, was an entirely 100 percent pile-and-burn operation with the brush. Then after two or three or four years, they finally went to lopping it, and a little later they went to lopping and scattering. I was on the Grand Canyon Unit until along about the latter part of 1933 when I moved into Williams in the office, and in early 1934 I was promoted to Assistant Supervisor.
* * * * * * * * *
From the National Forest Manual - 1926. "The distribution of fire tools, particularly in small caches, is not looked upon with favor."
"The assembling of tools at central points, with reference to transportation and available labor, is considered to be the best policy."
* * * * * * * * *
In July of 1935 I was put in charge of all timber work on the Kaibab as well as a good deal of the emergency work we were doin' at that time: the WPA (the Works Progress Administration), ECA (the Economic Cooperation Administration), NRA (the National Recovery Administration), and several other lettered programs that don't come to mind now. One of the best, or at least one of the projects I thought was outstanding, was the WPA water development from Warm Springs, pumping water from down near Ryan to Little Hill, south of Jacob Lake. This project was seven or eight miles long. Probably the lift in the water was about 5,000 feet from Ryan to Jacob Lake.
The Highway Department bought about a 100,000-gallon big round tank, covered tank, for storage of water, so we would have gravity to their camp and to the Forest Jacob Lake campground, also to the lodge and garage and cabins at Jacob Lake. That was quite a project. We hauled men by truck from Heber, Cottonwood, Verde Valley, Williams, and even from Short Creek, in to this project. The men cooked their own meals and slept intents. This was about a two-year project.
There was a project almost like it on the other side of the mountain, on the east side of the mountain, just below Kane. We called it the South Canyon water project for the cattle and buffalo. This was a WPA job where we developed a spring, a big spring, up South Canyon, and then took water down onto the flat-lands of the Forest, and even out onto Bureau of Land Management lands outside the Forest boundary for a mile or so, for buffalo wallows. This was another project where we had to haul men from all over northern Arizona to get 'em to do this work.
On the south side of the Kaibab, on the old Spring Valley District, Chalendar and Camp Clover, we used many of these men under the rangers to develop seeps and springs. I know we had 20 or 30 spring projects going at one time.
In the fall of '38 there was a terrible hurricane on the East Coast that came up across New England, through Connecticut and Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and went a little bit into Canada and then back off into the Atlantic Ocean again. This hurricane blew down practically all of the White pine in the New England States.
About two months after this hurricane, the Forest Service in Washington was asked to take over the job of buying timber and cleaning up the area. The Chief's Office called on several Regions for experienced timber-sale men and administrators to go back to New England to handle the purchasing and the cleaning up of the brush from the hurricane.
Early one morning I was called to the phone from Albuquerque by Mr. George W. Kimball, the ARF [Assistant Regional Forester] in charge of Operation, who wanted to know if I would be interested in going back if they accepted me. I told Mr. Kimball that I would be glad to go back to New England and help in the job in any way I could. I was selected for the detail, and reported to Boston for the job.
The most important job, to begin with, as I look back now, was to keep White pine so that it doesn't rot and the bark slip. It must be kept in water. Our toughest job, biggest job that we had to do, was to go within the State and try to put under contract all of the ponds, to keep the bugs out until the Government could get sawmills in that area to saw up the trees into timber.
I will say that those New England Yankees are the hardest people in the world to deal with. They didn't want to rent the ponds for money or for any reason whatsoever. They didn't want to do it. They thought it would destroy the looks of their areas or ponds, and they didn't want it full of logs. But after several weeks, at least in the area where I was, we convinced 'em that we wouldn't do too much damage to their surrounding lands, and that we'd just put in the logs wherever they wanted them.
I had the north half of Massachusetts in my area. When I got sufficient ponds under contract, it was only a short time afterwards that we started buying logs. The government bought the logs at the pond. It was the owner's responsibility to get the trees which were blown over onto the ground, sawed up into logs and delivered to the pond. We bought 'em and paid for 'em at the pond by grade and scale. Sometimes the people were not pleased with the amount of money they received for their logs, but I think we tried to do a fair job of scaling and grading. After four or five months I think we had most of the trees cut up and into the ponds.
A part of the job that took a good deal of time, which I didn't have anything to do with, was the cleanup of the brush. When the logs were cut out of the tree we still had all the limbs and branches and needles. In order to cut down the fire hazard around the towns, and in the woods, the Government made a WPA project. They used WPA workmen throughout New England to lop and to pile the brush so it could be burned later on in the winter. One of the fellows from Region 3 had transferred from here back to Region 7, Willard Bond, who now lives at Nambe, was one of the men in charge of this project. He was in charge of the same area for brush disposal as I had for timber.
After several months we were lucky enough, or fortunate enough, to have a few sawmills sawing and piling lumber. The Forest Service, to begin with, had to borrow money from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to pay for the timber, and the administration of the work. The Forest Service came out of the job with a tidy profit instead of losing a lot of money which so many of these projects get into.
I had one frustrating thing happen to me while I was back on this project. We left Arizona in late September and drove back to New England. We got the equivalent of train fare on the train to get back there. I was on a per diem of $6 a day while I was there. At the end of October I turned in my expense account, and in November I turned in an expense account, and at the end of January I turned in an expense account and all this time no money came back! I was just turning in expense accounts.
I talked to the Administrative Assistant one day and wanted to now what the trouble was that I didn't get any money, and he says, "Well, it's the fault of the Regional Office that you're not getting any money. I sent your expense accounts in." I just happened to be sitting at his desk and he opened his drawer and I looked down into his desk, and there was a drawer full of expense accounts. He didn't know what to do with 'em, so he was just fillin' 'em in his desk.
I said, "Charlie, why haven't you sent these in?" "Well," he says, "To be honest with you, Mr. Monighan, I didn't know what to do with 'em."
So I called up the fiscal agent in the NETSA (New England Timber Sales Administration) Office in Boston, and he said, "Send 'em in here and we'll handle 'em for you." It was only a couple of weeks until I had all my money back in my own pocket and was happy.
Shortly after this, about the middle of March, Allen Miller, who is now in Lands in Washington, came to New England as State Director for NETSA. Allen asked me if I'd be his assistant. I asked him what they paid and he told me. I said, "No, you don't pay enough." "Well," he says, "The Boston Office is gonna take you off of per diem." I said, "Any time they take me off of per diem they can ship me back to Region 3." So, the 1st of April we started back to Williams, Arizona. We were a good deal happier, I think, to get back West again.
For the next year or so I just did routine work on the Kaibab. Early in January 1941 I was offered the Supervisor's job on the Sitgreaves to replace Mr. Fred Merkle, who was retiring that month. It was quite an experience to come in and follow a man like Fred Merkle. I stayed there from 1941 until 1949.
When I got to the Sitgreaves, one thing that impressed me was the number of horses runnin' on the west half of the Forest, from Cottonwood Wash to the Coconino boundary at Leonard Canyon. Pretty near anywhere you drove or rode you'd see a mare and a colt, or a bunch of stud horses, or a bunch of horses together. It got so after a while I thought that all we had was horses on the Sitgreaves. It turned out that all these horses were old abandoned horses that had been thrown on the Forest either from the Reservation side, or maybe from outside the north boundary, from private lands.
So, the next year we organized all the Rangers into a party, after getting a Closing Order, and for the next three years or so we had a Closing Order on the Sitgreaves for wild and unclaimed horses. I believe in that time we killed or disposed of about 700 or 725 horses. And then on the east side, on the Lakeside and part of the Pinedale, we had an awful lot of trespass, both horse and cattle. We had several roundups of horses on the Lakeside District. We sold 'em to an outfit from Globe that came up to Show Low, where the sale was. They trucked 'em out to Globe and used 'em for dog meat.
You were gonna tell something about the sales that you worked on.
One of the things that struck me was that in riding over on the east side of the Sitgreaves on the Lakeside District, after I'd been away from 1928 til '41, was to get back and see some of the markin' that I had done when I was on the timber sale in 1927 and '28. Some of the markin' I thought was pretty heavy, but I will say that there is quite a good deal of nice reproduction in this area. The stand was an old, over-mature Yellow pine stand, but a good many places the timber marking looked very, very good. I believe since then, in some of the areas, they've gone back in and made salvage sales and taken out some of the trees we left for just such a purpose.
What about the fire situation, Jim?
Well, I remember one year, I think it was about '47 or so, Mr. P. V. Woodhead was the Regional Forester. Otto Lindh was in charge of Timber Management and they were bringing Mr. Jenks Mason from the Washington Office, Timber Management, out over the Region on a Timber inspection. On the day they got to the Sitgreaves, I met the party in Snowflake and we drove over part of the area, and just on the Heber District alone, where Harlan Johnson was Ranger, we had 57 fires going at once. And we had men on every one of the fires. I believe the largest one got to be only about 50 acres.
After several nice, good years on the Sitgreaves, in June of 1949, I was transferred to the Cibola in Albuquerque, to take Ellis Wiltbank's place. He had died a few months before. About my first job on the Cibola was a grazing case on the south end of the San Mateo Mountains. Norman Weedon was the Ranger there, and Allan Watkins was Range Staffman at the time. We were having a little difficulty with some of the permittees on the east and west Monticello allotment. The allotment was quite badly overgrazed and the Ranger and the Staff wanted to make a reduction, or make some arrangement for non-use, to get some of the cattle off of the range.
We met at the Redrock Ranger Station two Sundays in a row. The first, we didn't make much headway about getting the permittees to agree to a reduction. So we made a date to meet the following Sunday at the Ranger Station to discuss it again. The next Sunday we met early in the morning and late in the afternoon we hadn't made any progress. Finally I said we'd just have to do what was right, and they would have to take their cattle off whether they agreed to it or not, that we'd spent two week-ends just discussing their problems, and ours, without a solution. I told each permittee just what he would have to do, which was the recommendation of both the Ranger and the Range Staffman. They thought it over and said, "Well, if that's your decision, we'll have to abide by it," which they did.
After the meeting was over, and we were standin' around talkin', gettin' ready to go back to Albuquerque, Mr. Joe Pankey, a permittee, who was at this meeting both days, and was also a member of the Forest Advisory Board, came over to me and says, "Well, Mr. Monighan, I think you were very fair and good to the permittees, and if I ever have to meet you under like circumstances, I hope that you'll be as good to me as you were to them."
Another job that I think we handled in pretty good shape was on an allotment on the Mt. Taylor District, where we got the permittees to take a couple of months non-use in the growing season and to agree not to bring their yearlings onto the Forest, but to keep them off the Forest. We plowed or disked the area and planted crested wheat grass on several hundred acres in the midlands of Mt. Taylor. We had a fair catch on the crested wheatgrass and up at least until the time that I left the Cibola, we were getting very good use out of the grass in the spring.
Another thing, I think we did a pretty good job on the Mountainair, the Magdalena, and part of the San Mateo Districts in juniper eradication and some watershed management work. I think a few years will really show that the Forest is being helped from those little checkdams and the erosion control work, as well as the juniper control work, we did on those Districts.
One of the biggest jobs, and headaches, on the Cibola, is the recreation on the Sandias and part of the Manzanos. There are hundreds of thousands of people that go to the Sandias every year for picnics and for overnight camping. Just to keep the areas maintained and cleaned up, and everyone happy, is quite a job for both the Supervisor's staff and the Ranger. It seems as if we were just maintaining and rebuilding recreation areas in the Sandias all the time.
In 1954 the Cibola took over part of the Grasslands from the Soil Conservation Service. At that time I was Supervisor. We made trips to Fort Worth to discuss with the SCS the taking over and signing for property and the transfer of the lands. At the time of the transfer, the Cibola was probably 600 or 700 miles from one end to the other; from away over in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, to Gallup on the west. It took in an area around Roy and Clayton, New Mexico, and Dalhart and Texline, Texas.
It was quite a move without any additional staff added to the Supervisor's office. It entailed an awful lot of travel, especially when we first took them over because we had to get out and get acquainted with the permittees and the country. But all in all, I think it was an excellent move on the part of the Forest Service to take these areas in and keep them in grassland. I hope they will keep them all, because out in that Plains country, that low country, the Forest Service couldn't do a better job anywhere than to keep these areas to where they won't blow away.
I think that's about all, except to say that I am happy to have worked with the Forest Service for a good many years from 1925 to 1963. I enjoyed every minute of it. I've never known a better class of men or women, or better people to work with than the people I have found in the Forest Service.
I was born in Massachusetts in 1906, and came West to Arizona at the age of ten, in 1916. I went to work for the Forest Service as a seasonal employee in the spring of 1926, so at the present time I have about 33 and a half years of service, and will have 34 and a half when I retire on June 1, 1965. My first job was on the Santa Rita District on the Coronado, working for Ranger Olof J. Olson.
What was your job like?
In those days I think we called it Administrative Guard. Early in the season we would maintain telephone lines. In those days the procedure was to get your pack outfit ready and take off on an extended pack trip. If it took a week, or two weeks, or three weeks, to put the line in shape, why that's how long we were gone. Probably the next job I had was on general maintenance around the Station, getting fire tools and these sorts of things ready. Then there was trail work on the mountains; we had trail crews. I didn't stay on the trail crew very long because they needed a lookout and I went from the trail crew to a lookout job. I stayed on the lookout for the rest of the season.
In the meantime, Ranger Olson was transferred from the Santa Rita to the Huachuca District. Knowing Olie, having worked for him, knowing I could get along with him, I elected to transfer with him to a more or less undeveloped District. I went along with Ranger Olson and worked for him more or less as long as he was on the Coronado.
From the Use Book - 1906. "During dry and dangerous periods the selection of headquarters, camping places, and routes should be made with the single object of preventing and discovering fires."
This is a story handed down to me by Ranger Olson. One time the telephone didn't work and by the way, this telephone line ran from Rosemont west up the side of the Santa Rita Mountains to Madera Canyon, and then on up on top of the mountain to Mt. Wrightson, as it was later called. In those days we called it Baldy. I guess there were too many Baldys in the State, so later it became Mt. Wrightson.
Well, anyway, at that time there would be no need for contact with a lookout in the winter time but there was the operator at Madera Canyon, who was on the line, and the line had gone out of commission. So they sent what we termed in those days the Administrative Guard on out to fix the line. He was the cowboy type. He went out and supposedly fixed the line and reported back to the Ranger Station and the line didn't work. Upon further questioning by the Ranger it was revealed that this cowboy had gone out and found the break and had tied the wire together with a rope! So he hadn't accomplished a thing except to get the wire off the ground.
How did you get your permanent appointment?
Well, this was rather an undeveloped District, with few telephone lines, not an adequate road system; as many of the Districts were in those days. As jobs came up, such as constructing new telephone lines, I worked in seasons other than fire seasons as foreman of the telephone crew, foreman on other jobs, and among other jobs I remember that one time I was a tractor operator, or cat skinner, on a road job.
The CCs became active in the spring of 1933, and I went right from one job to the other. In 1942, all CC supervisory personnel, possibly with exceptions, were picked up as formals, and that was my first formal appointment with the Forest Service. If my figuring is correct, I started in 1926; I was 15 years as a temporary.
Now, before we get into the CC work that you did, Norm, Olie got into some difficulty down there. Do you want to say anything about that?
I don't mind talking about it at all. I was in the CC camp, in the same room, at the time that the fisticuffs between Ranger Olson and Permittee Hathaway took place. As a matter of fact, if my memory serves me correctly I stepped between the two of them, to break it up. But it's a story that went back before this time. You might say that this was the straw that broke the camel's back, this meeting in the office at the CC camp at Sunnyside.
As I remember it, we had permittees with preferences on a community allotment, and the time had come to fence off these permittees individually, giving each one an individual allotment. A Ranger, a predecessor to Olson, had laid out and built a fence between Hathaway and another permittee by the name of Mrs. Nye. It seems that the fence on the map as it had been agreed to, and the fence on the ground, were not the same. Consequently, Permittee Hathaway felt that he had been gypped in the deal, and this was the basis for their argument.
Well, anyway, it goes on and on, and at one time Olson supposedly was transporting liquor in a government vehicle. One of the people in the law enforcement party that apprehended Olson was this permittee. I think that eventually, through the efforts of the Regional Office, it was determined that this whole thing was a frame-up. Of course, this is all a matter of record and can be verified.
But anyway, Olson was furloughed, and removed from the Canelo Ranger Station during the period of the hearing. A person by the name of Garvin Smith was being transferred to the Canelo District. En route, there was need for his services in the Supervisor's Office, and he did not get to the District. I was assigned as Acting Forest Ranger during the period, which amounted to about six months, until a replacement for Olson was obtained. Having lived, or boarded with the Olsons, off and on, one of the toughest tasks I ever faced in the Forest Service was to go and take over their new home, the new Ranger Station, while they were furloughed. I was glad that I was able to carry on his work, but on the other hand I did not appreciate seeing them move out; in other words, replace him.
Olson was completely exonerated in the end?
As far as I remember, he was completely exonerated. He was furloughed for a number of months, maybe three. He came back, but was transferred from the Coronado to the Gila.
Then after that change was made you went back to the CC camp?
I went back to the CC camp. They had a special construction job that they felt I was capable of doing, namely, building a combination Guard and Fire cabin at Cima Park, on the Chiricahuas. I was sent to a CC Camp that was under National Monument administration, on the west side of the Chiricahuas, at the City of Rocks. From there I operated a side camp at Cima Park, with 25 employees, and constructed this installation.
It was a complete installation, telephone lines, water system, a large cabin; and I remember, in the building specifications, it called for two fireplaces to be built, back to back. Every fireplace I had had anything to to with in those days either smoked or provided inadequate heat. You'd have to stand up to the fire, and if you were facing it why, you're warm on that side, and you're too cold on the opposite side. These are things that we probably all remember about the old fireplaces.
Well, I had no idea how to build a fireplace, back to back, and the plans didn't detail it enough to know. I thought the Government should be good for something, so I wrote to the Government Printing Office, and sure enough, they sent me the details that I needed to get the job done, and it worked very satisfactorily.
You built the double fireplace, from those plans?
Yes, sir. It was a double fireplace with one chimney.
I remember another thing about the building. We had to cut the logs, skid them with a mule. As a matter of fact, we had to pack everything in from Rustler Park, which was at the end of the road. It was six miles from Rustler Park to Cima Park, where we were doing the construction work. So everything had to come in by pack animals.
But anyway, getting back to the cabin, the plans called for windows laying down horizontally, like log cabins were built in those days. Now I'm rather a tall person and the windows were either too low when I was standing up, to see through, or too high, if I was sitting down, to see through. I didn't know who made the plans, or how I could get in touch with him, but I came up with the idea that I wanted a window I could see out of, because this was an administrative building, not a home.
I took it upon myself to stand the windows up-and-down, so I could see out of them. Fred Winn, at that time an old timer, came up on an inspection trip, accompanied by Mrs. Winn. I doubt very much whether Mr. Winn noticed this change, but certainly Mrs. Winn did, and I really heard about it! It was a log cabin that wasn't a log cabin.
I stayed with the CCs throughout the rest of the CC program, which folded sometime in 1942, Being what might be termed a Construction Foreman, and having had experience with campgrounds, I was transferred from the Coronado to the Coconino National Forest in 1937, with the idea that I would work mainly on campground construction; which I did, more or less, through the remaining years of the CCs.
I remember that several summers were spent operating what you might term side camps, which were camps away from the mother camp. I recall that it was rather an imposing task to be the Camp Commander, the Educational Advisor, the "Doctor," the Project Superintendent, all in the camp, plus running the crew during the day. I can remember having side camps on top of the Huachuca Mountains and we would be there for weeks on end, because a person would have to walk off the top of the mountain, and it wasn't worth walking off the mountain to go to the main camp. We furnished our own recreation in the form of hikes, horseshoe games there wasn't any place level enough to make a ball diamond, or anything like that, but we'd have an area where we could play catch, and so on, so we were rather a complete camp.
Now, then, if on the other extreme, we were closer to a town than to the main camp, why we'd rig up recreation trips on week-ends to go to town and challenge another team to play softball or to see a rodeo, maybe, or something like that. I had that authority and did take the boys, escort them on these recreation trips over the week ends.
You are considered a timber beast: how did you get into timber work?
Well, that's kind of an interesting story. In 1942 we heard that the CC camps were being abandoned. Pearl Harbor and we were in a War. There was a place for the boys, and the CC camps were no longer really necessary.
The Supervisor came out and said something to the effect that it looked like I was gonna be out of a job. I told him, yes, I had looked around and, being more or less of a carpenter, or construction worker, that I would probably go to Fort Huachuca where there was quite a building program going on, the Army's building program. He says, "Well, if you want to gamble, I think I can place you on one of the timber sales."
We talked around, more or less on my part to find out what the job would be, and what the living conditions would be, and so on. I found out that these conditions I could live with, so I asked the Supervisor what the gamble was. He said, "Well, we need a man for this job, and if there are others on the register ahead of you, we couldn't guarantee it." On the other hand, he doubted that very much, and thought I could be transferred over at this time I was a formal employee and I could be transferred over from this particular CC work into the timber work.
So, I told him that I liked Forest Service work and had spent quite a number of years at it, so, go ahead with the idea that I would get the job it I could be taken off the register as required by Civil Service. So I went into the timber business in 1942, and I've been in it ever since.
Where was your first job in the timber business?
My first job in Timber was to report to Homer German, who was the Chief Ranger that was his title at that time on a large timber sale seven miles south of Flagstaff.
What Supervisor did you start out under up here in your regular work, your timber work?
I reported here to Supervisor Hussey, in the spring of '37. Supervisor Hussey replaced E. G. Miller, who had been here for quite a number of years, some time in 1936, so Supervisor Hussey was less than one year old on the Forest when I came.
He was another character!
Yes, he was. I could tell you a little story about Ralph. Ralph had no earthly use for a Recreation man. I had been assigned to the Forest, with the Regional Office's knowledge, to do recreation work on the Coconino National Forest. I later heard that the first trip he made out to supervise my work on Oak Creek, he came with the intent of firing me. But after we discussed plans, what had been done, what was to be done, he didn't fire me. I heard this quite some time later, you know, from another old-timer, Tracy Rice. But anyway, I think the only compliment that Ralph ever passed on me was rather backhanded, or indirect.
His Assistant was discussing with him one day the personnel requirements people needed to run the Forest for the next year. At that time they were talking about sending me to the south end, as the Improvement and Fire Ranger, a term known only to the Coconino, probably. In any event, when Rotty said, "We will need a replacement for Johnson," without turning away from the window, Hussey said, "Better make it two." That was the only compliment I ever received from that man and I received several things that weren't compliments from him in that time, but we got along fairly well.
Ralph was quite an Improvements man.
Maybe so, but in a range or water development line. He didn't take advantage of the CCs to build fine Ranger Stations, like a lot of other Supervisors did. Consequently, when the CCs were over, we had a vast array of range and water improvements, such as spring developments, but not the miles of fancy roads, nor new, modern Ranger Stations, with one exception; Beaver Creek was built during the CCs.
A very nice job, too.
A very nice job, you bet. But that's only one out of six at that time; we have seven districts now.
Well, maybe we'd better get on to your timber work, where you made such a good reputation.
Well, about the only thing I can say there I guess you remember Jim Egan? when I went into timber work I was working under Homer German, and quite a bit of the work was on Jim Egan's District. One day I was discussing work with Jim, and he said, "You have really found your niche." And I think that explains it as well as anything could. I like timber work. I've always liked timber work, and I certainly put everything I could into it.
Timber work on the Coconino is rather a heavy load. We are harvesting between 90 and 100 million feet this year. But, as I mentioned before, Homer was my boss, and Lafe Kartchner also enters into the picture here. At that time, Homer took care of the sale administration and marking, and Lafe took care of the scaling crews.
It wasn't long until Lafe was transferred off of the Forest and Homer was needed on the north end of the Forest, so he was transferred there, leaving the large sales to Lester Elmore and myself. By mutual agreement, Lester was the boss, taking over the portion that Homer had handled on the sales. We worked together very well. In 1947, Lester was transferred and I took over the large sales, which were mainly on the south half of the Forest. I've practically been in charge of project sales since that time.
I'd like to make one comment here: I always felt that when I was workin' on a sale on a District, I was working for that Ranger. Always worked very closely with the Ranger. That's been one of the gripes against the project type of handling timber sales; the Ranger didn't know what was goin' on. I always felt the minute I stepped over on a man's District, that I worked for him.
I've been in charge of sales continuously with the exception of one six-month period. I went to Winslow, where we used a powder box for a file cabinet, one table as a desk, and three or four chairs of mixed ancestry, to start a new Ranger District. And there again, it's quite a feeling to leave the mountains where there's timber, go to a town that isn't within a National Forest, more or less out on the desert, and set up an office 25 miles away from the nearest portion of the new District. It's quite a feeling. I was there six months, then I was offered this job and took it, to come in as Timber Staffman in the Supervisor's Office.
You started the Winslow District?
Timber Camp wasn't there?
No. I can tell you an interesting little story about Timber Camp. Supervisor Crawford had tentatively picked out two locations; one of them was Timber Camp, and there was no water there. Timber Camp, on good cross highways, was the ideal location, because it was more or less right in the center of the District. I got together with geologists to find out if water was available. They made their studies, said we would hit water at something between 500 and 600 feet. As proof of this, about four miles down the canyon, was a well drilled by the permittee, and he had hit water at 450 feet.
All of this sounded reasonable to me, but after having seen water at a lot of other Ranger Stations, all the wells and the windmills and gasoline engines were down in the bottom of canyons, and the camps or dwellings up on the side of the hill. I can remember in the olden days, taking my gallon of gasoline and going down to the water pump and starting the gasoline engine and pump. Then I had to make another trip back down to shut it off. Well, I had the brilliant idea that I was gonna drill a well right in the middle of the Camp. So to this day there are a lot of people who ask why the well is right in the middle of the Camp.
Well, anyway, one day I met the permittee and he said, "I guess you won a bet." I said, "What was the bet?" He said, "Well, we bet I can't remember what we bet, but we bet that you wouldn't hit water between 500 and 600 feet. It may have been a carton of cigarettes, or maybe it was a new hat." I told him I'd settle for a cup of coffee, but I've wondered since then what would have happened if I had said it was a new Buick! Because he could have paid for one.
In your work in Timber, how have the relations been with the timber operators? Do they agree pretty well with our marking policies, our harvesting policies?
I'd say over all, during the period of years that I've been in Timber here on the Coconino National Forest, that the Forest as a whole is fortunate in having operators like ours. Sure, we have our problems come up once in a while, but the operators are very cooperative. They realize of course that their bread and butter is National Forest timber, and they cooperate with us very well.
Do you think they cooperate because it is easier, or because they really believe in the way we operate?
Well, actually I think that the operators would like to see clear-cut practices, only insofar as they are thinking of logs, the profit to come out of these logs, right in this particular area. I remember one time when one of the men in the camp he was camp maintenance man in discussing marking methods, and so on, he said when he first came onto the sale area and saw what we were doing in the line of selective improvement marking, he felt that we were not helping the purchaser much. But the longer he was here and the longer he thought back to the early days in Arkansas where he had come from, with their clear-cut and get-out policies, the more he felt that we were doing the right thing, and he wished there had been more people with the guts that we had here, to carry out what we thought was right. At the moment I think they feel that we have done right.
You think that feeling is pretty general among the loggers?
We do have a few problems. As you know, it's the Region's policy now to staff up the Districts. We have a few problems coming up.
You might put it this way: going from one extreme under the Federal administrative unit, the companies had only one person to answer to. In other words, what I'm tryin' to say is that anywhere they went on this Plateau, the head thinking was done by one person, and they knew if they were gonna cut timber a certain way over here, they were gonna do the same thing over there. And then we went to Districts.
Now, when they come to a District boundary, they have to operate differently from what they've been doing, because the man over there doesn't think exactly the same as the other one. So they feel they are logging seven different ways, if they're on seven different Districts, where they used to feel that they operated one way on the whole area. Now these are kinda the two extremes.
We're having a few problems, not only on this Forest, but on Forests throughout the Region. And not only one operator, but operators through out the Region, are complaining about some of these differences. In other words, they know how they're gonna handle the brush on this District, but when they get over on another District, the Timber Management Assistant on that District wants it handled a different way. I think the operators are a little shook by this.
Do they have a right to be? I mean, does that really amount to much difference?
It amounts to a lot of difference. What I'd have to do, to answer your question, is to ask you one: If you were an operator, wouldn't you rather operate for the Forest Service on National Forest lands under one policy, rather than have a different policy on every different District?
So you can see the point. I think they would be happy to have the timber sales as they used to be, with specialists handling timber sales. I think they used to call Homer a Chief Ranger when he handled timber sales. How Homer felt when he was on the District, I don't know, but, as I've already said, I felt that I was working for the Ranger on whose District I was standing when I marked a tree, and was always loyal to that Ranger. I had no problems along the line that way.
Thinking back, it's possible that the operators would like to see it that way. But that isn't the trend; the trend is that each District has its timber, and he's going to have a sustained yield unit of his own.
It's unfortunate if there's too much variation between Districts.
Well, you could take the same contract that covers both Districts, and two men read the contract, and they won't read or interpret it exactly the same. Sure, we're responsible for seeing that the operator fulfills the terms of the contract, by the same token, I think that we're responsible to the operator to see that we fulfill our part of the contract.
I know that you've been quite a student of timber marking policies, timber sales administration, and so on. You've looked over many of the old sales. How do you contrast the way we handled them in the early days, as against our present-day policies?
I think we're talking about at least three steps in here, not two. I'm thinkin' now of the early days when the rule of thumb was that you had to have a million feet per every mile of road laid down; the contracts guaranteed 66 and two thirds percent of the volume on the area. In addition, I think some of the older timber markers felt that the company needed 90 percent of the volume to make a go of it.
Now, I'm not criticizing here because I came in right at the change-over period. I'm almost ready to prove this: I think if we go in and clear-cut large areas, we change the micro-climate. I'm working on a small area out here on a sale on which I am clear-cutting 20 acres, so far as the overstory is concerned. But the understory is bare, and the measurements on the understory indicate that's a Site 2, where the stumps from the original cut indicate that's a Site 1. So, by changing the micro-climate in here we're changing from Site 1 to Site 2. I'm satisfied in my own mind, but I don't have the proof to present, as yet. It's not written up.
Are you going to do it?
I'm sure I'll get it done before I pull camp.
Yes, I think it should be.
Now then, we went from this heavy marking, what we might call clear-cut, on these timber right sections and by the way, the 20 acres I'm talkin' about are on one of the old timber right sections. We have a lot of those old sections, alternate sections, which are now our lands. We have reproduction on them, but they're more or less "apple" trees; they haven't grown up like nice uniform stands. There's nothin' to speak of to cut off of 'em. So we're gonna have a problem on these many thousand acres about actually getting pruning, cleaning, and so on. We have no timber to sell to get Timber Stand Improvement funds to do the work with.
Anyway, then we went to what was called by Gus Pearson the improvement selection method of marking. It very definitely has a place in the virgin areas where we went through and more or less captured mortality. We didn't put the stand in good shape. We captured mortality. Well, now, we've covered the Forest as far as the virgin areas are concerned, to all intents and purposes. There are few acres left, and we've come up with the Pine Mountain sale.
On Site 1, which is the best growing site, we say we're gonna put the stand in the best possible growing condition; which means removing the majority of the mature and over-mature timber, removing the pulpwood in the understory, and leaving a more-or-less definite number of stems per acre. Now, if there were too many stems on every acre, all over, you can visualize that you can have an orchard-type of thing, which would be fine; that's the way we planned. But every acre does not have a stand of ponderosa, so we're striving for a base area of, let's say, 80 feet; that seems to have been the magic number over the years, and over here we had nothing; still have nothing.
I agree with the treatment here with a couple of exceptions: Number 1, the residual stand being young-aged pole and saplings, and if we change the micro-climate, what is it going to do to these stems that we have left? The other thing that I don't agree with a hundred percent, although I went along with it, is that on all of the Site 1 acres where we were removing such a large volume it will have a tendency, if we continue this practice, to upset the economic applecart. By that I mean, by removing all of the volume on this cut we'll not be able to go back into the area for a long period of time.
As long as we have the milling capacity we have here in Flagstaff, this heavy cut now, with the next cut far in the future, don't jibe. These are the only two exceptions that I have to the present-day marking, which includes regeneration cutting. I'd like to have proof as to what this clear-cutting is doing to the micro-climate. If man is changing a site from Site 1 to Site 2 through this practice, then maybe we'd better hold off for a while until we get a little more proof.
If we change Site 1 to Site 2, isn't there danger, if we continue, of changing Site 2 to Site 3?
Well, that's a possibility; not as likely, because Site 2 doesn't have the growing factors, or features, that Site 1 has. So the trees on Site 2 aren't of the same quality, or size, that you have on Site 1. We have proof that we can grow timber approximately three times as fast on Site 1 as we can on Site 3. As a matter of fact, on Site 3 we can't grow to size or quality that we can grow on Site 1.
What's the influence of the pulp mill cutting?
Actually, if we'd take an area other than Pine Mountain, but that would be like a Site 1 in Pine Mountains, we are actually thinning through pulping and pre-commercial thinning to a spacing, and in turn a basal area retention or residual stand, that is somewhat higher than what the results would be on Site 1 on Pine Mountain. We're doing this with the idea that we may want another pulp cut ten years from now. So we're not into our straight pulping so far. Maybe we haven't got the nerve yet to go in and mark like it really should be. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this "should be" has been proven.
You've had an interesting history of logging and timber work, do you have any tales to tell about it?
It kinda reminds me of 'way back when when the grazing permittee had a community allotment, and the time became right to fence 'em off into individual allotments. Old Uncle Billy Parker, an old-timer then and long since dead, didn't want a gate put in the fence between him and another permittee. But there was a trail that went through there it was called the Bootlegger Trail this was close to the Mexican Border and I think, rather than a bootlegger, it was a rumrunner; but that wasn't the point.
We tried to convince Uncle Billy that he'd better put a gate in there or they'd cut the fence. Well, he held fast and we built the fence without gates, but it wasn't very long until he came and asked us to put the gate in. That just kinda reminds me that probably today, with the many management pastures that are in, and so many fences and so many gates to open, that probably the rumrunner takes the highway! It just shows the changing times. I've heard a lot of people say, "the good old days," but I have yet to hear anybody say they'd like to go back to those "good old days."
Well, to get back to those good old days, was there quite a bit of rum-running from Old Mexico during the period of Prohibition?
I would not say so much during the period of Prohibition; I'd say prior to, and then after. In Prohibition, we had bootleggers who made it in their backyards, and so the rumrunners didn't have the market.
I guess along the Rim, the Mogollon Rim, there were quite a lot of bootlegging activities.
I've run into several old bootlegger sites, in marking on the Coconino. Here and there you'll find a little evidence of an old still. One outfit moved out in a hurry and left a barrel of mash, and it's been layin' there for years.
In trying to think back, I don't know whether I could retrace my steps to them or not. It's kinda like when I started in Timber and we were runnin' section lines, private land lines, and so on. For a good number of years I could remember every corner, every quarter corner. Then one too many, and they all became hazy.
Just like trainin' these young foresters in the timber business; I kept track of the first 26 new men I had, then I quit keeping track of the number. I have no idea how many men have come to me right out of school. Another thing was that we moved from summer to winter quarters each year on this Forest. I kept track of the first 32 moves, and then I gave up. I don't know how many times I've moved.
My only other thought here that might be of interest to somebody is that I've had better then 33 years of service with the Forest Service; over 27 on the Coconino, which might be some kind of record for this day and age. I don't know. It's been a satisfying and gratifying career. When I retire, I leave with nothing but the highest esteem for the Forest Service and all of its employees. I have no regrets.
I've often heard it said that the Coke trains most of the timber sale boys in the Region. Of course that's not true nowadays, but for a while it was just about the situation.
We got two to four new men just about every season. Sure, there were exceptions during the War years when we didn't pick up that many, but there were lots of boys comin' through the timber camps on this Forest. Of course there have been a lot of others who've had a hand in the training of these men.
Oh yes, but I think the primary responsibility was probably yours. Have you had many that you recall as failures?
I've had a few, but I wouldn't call them failures. I would say this: they just didn't fit.
This brings to mind something that will let you know that your bosses sometimes realize more than you think they do about what's goin' on. If you get four new men a year, you'll get one out of the four who's above average, two average, and one below average. So, naturally, with myself as the trainer of these men, and they ask for my recommendation when it's time for them to move on, naturally I'm gonna recommend the man who has made life easier for me, who is generally the better man of the group. So he goes first, and then the average follow, and that leaves the lower-than-average. When this happens for a few years, what do you wind up with?
It actually happened that way here on the Forest. The Supervisor came out and talked to me and said, "I realize what's happening, but I don't know what to do about it." There was a build-up of a force that were below average. Now, they were all good fellows, nice to have in camp. Their greatest failings were that they couldn't do things with their hands.
I think of one who was raised on the streets of New York. He was educated in North Carolina, I believe; he couldn't drive an automobile. He couldn't change a tire; he couldn't even open a gate. What help was he to me? Oh well, he could do the leg work if I told him which tree to mark, why, he'd go ahead and mark it. He did save me some leg work, but he just didn't fit. So I'd say we didn't have failures; we just had fellows that didn't fit.
I started the first grade in Carlsbad and I believe I finished the first grade in Carlsbad. Then my father left Carlsbad and went to work for the Biological Survey and we lived in camps or at ranch headquarters for the next couple of years. As I remember, Mother taught me because we were never close enough for any period of time for me to attend a public school.
It was from this experience that my father became interested in National Forest work and became acquainted with some of the Rangers and one of the early-day Supervisors whom you know O. Fred Arthur, who was Supervisor of the Lincoln National Forest. With their encouragement, Dad took the Ranger's examination and passed and received his appointment on the Lincoln National Forest. I believe it was in the early spring of 1917.
You started growing up, then, on a District?
Yes, let's see; I would have been eight years old in March 1917.
Dad reported to work; his first assignment was at the old Mesa Ranger Station, which is about seven miles southwest of Capitan. He was employed there as an assistant to Ben Nabours, District Ranger. We stayed at the Mesa Ranger Station until just about the time fire season started and then we moved to the old Tucson Ranger Station which was northwest of Capitan about, well, I'd say, 12 or 14 miles, something like that. That's an old Station that disappeared from existence many years ago; I'm not sure just how long ago. There was a two-room log cabin that we occupied. I remember the chinking had fallen out in a few places and you could see daylight but, being summer time, we really didn't mind it too much.
Dad had primary responsibility for riding the range, maintaining certain improvements, and handling fires in that part of the country involving those little Tucson Mountains and the Carrizos. He had one lookout under his direct supervision, which you might be interested in knowing was manned by Barnard Hendricks, who later took the Ranger's short course at Colorado Aggies following World War I, and later was appointed in Region 3. I remember he worked on the old Datil National Forest, and eventually went into Research and was located down at Tucson.
I always remember Barney quite well because he made the highest grade on the Civil Service examination on both the Junior Forester and the Junior Ranger exams that had ever been made up to that time. With his veterans' preference, he made over 100 on each exam, which was quite an accomplishment.
We stayed there until after fire season; I think it must've been sometime in August I remember it was the rainy season.
We moved to Mayhill, New Mexico. Dad was appointed there as District Ranger; that was his first Ranger District.
The country was pretty wide open in those days. There weren't very many fences, and one of the big problems confronting the Rangers was getting livestock numbers under control. Trespass was a tremendous problem. The National Forests hadn't been in existence long enough to be very well accepted. The established ranchers in the country included many individuals who had grown up and gotten established in the days of the open public domain, and they didn't like to have somebody come along and tell 'em how many head of cattle they could run, or where they could run 'em, or what season of the year they could run em, on public lands.
I remember Dad had quite a hassle with one of the early day pioneer families that lived down on the Penasco about 12 or 15 miles below Mayhill, I won't mention their names because probably some of their descendants are living and they might not see the funny side of it.
Dad had made a trespass on them and given 'em notice to round up and remove many head of cattle. I remember old Mr. Mayhill, for whom the little town of Mayhill was named, and who was quite friendly with the Forest Service and particularly with my father, came and told him that this family had gotten all the sons and brothers, everybody, together, and that they were going to refuse to move their stock. They were all armed, and he advised my father not to press his luck and, if he did go, to try to get someone from the Sheriff's office, or other Forest Service personnel, to go with him, because he was afraid there might be violence.
I remember my father refused, and decided not to go armed, because he was afraid if he did, that could in itself bring about some shooting or violence. He showed up unarmed and I think it so shocked the whole group that it threw them off-balance. Simply by standing up to the ten or twelve people that were there, unarmed, he talked them into moving the livestock off.
I've thought back about the early-day Forest Rangers, and some of the things they had to do, and I've known of other Forest Rangers who were doing similar things, coming up against similar bad situations. I just give the details on this one because I was more intimately familiar with it, but it was representative of things that were going on in those days.
That reminds me of another incident that happened just before my father went into the Forest Service. It happened in the Sacramento Mountains up on the head of the Aqua Chiquita. Dad was running a trap line at that time and I was stringin' along with him. We were ridin' down a little drainage and saw this man walking along up towards us with his rifle over his shoulder. That didn't attract any particular attention because everybody more or less carried rifles in those days. In fact, my father had a .30-.30 rifle in its scabbard hung on his saddle, and he also had a pistol that he carried on his belt and it stuck down in one of his hip pockets. Well, we pulled up to stop and visit, as most people did in the country back in those days.
A few words were spoken and this fellow suddenly raised up his rifle and pointed it at my father and said, "You're another one of those Forest Rangers that was sent in here, I guess." He said, "You know I run the last three Forest Rangers out, an' you're gonna be the fourth." He accused my father of a lot of things that was new to both he and I and, knowing my father, I could see him beginning to smoke quite a bit under the collar, and getting pretty mad.
The fellow looked him over after he had cussed him out, and he seemed to run down with what he had to say. Looked him over and decided that all he had was a rifle in the scabbard, so he set his own rifle down and leaned it against his side, and got out his Bull Durham and rolled a cigarette. When he stuck his head down to light his cigarette, my father pulled his revolver out of his hip pocket and when the guy looked up he was looking into this revolver. I remember his mouth came open and his cigarette fell to the ground. I thought my father was gonna shoot him, he was so darned mad, but he didn't. He finally told him to drop his rifle and beat it down the trail, and if he ever saw him again he was going to shoot him.
We went on down the trail a little ways and then my father got to wondering what this was all about. We had a dog with us, so we started to making some circles in there and the dog located a badly wounded doe that had recently been shot. Apparently this was the reason for this man having tried to run us off with his rifle he figured my father was a Game Warden and would prosecute him.
Well, that's just a little sidelight on the early-day happenings that still stick in my memory pretty clearly although they happened when I was quite small.
From Mayhill my father was moved to Cloudcroft as District Ranger. It might be of interest to you that the dwelling where we lived, right in the village of Cloudcroft, was originally the Alamo Forest Supervisor's headquarters the Alamo National Forest, I believe it was called. They had consolidated that with some other National Forest that I don't recall now, and created what is presently the Lincoln National Forest, and the Supervisor's headquarters was moved down to Alamogordo.
Anyway, I remember living in Cloudcroft and the deep snow that occurred. They must've had an unusually bad winter, because the snow crusted and us kids, not weighing very much, were able to walk on top of the snow, right on top of the fences. We used to get our sleds and take off from the backyard on the west edge of Cloudcroft and slide all the way down into the canyon, down close to the mouth of Toboggan Canyon.
* * * * * * * * * *
Act of March 3, 1905 (33 Stat., 872): "Provided; That the cost of any building erected shall not exceed five hundred dollars; ..."
* * * * * * * * * *
During the fall, must have been about 1919, they decided to move the District Ranger headquarters to High Rolls. At that time High Rolls was quite a little resort town, over a hundred cottages, and a hotel that was quite sizeable for that day and age.
The principal visitors there during the summer-time were El Paso residents. They would ride the train up to Alamogordo, the main line of the Old El Paso & Southwestern Railway, and then take the spur line that ran up to Cloudcroft, and out to Russia, which had been built primarily for logging purposes but which did carry passengers.
In fact, Cloudcroft and High Rolls had become such favorite summer resorts that they put on open cars. They were made something like the early-day streetcars, with outsides to them. There were seats and you just sat there and looked around. There were little railings to hold onto, otherwise you could have fallen right off the car.
Anyway, they took down this old Supervisor's headquarters building, later District headquarters at Cloudcroft, hauled it by wagon down to High Rolls and rebuilt it there. They bought a little new lumber and materials, I guess, but very largely they used the old second hand material. I will always recall that my mother was one of the happiest wives in the Forest Service because she had one of the first modern dwellings in the whole Forest Service in Region 3; it had a bathtub and inside plumbing.
That Ranger Station was built by my father and a Ranger at large who you will remember quite well it was Ralph Hussey, who later became Forest Supervisor of the Apache National Forest, and Forest Supervisor of the Coconino National Forest.
We were at High Rolls several years. I think Dad transferred to the old Datil National Forest in the spring of 1923. It was March, because I remember traveling between Magdalena and Chloride on my birthday. It was a very cold, rainy day across the St. Augustine Plains, which can be real cold with a little wind.
It might be of interest to people today that we packed our personal belongings and what furniture we had, crated it and put it on the train and sent it by freight down through El Paso and around through Socorro and then by the branch line of the Santa Fe that went from Socorro to Magdalena. Magdalena was the Supervisor's headquarters for the old Datil National Forest. Mother, Father, and I with our saddle horses and a couple of pack animals, rode horseback from Alamogordo to Magdalena.
Our route took us through Mocking Bird Gap and approximately across the site of the firing of the first atomic bomb. As I think back about that trip through there, I recall that we were concerned with making springs, or getting to places where we could camp and have water. We had no feed for our horses so I have to deduce that we had pretty good grass in that country in those days, or else our saddle stock wouldn't have made it. But they did make it without any extra feed, and it was rather an uneventful trip.
I do remember camping on the edge of the old coal-mining town of Carthage, as we came through. Carthage is located about 14 or 15 miles just about east of San Antonio, New Mexico, and was served by a railroad. Today, while there are a few traces of the old railroad grade, there's nothing but a few mounds of old 'dobes that melted down to indicate that there used to be 2,000 or 3,000 people living out there in that area.
Dad became District Ranger of the Chloride District on the old Datil, and I finished the eighth grade there at Chloride. I was the only Anglo in school, and the only one in the eighth grade. I remember that part very well. The following fall, I went to school at Carlsbad.
You started out by asking me questions about going to school in Carlsbad. I started there in my first grade, and I started there in high school. I stayed with an aunt and uncle who lived in Carlsbad. The following year I went to school in Hot Springs, or at least it was known as Hot Springs at that time. It's now called Truth or Consequences. I batched most of the time, had a little apartment there.
Mother would come down from Chloride and spend a week with me once in a while; patch my clothes and darn my socks, and get me straightened again and I would spend the rest of the time there on my own. The following year I boarded out with a couple of families, during the course of the school year, and worked in the bank there, the First National Bank of Hot Springs. I did some bit of clerical work and did the janitor work in this small bank.
At the end of my sophomore year I had taken a trip with the Superintendent of the high school; gone across the Black Range Mountains and into the Gila country, way up the West Fork of the Gila. I had gotten him interested by telling him stories about the country, so he talked me into guiding him in there. We had quite a trip, caught a lot of fish, saw a lot of wildlife, and had a real enjoyable time. Had one of our pack mules killed by a mountain lion, and really had some experiences.
Anyway, the Superintendent became interested in me and felt a little bit sorry for me having to stay away from home to go to high school. He made me a proposition that if I would study on the side and take examinations and satisfactorily pass them, that he thought he could fix it so I could get through high school in three years. So we tried that, and I did make it through, with his help and probably a great deal of generosity which I shouldn't have had because I found that freshman year in college to be a little bit rough. I don't think I was too well prepared because of having gone through high school in three years.
I graduated in 1926 from high school and took my first job with the Forest Service as lookout at Diamond Peak, on the old Mimbres District of the Gila National Forest.
Quite a coincidence; I told you a while ago that my father started work for a Ranger by the name of Ben Nabours. Ben Nabours was Ranger on the Mimbres Ranger District when I had my first job on that District. I went to Kingston and spent a night there with Euel Nave, who you know. That was Euel Nave's first District assignment. At that point we were met by Lew Putsch, who was Assistant Supervisor on the Gila, and some others that I don't recall at the present time. I remember there was a packer in the bunch.
The next day we traveled by horseback up to Hillsboro Peak and had a fire training session up there that lasted about three days, as I remember. I also recall that we had a storm; it rained and then sleeted and we had ice all over the whole country. It was really a miserable time, but we made out with the training in a sort of half-dugout cabin there and a tent that had been put up.
Then we worked trail from Hillsboro Peak across to the old McKnight cabin, which I recall you knew as Supervisor of the Gila. I remember staying there with you one time when you were Supervisor and I was participating in a GI inspection. The rats were so bad that we finally decided that we ought to take the old cabin down.
Anyway, we worked trail, spent a night or two at the old McKnight cabin and then proceeded on down the Continental Divide to Diamond Peak lookout. Lew Putsch went along and some others and we took the materials and installed lightning protection on the old wooden lookout there. That was about the time we were beginning to get copper wiring and framework to put on the lookout. I was very happy to have that lightning protection a little bit later on.
With the early signs of the fire season breaking and the rainy season starting, we were having some dry lightning storms around, as you have, you know, in the mountains. I was watching a little cloud off a few miles to the west of the peak, with a little lightning play, and being very careful to spot any fire that might be started. There was no lightning even close; otherwise I would have left the tower and gone down into the cabin, as we were instructed to do as a protective measure.
All of a sudden there was a bolt of lightning struck the tower, and burned big black strips down the legs where the copper wire was located, knocked the phone out, and blinded me for about 30 minutes. It was a tremendously white light and it just left me blinded; I couldn't see, and it just about scared me to death. I went down into the old cabin and I was still pretty scared.
The lightning hit a big old fir tree right back of the cabin and knocked a huge slab off. This slab bounced over and hit the back of this little log cabin. On the inside we had an apple-box tacked up there in which we kept our tin dishes, tin cups, and so forth. This caused all this tinware to fall of on the floor and rattle and the tremendous crash of the thunder and all of this, just about spooked me off the mountain; I almost quit the Forest Service and ended my career right there! Actually I wasn't hurt and I'm sure my safety was due to the fact that we had installed this lightning protection. Well, that was my first summer in the Forest Service.
I worked during the summertimes at various jobs, from building fences and telephone lines, as fire guard, trail maintenance. I even worked one summer as a powder monkey on building the road from Beaverhead across Corduroy and down Hoyt Creek toward the old DD Bar. The road eventually was constructed down to Diamond Creek and tied in with the road that was built through from the Sapello. You remember back before the turn of the century there was an old military route there, and we rebuilt that road; that is, it was eventually rebuilt. I only worked on it that summer as a powder monkey and I didn't know a darned thing about powder except what they told me.
One summer I worked on range reconnaissance work with Bob Boyle, who I think you also know. He worked for the Forest Service at that time and eventually went to the Soil Conservation Service and is presently head of the SCS for the State of Arizona.
Then I accompanied Dunc Lang on a very interesting assignment. It was in 1929; we made a rough ocular estimate of the merchantable timber on what was established as the Black Range Primitive Area and the Gila Wilderness Area. Dunc didn't know that country, and I did, and that was the reason I was selected for this assignment. I had worked or been over that country for a good many years, ridden all parts of it and acted as guide for hunters, I worked for Dub Evans when he ran the Slash Ranch.
Anyway, to me that was one of the most interesting things that I participated in. The Gila Wilderness Area was the first wilderness area established in the National Forest system and was the forerunner of a system that has become tremendously important, as you know. I guess it contributed in some way to the passage of the Wilderness Act of last year [i.e., 1964] which now gives the Wilderness System stability, and means that they can not be altered in any way or done away with, without the concurrence of Congress.
Let's see, in 1927 I started to school at Colorado Aggies; I believe you were there at that time, too, Ed, weren't you?
You told me stories about the Gila.
Well, I spent some time there studying Forestry and then I went to work in 1931, back down in this Region of the Forest Service. I had to drop out of school, as you may remember, because I'd had an appendectomy; I'd been making most of my own way through school, and I couldn't quite hang on financially, although I later obtained my BS degree in Forestry.
I started work on the old Datil, building telephone lines, and then joined a timber survey party headed by Bill Beveridge. It involved the cruising of the timber and the making of a topographic map of the Capitan Mountains on the Lincoln National Forest. Harvey Barlow was a member of that party. We spent eight months, beginning, I believe, some time in April. Moving our camp from time to time to keep reasonably close to our work so we didn't have to walk too far, we ended up the last two weeks completing a little timber survey work in the vicinity of what is now Ruidoso. In fact, that was just the beginning of a little resort town at Ruidoso then, in 1931.
Times weren't so good, as you'll remember, about then; no appointments were being made. There was only temporary work in the Forest Service. I found some other employment that winter for a while, did some odd jobs, working in a filling station and garage down in Magdalena. My parents were at Magdalena by that time. Father was District Ranger there.
In 1932, I went down about April and was Assistant Ranger on the old High Rolls, or Sacramento District, on the Lincoln. I worked for Lou Laney, who was District Ranger there at that time and who is now retired from Federal Service. From there I went onto a road job in the early fall and was suddenly offered a move to be Assistant Ranger on the Tijeras District, of the Cibola.
Pink Arnold was District Ranger there at that time. I'd been recommended to him by some mutual acquaintances. He had an assistant in the wintertime rather than in the summer, contrary to the usual practices in the Forest Service at that time. This was largely due to the fact that they cut Christmas trees in those days and had a lot of business that required additional help. So I came up to Tijeras about October, and worked there with Pink Arnold.
I was engaged to a girl up in Fort Collins; we had never got enough money together to get married. Things were looking a little better financially and we took the jump; Elsie and I got married in January of 1933. We lived in a little cabin out at Tijeras and were taken in as part of the family as far as Pink and Helen Arnold were concerned. I guess'we ve looked upon them as second parents ever since.
Anyway, about the end of March I was offered the Canjilon Ranger District on the Carson National Forest. It was the most insignificant, smallest little District in Region 3, I guess, at that time. But we were quite happy; we didn't care that it was a hundred miles from a railroad and had an old shack for a Ranger Station. It meant getting a start and we were quite jubilant about the prospects.
About five days before I was to leave for the Carson National Forest, I received word that there'd been a change in plans and that I was to report to the Lincoln and take charge of the timber survey work on that Forest. This meant living out in camp and that was quite a blow to a young married couple. Anyway, there wasn't any help for it.
I reported to Corona in April 1933. The first job was to make a timber survey and topographic map of the Gallinas Mountains. When we finished that we moved to the West Capitan Mountains and completed about a township of country in there. We moved from there westward and took in the timber type on the Carrizo Mountain; it doesn't amount to very much, but there were a few stringers of timber and we did go in and gather that up. Along about the end of September I moved in to Alamogordo and was to be attached to the Supervisor's Office for the winter to compile the survey data that we had gathered.
I had to come to Albuquerque on business, and I did this on a week-end. I came to see Pink Arnold, who had been brought into the Regional Office to head up recreational work for the Southwestern Region.
The CCC work was just getting started. For the first time we had a definite program for constructing recreation facilities for camping and picnicking on the National Forests. Pink, who had shown a great deal of personal interest in this sort of thing, had scrounged around and managed to build a few old tables out of scrap lumber, and give some attention to the recreationists from Albuquerque, out in the Sandias. This caused him to be selected to head up this work.
He was a real good administrator, but surveying and mapping was something beyond him; he was never able to grasp it. About the time I came to Albuquerque on this little private business trip, Pink was looking for somebody who could fit into his organization and head up the mapping side of it. I just happened to come into view and he knew me, knew that I could do that sort of work, so I was immediately tapped for that.
I remember we had moved into an apartment in Alamogordo that was a second choice. We were told if we would occupy this temporarily, one of the better apartments would be available soon and we could have it. Well, the week-end that I came to Albuquerque my wife got the new apartment and moved into it. When things firmed up on my move to Albuquerque I had to move her out of it. We did a lot of moving in a short space of time.
That was quite a move, to be attached to the Regional Office, for a youngster getting started. My working area suddenly became all of the National Forests in the States of New Mexico and Arizona. I was probably feeling pretty cocky over what I considered to be my good fortune. I took off with a lot of confidence and no knowledge of recreation development, but I was still under Pink Arnold's guidance, making plans for picnic and campground developments throughout the Region.
With the rapid increase in the CCC program and the number of camps, which I believe got to number up around 40 during the Thirties, we were pretty busy making plans and developing camp and picnic grounds for all the National Forests. In fact, some of the improvements that were made out of concrete are still in use today and are quite serviceable.
After a time, it became apparent that I shouldn't delay too long getting some administrative experience in the Forest Service running a Ranger District. I began to chaff a little bit and express a feeling that I wanted to get out and get a District at the first opportunity. Ed Miller came in as Chief of Recreation and Lands about that time and he was quite sympathetic about my desires. He was a firm believer in not delaying too long getting that kind of experience. He sincerely believed that it was the foundation of all of our work in the Forest Service.
In the late fall of 1937 I was given my first Ranger District over on the Prescott National Forest, in Arizona. J. C. Nave was Forest Supervisor at that time. Reuben Boone was Assistant Supervisor. It was a real interesting District; it was a light workload District in comparison with our Districts of today. However, there was a tremendous amount of work to be done; it was quite a challenge to a young fellow who wanted to make a name for himself. It hadn't had a Ranger on it for a good many months. The Ranger there had died of heart failure and they hadn't filled the position for a long time.
Things had gotten pretty well run down. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it there and was there until the first of January 1940, just over two years.
I remember very well going into Prescott one Saturday; in those days we were working until noon on Saturday. I had a little official business and I went down there in the morning. The first thing I did was to go to the County office and get my new license plates for my car because I knew they were going to close at noon. Then I went to the office where I had business, and when I walked in the Supervisor's secretary said, "How do you like your new job?" I said, "What job?" And she said, "Oh, you're moving to the Tijeras Ranger District."
Well, that was news to me. I dashed into the Supervisor's office and he confirmed it. The decision had been made and I was to move in about two weeks. I can remember wishing that I hadn't got in such a hurry to buy my Arizona license plates because I had to come to New Mexico and buy another set before the end of the month.
We moved back to the Ranger District where I had been a number of years before and where I had gotten married. I served there as District Ranger until the fall of 1943 when I went into the armed services. I had a lot of fun on that District. It was a very interesting period in a lot of ways.
I remember that we had to keep the trespass under control. The Spanish-American people living in the numerous villages scattered through that District and around the edge had a very low standard of living and a very low cash income. They didn't feel that it was really too serious, or what we call a criminal act, to steal a little wood once in a while. It was getting caught that was the face-losing part of it. They would actually brag a little bit if they got away with stealing some wood. If they got caught it was a sad day and they went around in shame because they had lost great face, having been caught.
It was very interesting that they had some sort of underground communications system that to this day I don't know anything about; it's a mystery. If I went south, they went north; if I went north, they went south. I used to lay awake nights trying to figure out how to keep this trespass under control, because they would cut green timber, which was actually what we were trying to stop. It wasn't that we cared about the dead timber, but they would cut so much green timber that we had to do something about it. So, I got a bright idea.
One day I rode south and I saw no-one. The woods were empty of wood-cutters. The next morning I got up at daylight and rode south again, exactly the same route. There was a very strong wind blowing. As I topped out over a ridge (I'd been following some fresh wagon tracks and figured I was on the trail of a wood-cutter) I could hear chopping going on down below a ways, so I rode on down. The wind was making such a noise blowing through the trees, and this fellow was so busy chopping on this green tree, that he didn't hear me ride up. I stopped my horse some 15 or 20 feet away and just sat there and watched him for a minute or two.
He stopped chopping and laid down his axe to blow a little bit. He looked up and saw me, and I'll never forget the expression on his face. His chin dropped and he looked at me for a moment, then he took off his hat, threw it on the ground and jumped up and down on it. Then he said, "My God, Meester, I don't theenk you come this way today!" But anyway, you know these people, you hated to bring any charges against 'em because they needed what money they got out of the wood, and things like that were amusing. You couldn't get mad at them; you had to laugh at them a little bit.
Well, after the War, I came back to Albuquerque and was placed on the Supervisor's staff of the Cibola National Forest. I was there only eight or nine months when I was asked to transfer over to Recreation and Lands in the Regional Office to catch up with quite a backlog of recreation work.
As you will recall, much of our activities were curtailed during the War years. Practically anything we could get by without, we did; so there was a tremendous volume of work that was urgently needed in connection with recreation. Because of my earlier experience they wanted me for this work.
I didn't like the idea; I felt that I hadn't been on the Supervisor's staff long enough to become seasoned at that level of work and I didn't want to hurt my chances of advancement in the future. I think, like you and most of the fellows, we had our sights set on being Forest Supervisors some day; that was the height of our ambition. If we were lucky enough to make that, we'd realize all the things we'd dreamed of all the way through college and our working years. Well, they told me that I'd have to move.
I guess not very many people know this, but my wife and I talked it over and we decided we didn't want to do that. So I wrote out my resignation. Alva Simpson was in charge of Personnel Management at that time, and Ed Miller was still Chief of Recreation and Lands. I turned in my resignation. I did it under this sort of a philosophy: I figured and I think this is something that people today could very well adopt, at least go further in that direction that is, if you don't want to do what the organization wants you to do, why, you'd better get out. That is, you're working for them and the tail shouldn't wag the dog. On that philosophy, I just figured it was up to me either to take it, or get out. So I resigned.
Well, it went over to the Regional Office and Alva Simpson called up and wanted me in his office at once. I went over and he was pacing the floor when I walked into the room. He shook his finger in my face and wanted to know what in the world I thought I was doing, and he says, "This is what I think of your damned resignation," and he tore it up and threw it into the wastebasket. "Now," he said, "you've hurt Ed Miller's feelings. He's one of the finest men in the Forest Service. I want you to go over and talk to him and tell him what got into you that you'd do this sort of thing."
Well, I went over across the hall and down a couple of doors and here was Ed Miller. He had assumed that I had some personal dislike for him and that I just didn't want to work for Ed Miller, which was about the furtherest from being the truth. Between those two guys they made me feel so ashamed of myself that I said, "Well, OK, I'll take the job."
They told me, they said, "Now, this only needs to be a temporary thing. We'll set it up for not longer than a year, then you can go ahead with your regular staff work, and this won't hurt you."
That sort of built up my hopes and I guess I hadn't wanted to quit the outfit very bad anyway. I got back in the Recreation game then and the year stretched into two years.
Pretty soon we were going to have a retirement in the Division of Recreation and Lands. Sim Strickland, who was the "Mr. Land Exchange" for the Forest Service in this Region for so many years and who did such a fine job, was getting up about 68 or 69, and while his health was still good and he was productive and all, it was inevitable that he would have to retire soon. Mr. Woodhead was the Regional Forester. By that time Ed Miller had retired, and Art Schilling was Chief of Recreation and Lands.
Howard Hopkins, Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, who headed up the Lands functions at that level, was out on an inspection. I was asked to participate in part of his tour of the Region. When we got back from the field, I was called down to the Regional Forester's office to talk with him and Mr. Hopkins. They proposed to me that I take on the Land Exchange job following Mr. Strickland's retirement and that I get started on it right away in order to take advantage of the training that he could give me.
Well, this was another blow; I hadn't gotten back on the Forest staff as I had been shooting for and had been promised, and I had the feeling that Land Exchange would just be a dead end alley.
While I had the greatest admiration for Sim Strickland, he had been stuck with that assignment for, I guess, close to 20 years. Some of us felt that had he not been so valuable in that little area of work, he would have been a Forest Supervisor and probably would have advanced in grade.
Well, I was pretty reluctant to take it, but finally decided I would. I served an assignment in the Chief's Office for training purposes and came back here and took on the Land Exchange job in this Region. That must have been in December of 1949 that I took that job.
Then, in the spring of 1952, I was offered the job as Supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Region 1, with headquarters in Great Falls, Montana. I certainly would have to say that the next four years were the most rewarding to me personally and the most interesting of my years in the Service. One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the Lewis and Clark was the numerous streams. They mostly were so much larger than our streams in this country that to a boy who had been raised in the Southwest and didn't always have enough water to take a bath in, that was quite an experience.
Another thing that was quite enjoyable to me was the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. I managed to get at least one trip, and usually two trips [each year], into that country and spend some time. While I particularly enjoyed it and felt like it was a vacation, it was of course part of my job to get back there and manage that country.
I shall never forget the first trip back there. It was early; the high country hadn't yet opened up but we could get into about the middle elevations. This was a special trip with some people interested in wildlife management outside the Service, and also involved the Regional Forester. We had the District Ranger there, and my Range and Wildlife Staffman from my office, along with the rest of the group.
The saddle and pack stock had just recently been gotten off of winter pasture and shod and made ready for the summer season. I'd not seen any of the animals before so I didn't know them individually. We went to the edge of the Wilderness Area and spent a night at one of the field stations on the Forest and got up early the next morning to get a start horseback on into the wilderness country. We got our gear together. There was a brand-new saddle for me as the new Supervisor, because my predecessor had taken his saddle with him, as is often customary. Fellows move their saddles around with them because they get one that fits 'em and they like it. So I had a brand new saddle, of stiff leather, you know, the stirrups weren't set yet, and a new saddle is always very slick.
I stood back to see who rode what horse and let each one pick their favorite mount. I had no particular preference one way or the other. Finally one of the fellows asked me which horse I would like and I told him I'd let them pick one out for me; it didn't make any difference. They said, "Oh, that great big black over there is traditionally the Supervisor's horse, and if you like the looks of him, we suggest you ride him."
I knew that none of the stock had been ridden yet except one or two that our packer had used, and so would be a little bit touchy after not having a saddle on for some six or seven months. I treated the horse accordingly, was careful in handling him, putting on my saddle. We all got ready to go and nobody seemed to want to take the lead and say, "Well, let's get on our way. Not even knowing which direction we were going, I didn't show much leadership myself. After 'while it became obvious that nobody was going to lead off, so I turned my horse a couple of times and very carefully stepped on. I could tell that he might break in two if things didn't go just right. Everybody else just stood there and watched. The horse trembled for a few seconds, downed his head and took off! As it happened, he took off uphill and was soon up against the old cabin there, and that caused him to stop.
I got him turned around and he moved off rather rapidly, but without pitching, and I decided the best thing to do was to let him move freely and not try to hold him up. He was tremendously big for a saddle horse and awfully long-legged. I didn't feel very lucky with that brand new saddle.
Anyway, we took off down the trail and after about a hundred yards the rest of the folks were mounting up, and about a mile later began to catch up with me. They were all having a lot of fun over my exhibition. It turned out that this horse they gave me hadn't had a saddle on for over two years, and was just a little bit hard to handle. They thought it would be real interesting to find out if the newcomer from the Southwest knew anything about horses, If I could pass the test with that horse, I was in as far as the Forest Service people in Region 1 were concerned. I didn't exactly appreciate it, but at least they had a lot of fun out of it.
After four years on the Lewis and Clark, I was transferred to the Washington Office and served for a time as Assistant Director of the Division of Land Acquisition. This assignment no doubt came about as a result of my earlier work on land exchange in Region 3. After a little over a year on that assignment I was offered the job of Assistant Regional Forester in charge of Recreation and Lands here in the Regional Office for the Southwestern Region.
I came here about the first of September 1957 and have continued in that capacity up to this time. It's been very interesting work all through the years; there's never been a dull moment that I can recall, There's always been more work than we could do. I've been blessed with a lot of very fine people. I found out a long time ago that one individual can't do very much by himself, but if he has good help he can accomplish quite a bit.
Some of the things I think about back through the years that I might take a little personal pride in, all sort of run together except for one, maybe two things. I'm sure nobody is going to remember me for having worked out some knotty grazing problems, or got some needed timber sales going, or harvested some decadent, insect-infested trees; but I think that I might be remembered in, and I can remember details, about people who have worked with me through the years, and the people I've had some part in moving along to better jobs.
I think particularly of the fellows who've gone on to be Forest Supervisors. Let's see, there's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, that I can think of quickly people who've been on my staff through the years that have gone on to be Forest Supervisors. I'm real proud of those folks; although I contributed very little, I was associated with them during a period when they were advancing. I'm real happy about those boys. I think of another one; that runs it up to eight.
Another thing I'm most pleased with, get a great personal satisfaction out of, is having worked out some land exchange problems here in the Southwestern Region which I think will contribute to maintaining and improving the value of the National Forest properties for generations to come. I have been able to do this with rather large tracts of land before they became badly cluttered with homes and subdivisions and that sort of thing. This has been rather important because it isn't going to be too long before these large tracts are going to be badly cut up and they will not be so valuable for the multiple purposes that attach to the National Forests as they are when they comprise large tracts of wild lands.
Just the wildlife itself, one value of the National Forests, the habitat is destroyed when you don't have pretty sizeable tracts of wild land. When you get people scattered all the way through, the habitat is disturbed, the wildlife is disturbed, and they don't do so well.
Well, Ed, that's a lot of rambling. Are there some questions you'd like to ask, or some areas that you'd like for me to get into that I may have passed by or skipped over?
That's an excellent resume of your career, Zane. It's been a pleasure to sit back and listen to it. I do think with all of the experience that you have had growing up in the Forest Service and starting to work at an early age you must have been in your 'teens when you had the job on Diamond Peak that you must have had lots of experiences and incidents that would be extremely interesting to hear about.
Talking about Diamond Peak and the Gila Wilderness Area reminds me of one of the most colorful old-time Rangers the Southwest ever had, named Henry Woodrow. I know he was a personal friend of yours. He had the adjoining District to the Mimbres on which I was located, and my lookout served a lot of his country, at least it overlapped with lookouts that were on his District, and some of his country was blind except to my particular lookout. Henry had lots of fires.
Henry was a pretty rugged, self-sufficient individual and he didn't call for help. He took his little trail crews and he put 'em out. They used to call up Henry because the lookouts would be reporting in that smokes were boiling up, and they'd ask Henry if he needed any help and he'd tell 'em very politely that he'd let 'em know if he needed any help. We used to have to make a special damage report on any fire that exceeded ten acres. It was kind of a joke around the Gila down there that Henry Woodrow never had a fire over nine acres in extent. I remember Henry quite well, and how effective he could be sometimes in handling situations.
It was contrary to the usual practices, but for some reason or other, it was a stepson of Henry's that was employed on one of his lookouts up there. I guess it was at a time when help was pretty hard to get; they were probably pressed to get someone who knew the country. This fellow, named Bob, was certainly an excellent woodsman; knew that country well, and was employed by Henry as lookout on Granite Peak. The lookout tower was about a mile from the cabin. Bob rode up to the lookout each morning and stayed until sundown, then rode back to his cabin.
Henry became a little suspicious that Bob wasn't handling his job according to instructions. One morning when he gave the test call, which was a particular ring on the old grounded telephone line that reached all the lookouts and all the stations in the Mogollon Mountains, why he checked off each lookout very carefully. When he got all through, Bob had checked in properly for Granite Peak lookout, Henry says, "Bob, are you up in the tower?" Bob says, "I sure am." Henry says, "That's funny; I am too!"
Henry talked rather haltingly and part of the interest that people had in talking with him and enjoying him was the way he expressed himself. Anyway, he was quite a colorful character and should be credited with the fine system of trails that, at least once, existed through that Gila Wilderness country.
Oh, there've been a lot of very interesting people through the years. I had a very interesting group of people to work with on my first Ranger District. They say there's nothing worse than a retired Forest Officer, or an ex-Forest Officer to do business with. On the Verde District of the Prescott I had an ex-District Forest Ranger and an ex-Forest Supervisor in a wood and post company to deal with. They knew most of the answers; how far I could go, what I could get away with, what they could get away with, and they stretched those things to the limit. Kept me on needles and pins all the time.
I'll never forget a lesson that I learned from Supervisor Nave in connection with some of those troubles, a lesson that has worked or a procedure at least that has worked for me through the years very well. I gave this wood and post company an ultimatum; 30 days in which to correct some unacceptable practices in regard to their woods operations, delivered the necessary letter in writing, spelling all this out, and delivered it in person. I kept track of them and they didn't pay any attention to it, and at the end of the 30 days I went out and shut down their operations.
Well, they were pretty mad. The ex-Ranger was actually in charge of this company. He screamed a few times, got in his car and headed for Prescott for a session with the Forest Supervisor. The Supervisor said, well, he'd come out the next day and arrange for a meeting between himself and this man and myself. We'd see if we couldn't work things out.
The Supervisor came by and picked me up in his car and we went up to where this company had their business office. The man was pretty abusive, walked the floor, shook his fist and he'd say, "Now this is unreasonable;" "Now, this shouldn't be required;" "This should be done," etc., "Shouldn't it, Mr. Nave?" Supervisor Nave got off over in the corner and sat down and was listening, and he'd say, "Well, that's the District Ranger, you'll have to ask him."
After about an hour of this, the man finally subsided and agreed to correct the things that were unsatisfactory and abide by the sale agreements in the future. Of course, I had to be right to begin with for the Supervisor to have taken that attitude. He made himself sit on the sidelines as a sort of referee; he made the individual deal with the District Ranger, myself in that instance. I had to cope with it and I had to realize that I had to be right.
Of course, the trespasser in that case, the ex-Ranger, knew exactly whether I was right or whether I was wrong. He was just blustering around until he eventually gave in. Didn't have any more trouble with that particular group after that. But it was a lesson in personnel management in dealing with people that I've used through the years.
I will always remember Nick Perkins there on that District. He'd come to that country when he was a small boy, I believe he said about 12 years old, with his parents, and had stayed on around the old home ranch. He was a lion hunter, along with being a stockman: a very rugged individual. He never got going until about 10 o'clock in the morning, but he never got in until 10:00 or 11:00 at night, which was the hard way of doing things, in my opinion. I had a lot of interesting trips with Nick; he happened to operate back in the Sycamore wilderness country.
This country was full of old Indian ruins and Nick liked to prowl around them. We'd usually stop and have our sandwiches in the middle of the day somewhere where we could prowl around old Indian ruins and pick up some arrowheads and that sort of thing. I found a number of old metates in that country that I never quite got out. I always wanted to bring one out but they were too heavy to carry, and I never seemed to find one when I had a pack animal with me. I would cache them around a tree or a rock butte or something, hoping one day I'd pick one up. So I guess the ten or twelve metates that I cached away maybe are still back there, I don't know.
I remember one particularly hard day we had gone back into that country, Nick Perkins and I. It was away into the night when we got the horses taken care of. There was a sort of overhanging cliff that Nick camped under occasionally, particularly if it was bad wether. He always had a little firewood gathered up there and sometimes had a sack of salt or something hung up. In the summertime he might even keep a few cans of vegetables or canned meats so he wouldn't have to pack so much food in.
Anyway, we'd had this real rough day, and way into the night, and the next morning it was quite frosty. Nick crawled out of bed before I got fully awake, and built a little fire. Then I heard him rustling around in one of the kyacks and could hear plates and tin cups rattling and pretty soon I heard Nick at my bedside. I threw back my tarp, and here was Nick with a tin cup and a bottle of Old Yellowstone Bourbon that he'd cached away over in the rocks. He thought that would be a good way to wake me up and get me out of bed.
I'll never forget old Nick and his bottles of Old Yellowstone that he had cached away at almost all of his more favored camp spots, all the way back through the Sycamore wilderness there. He never drank much that I ever saw, but he would have a little short nip every morning to wake up on.
Well, Zane, you mentioned your work in Recreation. I know that you were interested in it right at the very beginning. Could you trace the development of the Recreation programs and their impact on the Region, in a little more detail?
Well, when you ask me that, it takes me back to something that was uncovered in some of the old files on the Coconino National Forest a number of years ago.
There was a little report prepared by the District Ranger at Sedona, which is at the mouth of Oak Creek. At that time there was an old wagon road from Flagstaff that dropped down into Oak Creek at approximately the same point the highway goes into it now, and on down to Sedona. I've seen the remains of the old road. You could get the old Model Ts over it, but they had to back up on the switchbacks; that is, you ran forward, then you'd back up to the next switchback, then you'd go forward again.
Well, it seems that Oak Creek was becoming a favorite recreation spot, and the District Ranger's report was to the effect that there had been almost 500 visitors to Oak Creek Canyon during the past 12 months. He predicted that in the years to come this would become so popular that they might expect to have 2,000 or 3,000 visitors into Oak Creek. I think last year the recreationists into Oak Creek numbered somewhere around a million; I've forgotten the exact figure.
We had an occasional Ranger, like Pink Arnold that I mentioned earlier, who was interested in people and believed in recreation, and felt it was a proper use of the National Forests. There was another old-timer who lived down at Cochise Stronghold on the Coronado I don't remember his name now but he scrounged around and got some second-hand lumber and put up some tables and got some old cans and put them around for the collection of garbage. Now that Cochise Stronghold site and a few rustic improvements in the Sandias put in by Pink Arnold, are the very earliest actual improvements that I am aware of; they go back somewhere into the late Twenties.
With the CCC programs, beginning in the Thirties, about '33 I guess it was, we began to develop recreation areas all over the Region. There were over 400 that were developed in about a ten or eleven-year period. Some of those were quite small, admittedly; just a toilet and maybe a dug garbage pit with a cover over it, one table and a fireplace. They went all the way from that sort of a set up to a 50- or 60-family unit, comprised of table, fireplace, and essential facilities.
Recreation use began to pick up along through the Thirties, with the various alphabetical programs that were helping the country kinda get its feet back on the ground and pull itself out of the Depression. There was a five and a half day week; there were some roads being built, making it a little bit easier for people to get around and into the Forests. Recreation began to command quite a spot of importance in Forest Service work.
The War came along and everything pretty well stopped. The facilities were not maintained. We had gas rationing; very few people visiting the Forests. But in 1946 it began to go again. The use, total recreation use in Region 3, was about 850,000 visitors in 1946. Because I was working with it in 1946, I remember very well that the Region got an allotment of $28,000 to maintain Recreation improvements and to do all the necessary clean-up work, hauling away of garbage and that sort of thing. It was a pitiful allotment to accomplish the job we had ahead of us.
We got an inspection from the Washington Office, in fact, it was 1947 instead of 1946 that I recall the particular allotment. Anyway, I made a tour of the Region with this man and he was so impressed with our urgent needs that he telephoned back to the Washington Office and asked them to adjust the allocation of funds between the Regions. We got an increase of $5,000, which made $33,000 for that fiscal year. It's been going up ever since then.
At that particular time we still had enough facilities in the way of family units, or capacity in family units, to approximate the use we were getting. It didn't last long. Use began to go up, and by 1952 we had a deficit of about 2,700 family units in the Region. I've forgotten now the total volume of recreation use, but I believe it was about 2,500,000. Last year, last calendar year, it was 13,750,000 so you can see how rapidly it's going up.
And now, in spite of the fact that we've had Operation Outdoors, we've had Forest Service programs which has caused Congress to give us substantially increased allotments for recreation we now have a deficit of around 12,000 family units for the amount of use that we're getting. We're about that much too low in capacity. That doesn't mean that in some particular spots we aren't in pretty good shape, but take it on the whole, that's about the picture.
Now this leads me to comment on some of the reasons why we've fallen so far behind. I wouldn't want to leave the impression that Congress has just ignored the situation. Congress, beginning away back in the Forties, following World War II, took the position that they were not justified in appropriating enough Federal dollars, that were paid in by all of the taxpayers, to finance full recreation jobs; because all of the people don't enjoy recreation on the National Forests. Not all of the people are even interested in National Forest recreation. Some of them are physically unable to, or they are so located that it is beyond their reach. It would be too expensive for them to travel hundreds of miles to get to camp or picnic on a National Forest.
So they said that the individual recreationists should pay part of the load. They said this would be proper because everybody else who uses the Forests, utilizes the forage, or harvests the timber, pays the market current value for the amount of forage taken, or the timber taken, and the recreationists should pay also. At one time, in the late Forties, they insisted that we start charging, at least on an experimental basis.
We took a few of our areas that could be brought into a charge system because of the way they were located, because they received considerable volume of use, and did put them on a nominal fee basis. We found that we were spending just about as much to collect a dollar as we were getting. It wasn't very practical and none of us could really get our hearts into this thing because we were simply increasing the cost to the people. In other words, we were having to take the taxpayers' dollars and we were taking dollars from the individual user, and spending that much to collect a dollar, so it didn't make too much sense.
This trend that I have tried to show for the Southwestern Region has been going on all over the United States. We have had a growing awareness of the value of outdoor recreation. The National Park Service developed its Mission 66 in order to gain public support and Congressional action to finance its needed recreational facilities. The Forest Service initiated its Operation Outdoors, which had a similar objective in mind.
The National Outdoor Recreation Resource Review Commission was appointed by the President and inventoried and studied the present-day needs of the American people, and predicted their future needs for outdoor recreation. They prepared a report for the President which contains some 70 recommendations that were needed to adequately provide for the Nation's outdoor recreation needs today and into the future. Out of this has come the establishment of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation; out of this has come the Wilderness Act, which stabilizes that classification and their retention, as I mentioned earlier today.
More recently, the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, which is a responsibility of the Department of the Interior, and delegated to the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation to head up and coordinate among State agencies and Federal agencies. They will develop and maintain a National Recreation Plan. They will maintain it to bring about needed adjustments from time to time to keep it current with our needs, and to provide for our predicted needs into the future. It will provide for the first time a fund which, upon action by Congress, will be made available to the States on a matching basis to plan purchase areas and develop recreation facilities for outdoors. In fact, 60 percent of the fund will be available for such purposes when appropriated by the Congress. The remaining 40 percent will be available to Federal agencies for the purchase of key recreation sites only. It will be used for the purchase of such things as these needed seashores that you read about in the papers so that they do come into public ownership and their recreation values are maintained for future generations.
The Forest Service will receive some part of these funds, and as far as this particular part of the United States is concerned, we will be using them to acquire key tracts inside Wilderness Areas as a very first priority, and key tracts around the edge of Wilderness Areas which control access to them. Then a few other highly needed tracts, such as up on the Pecos River where we have only a few acres of public land in the entire drainage, but hundreds of thousands of recreationists, and we need space to develop for their camping and picnicking needs.
We also need to acquire stream frontage which is open to the general public. At the present time I suppose 90 percent of that Pecos drainage outside of the Wilderness Area is posted to the public. There are some resorts who allow fishing by their guests only, but the general public is kept out.
We are just now moving into an era of providing for outdoor recreation and I forgot to mention that the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act also provides for an admission and user charge. Designated areas which are primarily valuable for, and administered for, scientific, historical, scenic, or other recreational values, will be subject to an admission charge in this particular Region beginning June 1 of this year. The charge will be very nominal for those who choose to purchase the annual Recreation Conservation sticker. This will cost $7.00, and when placed on the bumper of a noncommercial automobile, will take that automobile and all of its occupants into any designated area of any National Forest, National Monument, National Park, or other Federally-managed recreation area such as those developed by the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, TVA, Fish and Wildlife Service; anywhere in the United States, any number of 'em. You could spend every day in the year going to a different one if you had the time and the transportation; and you could do all of this with your $7.00 sticker. Those who go only once or twice a year to one of these charge areas, have the option of securing a 50 cents daily permit per person over 16 years of age.
Those who go to only one National Park, for example, or only one National Forest, and who may go several times, and don't want to use the daily sticker or don't want to buy the $7.00 sticker, can get an individual seasonal permit for $2.50 that will entitle them to go as many times as they like to this particular National Forest, National Park, et cetera, during that season.
So now we have finally reached that point that Congress has said, for almost 20 years to my personal knowledge, that we should be getting to, in charging individuals for recreation. We are in hopes that this will be well accepted by the public, that they will go along with it, that we will not have to become a police force to enforce it, and that this will provide a source of revenue to develop recreational facilities and to acquire needed recreation lands.
Zane, there is one more little area I'd like to explore with you. I remember when Sim Strickland was, to use your expression, known as "Mr. Land Exchange," I've heard several people say, and I feel correctly so, that Zane Smith took the mystery out of land exchange. How in the world did you accomplish that?
I'm not so sure that I ever accomplished that, Ed. Sim was a highly capable individual, and he worked in a period when the people were busy with other things; they didn't have time to devote to land exchange and, by necessity, it became pretty much a one-man show. I would not want to have anything in the record that would cause anyone to think that perhaps Sim deliberately developed secrecy in land exchange because he wanted to hold it to himself and be the whole show, or something like that. He was merely a victim of circumstances of the day. This was recognized as a procedure or a condition that existed in the Service by Howard Hopkins at the time he visited the Region.
The thing that he took me back to Washington for, to get specific about it, was not only to train me in procedures in land exchange, but to show me the need for developing understanding and participation by all of our yearlong personnel, at least our District Rangers, Forest Supervisor, and Staff, if we were ever going to get a job done. He recognized that it could not be accomplished by a single individual; it had to be a team approach. I bought that idea.
My first responsibilities that I was charged with when I left the Chief's Office and came back here to replace Sim on the job, was to develop and carry out a program of training. It was to gain understanding and to sell the idea of land exchange and how it could be used to improve the value of National Forest properties and to solve so many of our problems, and to make the lands more useful to the people. That wasn't too hard to do.
I think you participated in one of the sessions that I held. I went to every Forest over a period of several months and we worked together, the Supervisor and his Staff and all the District Rangers, for about two days, as I recall. We talked about it and argued about things, and tried to clear up some of the mysteries. It produced some results. We didn't make Land Exchange people out of our personnel, but we did make them conscious of it. They began to say, "Look, we've got an opportunity, so-and-so is going to sell out," or, "So-and-so is going to retire," this is happening, and I think there's an opportunity here to do something.
While very few individuals actually studied the Manual enough to become well versed in land exchange procedures, they would call upon one of us who was carrying on that work to come help 'em out, or come and talk to somebody and see if something could be worked out. In that way we made some gains, and we are still pretty much in that sort of a situation.
Another thing I did that helped a little, but which went into disuse and collected dust, was a land-classification plan for each Ranger District in the Region. It simply earmarked all of the tracts of land in other ownership inside the boundaries of the National Forest which should more properly have National Forest status. That was a big forward step. It immediately brought out and clarified between the Regional Forester, the Supervisor, and the Ranger, what lands we wanted to acquire.
Since we only have an exchange authority to work under, we also designated those lands which should more properly be released from National Forest status and go into other ownership. Then you removed a lot of the mysteries that existed. In other words, we identified the lands we wanted to acquire, and the lands we would be willing to trade off.
When I came back here, those old plans had very largely been thrown away, or tucked away back in some closet and were not current. The first thing I did was to revive those when I came back to the Region. They are the most useful tool that we have. I think we have almost every individual in the Region, in an administrative capacity, convinced today that these things are essential.
Now, we've had a population explosion in the Southwest here for quite a number of years. This brings all sorts of pressures on land. We have communities which are doubled and tripled and quadrupled in population in a short period of time. These were little tiny communities when the National Forests were established; they were just little, small islands of privately-owned land, surrounded by public National Forest lands. When they began to grow, suddenly they had to have room to expand, and all sorts of problems developed. They began to come to us for special use permits to occupy and develop and use the National Forests. Our land exchange procedures were so slow that we couldn't always move out of their way fast enough.
We began to have a two-way need. We were urgently in need of transferring public lands into private ownership around growing communities, to let them enjoy a well regulated, orderly growth; and we needed to acquire alienated lands inside the National Forests which were not developed. Many of those lands which were patented back in the early days were found not to be sufficiently productive to make a family a living. People moved off of them, and they reverted to a wild state.
Well, back through the years, when there was no inclination for people to go out there and occupy those lands again and use them for anything, it didn't make too much difference whether they were owned by the United States or not. But when we got this population explosion and this big demand for land, there's a move, and it's in full swing right now, to acquire those lands; to go out there and build summer homes, to subdivide them for summer resorts and summer recreation areas. They create tremendous impacts on us. They take away our wild land values, and our multiple values that are so important to the public in the National Forests.
For example, the Payson Ranger District on the Tonto has 47 subdivisions that have gone in, started all over the District. Had we been in there with a good, active land exchange program, we could have prevented a lot of that. We don't want to create the impression that we are against people living in a forest environment far from it. But we feel that existing islands should be permitted to grow and get as big as necessary to take care of the people, and the big expanses in between should be retained in a wild-lands condition in order to preserve the very things that cause people to want to live out there, and to preserve the production of timber.
When you have subdivisions going in all over the place, they take timber-producing lands out of that category and they create fire hazards. Get people scattered all through the woods, they burn up additional acreage; we lose timber every year that we shouldn't be losing. They destroy wildlife habitat that we talked about a while ago. They take away the usefulness of the land for domestic livestock grazing. They create a lot of other impacts that people don't always think about.
It's not just the tract of land that they occupy and develop themselves; they have to have roads coming in; they have to have power lines; and they want telephone lines. They have to have a dump for their garbage, and where do they want it? They want it out on the public lands; they don't want them on their own land.
Just stop and figure what 50 miles of highway, out through a nice, beautiful stand of timber does; it takes a lot of acres of timber-producing land out of production. These are the things we want to hold within reasonable limits of spacing them out and not just scattering them, helter-skelter, all over the country.
These are some of the things we are shooting at in land exchange. We're beginning to have our people in administrative positions recognize that these are some of the most important things that they have to do in order to redeem fully their responsibilities in managing the National Forests.
What jobs did you have that give you the most satisfaction, Gordon?
I always thought that the project sale job was the most interesting, and I think was most efficient. We had a trained timber crew that did nothing but handle timber. They got a better job done, and I think more efficiently, than today when it's under the District Rangers who seldom see the sale. The job of Forestry is assigned to temporary, green people; untrained people.
So you feel we are not getting the technical forestry job done?
Well, look at it over the years. Just go back and review what took place. There were very few technical foresters assigned to those project sales; they were there for just a short training period. Those sales were handled by practical foresters like myself, Lafe Kartchner, Carl Johnson, John Churches, Paul McCormack, Homer German, and of course, Norman Johnson. The scaling we used to think it took a year to make a proficient scaler. Now they take them over there for two days and turn him loose as an operator.
Well, that works to my advantage around this country. The operator sends for me to go check-scale the Forest Service scaling and check the marking. And there is plenty wrong. I'd say in the last four or five years I've found some of the marking atrocious. There's no rhyme or reason for their selection of trees to be cut.
Have the guidelines changed on marking?
Well, I think so. I don't think that they are clear-cut, and I don't blame these young lads. They're in a tight spot. They get a new Assistant, a Junior Forester, and turn him out there with a paint gun, and little or no training. They don't know trees. Some of them do a very good job. And some of them, as you can imagine, are doing an atrocious job. Now, recently, they've been doing some good work.
By and large, I've found they go to extremes. Either they don't mark enough I found one sale out here where they went back and marked twice as much as they did originally. Just doubled the marking. I made some marking analysis plots, you know, to see what they were doing. In other places, I found that they were probably marking 50 percent too much, marking all the growing stock. I'd point this out to some of the fellows, like Bob Diggs when he was Staffman, would actually go out and cancel trees. Of course, the company I was working for would be glad to get those trees, but I just figured I was still a Forester, and I didn't like to see it done that way because of what it did to the Forest. Well, that wears off after a while; you get tired of it.
Perhaps the guidelines aren't clear, you know? Do you recall Walter Thompson? He was in the Region for a while, in Timber Management. Walter Thompson made a study of growth based on Keen's classification of Ponderosa pine. The tabulation was in the Timber Management Handbook over 15 years ago. Along came Otto Lindh, who threw it out the window, and brought in his idea of marking "must" trees, et cetera, which was a little bit vague.
But this marking guide developed from Walter Thompson's study by classifying trees according to Keen into I, II, III, and IV, and into A, B, Cs, and Ds. We cut the trees; we measured the trees standing. The tree was cut, measured again on the ground, the age counted, and a composite made of those trees, which showed you the growth that you could expect in trees of the age and vigor classifications.
For example, like you found in the IV A, which is your yellow pine, would be putting on positive growth up to, say, 28 inches, DBH. And from then on, it's losing ground, defects and what have you a tree over 30 inches is lost. Then we come on down to III A, which shows positive growth away up into the 30s. From that study there was a marking guide developed.
First you show the tree classification. When you say a IV A, you know what you're talking about; III A, II A, III B, or whatever. So you can go out there with this classification and you have a composite picture made of those trees. You can take your card out and look at a tree, measure the diameter, and say, "Now, that's a III D, say, above 22 inches. It shows a negative growth, so we will mark that." We decide that if a tree was not putting on at least a half of one percent per year net, it wasn't worth saying.
The guide was made on that basis. And it worked out swell. Bud Allen and Pat Patterson, and I forget the others, were trained under that system. They bought it. I found it was the best training medium I ever experienced.
Do you feel it was a mistake when we gave up that system?
Yes. I had quite a round at one timber sale meeting. Jim Egan didn't want it. Dahl didn't want it, but I got Dahl to put it back in the book, and it is right back in the Timber Management Handbook today. I think it is about the best training guide and the best silviculture tool ever developed. For, after all, we are trying to grow timber and we're trying to leave the individual trees that are putting on positive growth. We can work out just about any diameter and age-vigor class you want from that table. If you want to increase the growth, say you want to increase it by at least one percent, one and a half percent, or two percent, you can provide it from that table.
What do you think of the big pulp sale?
We were looking forward to the day when we could cut pulpwood, or do something with the waste, rather than have a noncommercial thinning, which I never did think much of. Of course, the commercial paper companies don't want non-commercial timber. They want it big enough to use.
What concerns me is that they are also turning loose inexperienced people to mark the pulpwood. This takes quite a bit of thought. We are harvesting trees that are potential saw timber. There may be some excellent work being done in other places, but there they are marking saw timber stock. They're marking dominants now. Well, that isn't my idea of Forestry.
We're still on a saw-log economy in this Region. Whenever we get to the ground wood or something like that, it won't make any difference, I suppose. We are still trying to grow saw timber, with the exception of the pole rotation on the Prescott. I think the pulp industry has really helped us out. Otherwise, we'd probably have spent thousands of dollars hundreds of thousands in noncommercial thinnings. We did some of that during the CCC days. Boy, just like taking skin off your finger to see those beautiful trees cut down and wasted. We could wait there was no emergency, no immediate need to cut those trees. They could wait a generation, in my opinion. What's 25 years in the life of a pine tree?
Could you make any contrast between Timber Management when you started, and Timber Management when you left the Service?
Well, I think the fact that we are able to go back and make a second cut in some of the early cutover areas would prove we were on the right track then. We weren't trying to really practice Forestry then; we were just trying to recover the old growth get over it fast, and get the old yellow pine out.
Was the cut pretty heavy in the early days?
Well, the guarantee at McNary was 75 percent. Even after that, I recall making an analysis of the leave on that entire sale. It came out right at a 75 percent cut. There were over 2,000 feet per acre left, and good growing stock. That growing stock really went to town after release. They have been re-cutting in a number of places. I'm not sure whether they can re-cut and re-cut and take the heavy cuts they have been doing, and still stay in the saw timber business.
We prepare a Management Plan; for example, the Williams Working Circle here. The idea was a rehabilitation job because they had cut so heavy in the first place. The objective is to build up the growing stock to a certain volume per acre: first, by making light cuts. Well, now they think it is a pretty heavy cut; I think they're getting into the growing stock. How deep, I don't know, but I guess there'll still be timber here when I'm gone. Fortunately, blackjack Class I and Class II trees are putting on tremendous growth. Some of the growth in that study by Walter Thompson showed 15 percent: on your 12 inch, 13 inch, and 14 inch trees that's darned good growth.
Contrast the old railroad logging with the present-day logging using cats: is there more soil disturbance now?
That's for sure. The horse logging naturally did less damage than the machine logging. The horses couldn't tear up much country, but I'm not disturbed about the present machine logging. Not at all. I just can't think of any timber sale area where there has been any alarming soil movement. We were nuts over this soil erosion for a while.
I remember being on a field trip down on the Coconino some ten or twelve years ago. I think it was when a fellow by the name of Hoover was making a trip through this country. There must have been 35 or 40 in the party. We went out to a timber sale area on the South Coconino. Pretty heavy stand. Just rolling country. It was after heavy summer rains and here was a little short skid trail where the cat had come down; used the same skid trail for quite a while and it was about a foot and a half deep. Debris had run down into a little swale and stopped. That was it; no more erosion. There was enough trash in it to stop it. You'd have thought the world was coming to an end!
So I looked around and got the expression on the faces of the personnel. On the experienced timber people, almost to a man, the expression was, "So what?" Just superficial which I think it was, Then they came along with this rule: Cats mustn't go across openings; mustn't go across meadows; mustn't have a road crossing meadows. It was better to go in and tear up reproduction, which took centuries to establish, than to tear up some grass, which you can re-establish in one year. I don't go for that grass philosophy in saw timber. Very few of us do that have majored in Timber Management.
Grass economy well, it doesn't pay its way. If you were to make an analysis of the diaries of field men, Rangers time over the past 50 years, it would startle you to see how much time was wasted on Range Management. Wasted!
It used to irk me when I had to go mark timber for some Ranger because he had to go see the Bar X pasture somewhere. In other words, he wanted to get out of work and he did. It was a vacation on horseback. Sure, we must have range work, but I think it was given attention all out of proportion to its economic value.
You think that Range was emphasized too much?
It still is. We have been going to get on top of this range problem, but we have been getting on top of it ever since I can remember. Range is subject to a pressure group, a small minority. Do you remember the early ranger meetings?
How much time was devoted to the various subjects? They spent quite a bit of time on fires, then they hurriedly went over timber, so they could get to the range. The boys were told about Old Maude, the mare you used to ride, and the day you spent patching the pasture fence somewhere. I'd say two-thirds or three-fourths of the time was spent on Range Management conversation. They knew the answer, but they couldn't do anything about it just cut down on the number of livestock.
The real problem is establishing forest reproduction, not grass. I'm speaking mostly of the Ponderosa pine type, where the economy is timber and the range values are secondary incidental.
Gordon, what do you figure has been your outstanding achievement in the Forest Service?
Well, I don't think that any of it was outstanding. I just tried to do a good job in Timber Management and Fire Control.
You have had more satisfaction from that than anything else?
Well, naturally, because I was assigned to that during my entire career. I can look back at some of the cut-over areas with pride. You can drive through the North Kaibab where it's cut over; get on a high point where you can look over that beautiful Forest. I get a good deal of satisfaction out of seeing something like that. Well, I think I passed some of that to some of the younger Foresters. I hope I did, anyway.
* * * * * * * * *
From the Use Book - 1906. "The following trespasses are forbidden by specific acts of Congress and are punishable by fine and imprisonment:
"(1) Cutting, destroying, or removing timber or other forest products from land in a forest reserve without a permit, or without having a valid claim to the ground on which such timber or product grows, except the small quantities actually needed by transients while within forest reserves.
* * * * * * * * *
Gordon, do you have any ideas about our present Timber Management programs that could be improved?
I think we should encourage more technical Foresters to follow the Timber Management profession. Of course, in this Region, it's all Range. I've had young fellows working, Junior Foresters, who said, "Well, Hell, we want to get into Range Management so we can get somewhere." Well, that's wrong, in my opinion. Our major resource is timber. As a matter of fact, special use fees are about to catch up, or pass grazing fees. Put it on an economic basis.
What about Recreation?
I'll go for that. We spend a lot of money for Recreation; everybody benefits from that. You're not subsidizing anybody. You are subsidizing livestock people when you reseed, put in cattle guards, stock tanks, and juniper eradication; which did not buy us a danged thing. With millions of acres of good grazing land in the Middle West under soil bank and going to waste, why should you try to improve wild land in the West here, in this arid country? I just can't understand it.
I recall one funny incident. Watched a couple of log-cutters cut down this fair-sized yellow pine, and when it hit the ground, it burst open. It was hollow, and alive with bats! Bats fluttered around on the ground, and crawled around. One of the log-cutters went to another tree and started cutting, and all of a sudden noticed him peeling off his overall, shook them out one of the bats crawled up his pants leg. We yelled Wow, we thought that was great!
But about that time, one of them got up my pants leg, and I had to shake my own. They've got sharp claws. Oh, there were scores of 'em. The daylight blinded them and they were stunned, I suppose, from the fall, and they were trying to get back where it was dark, and pants legs were the nearest spot. A lot of funny things happen when you're out in the woods that way.
There was the time when Ed Groesbeck and I were scaling right-of-way logs on the Sitgreaves out of McNary. We had a little railroad speeder, you know. The railroad tracks they built in those days weren't fit to walk on, let alone run a locomotive over, or a speeder. We would scale a bunch, then start the speeder up and go up for the next batch.
We were goin' up this steep grade and we didn't make it. The speeder just didn't have enough power to do it. So we rolled back down and I says to Ed, "Shall I cock her back?" He said, "Yeah, cock 'er back; give 'er Hell." So I cocked her back, and goin' up this big hill, up this steep grade, we came to a cut and the expansion had pushed the rails down. The steel crew had done what you never should do, they had joints opposite instead of staggered, and it just made an angle bend in the track. I saw it, and I said, "Hold it, Ed, we're gonna jump the track! We're gonna leave it!"
I knew we couldn't get around that sharp turn and, sure enough, we left it. I turned a somersault over the top of the thing and I come up, kinda stunned, and when I came to, there was Ed in agony; he had broken his leg. I had a job getting the speeder back on the track, and Ed back on the speeder, and tying his leg up with my belt, my shoestrings, and lunch box strap and getting him on the running board of the speeder and takin' him down the country. Then we had the problem of running into a log train, moving empties out backwards. Kinda scary.
Well, we got down to the foot of the hill and we found a sedan there, I knew was with a survey crew a company crew running out railroad spurs. We located them and they took Ed in to the hospital, by car. He was laid up quite a while with that. We had quite some experiences on those railroad speeders. Got some scarred heads to show for it.
Once we pitched Bob Salton off head over heels. The gauge would vary so that the wheels would drop in so would the locomotives. I've seen five locomotives on the ground at one time. That was no way to log.
Another time we had a locomotive off. We were plowin' snow; we had a home-made snow plow. Speed was your criteria, you know; you had to get up speed to push the snow. I felt the ground kinda rough under me, and I looked at the engineer and said, "What happened?" He said, "We're off!" We had run out into the woods about 50 yards. The ground was so hard that the drivers didn't sink. We just jacked the damned thing up, built a track under it, and run it back on again. That took a couple of days, you know.
When did you get down here to Region 3?
I was up there at Raco and I decided, by golly, that a dumb old high school boy wasn't gonna have much luck competin' with college graduates, so I decided I'd go back to school, and I did. I registered at Colorado State.
Then my brother was a Ranger at that time and he decided he'd go to school. We went down and enrolled at Michigan State, and took leave without pay. I'd go to school in the wintertime and go back to work in the summertime. I entered school at Michigan State in the fall of 1926. In the spring of '28 the Raco District was vacant again. I went back up and took over the District for another six months. Then I went back and finished college and took the Ranger's exam, the Junior Forester examination, in I guess it was the spring of '29.
By golly, I got an offer of a job out in Fox Park, Wyoming, on the Medicine Bow Forest. Unfortunately, I'd 'jymped' myself up and was in the hospital at the time the doggone offer came along and the old Doc said I wouldn't be able to go back to work for about a month. I told 'em I sure wanted the job, but I couldn't get there for a month, but they said, "That's too long to wait." They had to give it to somebody else and I lost that one. And, by Jinks, I waited and I waited and I waited, and decided I wasn't gonna get a job, I guess, because the eligible list was about to run out. I had waited pert-near a year, and I got a letter finally from the Regional Forester down here in Region 3 offerin' me a job on the Tusayan. I said, "I'll be right there."
Before I got here, they changed their minds and put me on the Sitgreaves. I got off the train down there at Holbrook. It was about the first of January. When I got off the doggone train down there, I couldn't even see a tree. I thought, "What kind of doggone forests have we got down here?" Just desert, you know.
We finally got up to McNary, and started scalin'. The first assignment was learnin' how to scale pine logs, of course. I'd scaled pine before, Western Yellow pine, and the first guys I worked with, I remember, was Gordon Bade, Old John Vanderbeer, Crawford Riggs, and Bill Beveridge. Bill Beveridge, Crawford, and I, shortly after that, moved to the old Morris ranch, out north of McNary. They were cuttin' on that private land and I think we were scalin' it under co-op agreement. That was my first scalin'.
Hollis Palmer was scalin' at Pinedale at the old Standard operation. I went down there and relieved him while Old Hollis went off to get married. Everett Hamilton was in charge of the sale then. Old Dolph Slosser was Ranger there.
From there I attended one of the early training camps, that they used to have. You know, there weren't very many new guys comin' in and so they hadn't very many new guys to train, except just on the job. But Region 2 held a Ranger training camp down here in Region 3, up near Tres Piedras. I think I was the only one in Region 3 to attend that camp. But we went up and were there about a month.
Back down there to the south of the old Tres Piedras Ranger Station there was an old log building and a storeroom, or a building there of some kind, I don't know what the Sam Hill it was, but anyway, we lived in there. Old Pete Keplinger put on the school. He was Training Officer in Washington, I think, at that time. Anyway, I went, and when I got out of that I went back to McNary.
Right after that they had a Land Examination job up here on the old Ramon Vigjl grant, which is now Los Alamos. Willard Bond and I were to make a topographic map and timber cruise of that grant, about 30,000 acres. And we did. We had a lot of fun Old Jack Roak was on the Santa Fe then as Assistant. Frank Andrews was Supervisor. We used to have the doggondest time. Sundays we'd get out and look for arrowheads, get around those old ruins; there was a thousand old ruins around that place. Things were kinda different then, in those days.
I finally ended up after that job as District Ranger at Canjilon. I spent about four years up there on the Carson. Carroll Dwyre was Supervisor there then, and Hienie Merker was Assistant. That Canjilon District, it was not too big a District. There was just a road that went from Canjilon up to the old Station. That's where we lived, up in the old Station, and the road went on over there to Canjilon Camp, on El Rito Creek. Then there was another road that went across the divide down there at Lopez Canyon, and to the main highway.
There weren't many roads in that country. I think the first one year I was there I put in 85 days on horseback, and 45 of those days was pack outfit, which, you know, you just took off and stopped where night overtook you. It seems kinda strange on a District that small to put in that much time with a pack outfit, but that seemed to me to be the easiest way to do it then.
I had a piece of country along the north boundary it was winter range. Had a bunch of sheep that came in there for winter range. They came on the District I think, oh, the first of January or something like that, and stayed over till the first of March. I usually had to go down and count those rascals on, somewhere around New Year's.
One darn time I went down there we'd had a heck of a snowstorm, the snow was real crusted, melted after the snowstorm, then crusted hard on top, There was about a foot of snow, then this hard crust on top if it. I rode down there with Old Ginger; didn't take a pack outfit, I just thought, "I'll go down there and throw in with that herder." I had a little old blanket tied on my saddle. I thought, "I'll just sleep in this blanket, I'll git in under a rock or sumpin'."
I got down there and, Boy, it was really snowed up down there; there was no rocks or nuthin' else. The old herder had his sheep there all right. We counted the sheep but he didn't have nuthin' to eat; didn't have any horse feed. His old mule had died, and the caporal had gone out to git him something else. He had some old sheep backbones that he was boilin' up and that was about all he had to eat. Old Ginger, he didn't have a thing to eat that night, only a little bag of corn I had in the saddlebag. We slept out there that night and darned near froze to death.
I made another trip down there one time. I had gone there to count these sheep again, by the way. They weren't in there yet when I got there, so I thought, "Well, I'll just ride on up the canyon and see what things look like up the creek." So I went up there a ways and rode around to kinda look things out and see what stock there was in there.
Some cattle were in trespass from that old place over on the Santa Fe. I ran them back across the river, and came down to a little old flat there. I didn't have any tent or nuthin' but I did have my bedroll on my old packhorse. I picketed the old horses out there and hobbled 'em; actually, I picketed one of 'em for a while, 'cause I didn't want the boogers to run off. Down there at that time of the year, why they just weren't too much interested in staying' around.
Went to bed and it happened sometime during the night; it snowed, by Gosh, about a foot. I'd pulled the tarp up over my head. I rolled outa there in the morning and, Boy Howdy! Snow all over the place. Everything I had was plumb covered up.
My Gosh, I had my socks on and somehow I'd kicked around and one of them doggone socks had got loose from me someplace and I had a heck of a time findin' it finally found it out in the snow. Doggone! Got up there and the old horses were standin' kinda humped up. I gave them a bit of oats and went on down in the country and found the sheep and counted 'em in and went on back up home. Aw, you'd get into some funny deals.
How was the range situation then?
There at Canjilon the cattle and sheep were segregated, that is, they had this segregation fence. From the El Rito Divide, all that top of Mogote and the Canjilon Mountain was sheep, and below was cattle; and the Mesa de los Viejos was cattle. The only other sheep we had was that little bunch of winter grazing down there on the Chama.
As a matter of fact, when you got above that segregation fence the sheep range looked a lot better than the cattle range. Well, it normally would, because it's higher country, and sheep are pretty much weed eaters and the grass seemed to look better. Below the fence was kinda beat out.
All those people had cattle preferences. There was around a hundred permits on that little old District. I think only seven people on the District were English, Anglo people; the rest were entirely Mexican. I had a bunch of permits for two, five, or ten head.
The people, you know, did all their brandin' then with a Dutch oven lid, and you couldn't tell what the Sam Hill it was. The old man'd have a circle maybe. One son would take the same brand and he'd put a tail on one side. Another son, he'd put a tail on it on the other side; pretty soon they'd have some kind of darned hieroglyphics that nobody could read without takin' the blamed critter down and clippin' all his hair off. That was about the only way you could tell what the Sam Hill brand it was.
They'd be changin' 'round so darned much it was a Devil of a job to try to check whose stock was what. We picked up a few trespass cases. In fact, one spring there I had 15 little trespass cases. Well, we handled it I guess quite a bit different from what they would now. There was an old boy, he'd have four head maybe, and well, by Golly, we just figured what the grazing fees were for that period they were on there plus the amount of time it took to check up on that trespass, the Ranger's time. We came out with a little bill that might be $5.00 or it might be $50.00, depending on how big a case it was. Might be some of 'em'd have ten or twelve on there.
The biggest part of the bill was the Ranger's time checkin' up on 'em, the amount of grass they ate wasn't too much. But then we'd get the thing figured up and the Rangers then made out their own letters of transmittal, you know, out there on the District. We made our own LTs right there, figure the case, get it approved, make the LT, take it over to the old boy an' collect the doggone money an send it in. That's all there was to it.
So, Gosh Darn it, if a fellow'd do that now well, I don't think they'd let 'em do it that way now. I settled all them that spring; I had about 15 of those cases settled 'em all that way.
The worst one I had was old Jesus Maes up there. He was kind of a renegade old boy and, doggone, I had quite a time. He had the biggest case of the whole bunch. His fee was about $60.00 or $70.00 or something as I remember. He wasn't about to pay it if he could get out of it. I had a heck of a time talkin' him into payin'. But I got it, by Golly!
Gosh, the schemes that people will do are amusing sometimes. I remember one of the first little timber sales I had up there at Raco, Michigan. Sold this little chunk o' timber to a fellow by the name of Kasam, and well, he didn't have too much money. I'd marked the trees and I'd get a money order from him and let him cut so much of this volume. He'd cut them down, then he'd come in with some more money orders and that's the way I handled it.
But Old Kasam, he was a slick son-of-a-gun. I knew a durn sight better then to let him buy anything on credit because you just wouldn't get it, that's all. And of course that was against the rules anyway. Old Sam came over and he was broke. He wanted to get just a few trees. I said, "No, sir, Boy, when you get the money, I'll make this LT for the size you want, but by Golly, we'll have to have the money on the barrel head 'fore we can let you cut the timber." I think we made this letter of transmittal for $15.00 or something like that.
We went over to the post office and got the money order, and he had to mail it; put it in a letter to the Regional Fiscal Agent in Denver. Got the money order, put it with the LT I clipped the darn thing on there myself, handed it to him and he put it in the envelope, put the stamp on it and dropped it in the post office.
Well, technically, you know, you're supposed to wait till the LT got back, paid, before you let him cut, but it had to go plumb to Denver from Northern Michigan and it'd take a week for the doggone thing to get back there. So I thought I'd let the old boy cut that much, so I did. He cut the durned trees an' hauled 'em off. The darned LT didn't come back, you know the paid receipt, and finally I wrote a letter to the Fiscal Agent's office and asked him about this LT so-and-so mailed from Raco, Michigan, on so-and-so date and they'd never got it.
Well, you know that rascal, he'd gone back to the post office after I left, got the postmaster to give him that letter back. He got the letter of transmittal back out, and how the Dickens he got the money back on it, I don't know. The postmaster apparently didn't know what the score was and gave him his money back and cancelled the durned letter of transmittal. I had to collect it all over again! Son of-a-Gun! I thought I was gonna have to pay for that timber: $15.00 was quite a bit o' money in those days.
Well, where did you go from Canjilon?
Well, I was Ranger there until the fall of 1935, and then I had a lot of paper transfers about that time. While I was at Canjilon we built that new Station there that Station that's there now. I was right in the middle of that construction when they transferred me to El Rito, but I never did get there. You see, Flick Hodgens, they put Flick over there and he was supposed to be at Canjilon, I guess, and I was supposed to be at El Rito. They didn't want me to go until I had finished that durned Station, so we just kinda swapped Districts there. He was handling the Vallecitos District and I was finishin' up the Canjilon Station and gettin' things fixed up.
About that time they wanted to transfer me to the Elk Mountain District, over on the Gila. Then I had an offer, I believe, as Assistant Supervisor up on the Medicine Bow in Colorado someplace. I trucked with 'em all; I just worked here and was willing to go most any place. It didn't make much difference. Then, they decide No and I finally ended up as Timber Staffman on the Coconino.
That was another interesting thing. When I come to move, my official headquarters was El Rito, but I was still livin' at Canjilon and all my furniture and everything was there. I got my Letter of Authorization and the doggone thing was set up to move me from El Rito. I figured I was gonna have to haul my doggone furniture over there to El Rito myself before I could get goin' well, we got that figured out. Ed Ancona was in the office then and handled it, and I took off and ended up over on the Coke.
I was over there quite a while, about eight years, until, oh about the time the War broke out. I moved there in '35 and I think I left there in '43. I enjoyed livin' at Flagstaff. We had a lot of fun there, marked a lot of timber, sold quite a bit of timber.
When I went to the Coke our office was over there in the old C. B. Wilson building, that little stone block building just to the west of the courthouse. I think we had one, two, three, four little rooms in that building. That housed the Supervisor's office and the Eldon District Ranger and the Flagstaff Ranger; all of us were in there. The Supervisor and two Rangers were all headquartered in those four rooms. Gosh, I wonder how well, we didn't have so darned many papers to ride herd on then as we do now, but Cripes; you know, we had to have a fire dispatcher and he was back there in the back end. Florence Hill was the only clerk. She was the clerk; that was it.
* * * * * * * *
From the Use Book, 1908. "Boxes containing firefighting tools should be placed at convenient points throughout the Forest."
* * * * * * * *
How many sales did you have?
We were cuttin' quite a bit of timber. At the time I went there the AL&T [Arizona Lumber and Timber Company] was cuttin'. The old Southwest, you know they had the Rock Top and the Sawmill Springs units under contract, but they closed down at the first of the Depression. In 1927, I believe was about the last time they cut there and they were closed down for about ten years. They didn't open again until about 1937, after the Depression. They opened up again an' started cuttin' again out there at Sawmill Springs.
The old Flimflam Railroad [Flagstaff Lumber Manufacturing Company] was still in place there and they worked out a joint agreement with the AL&T to where they used one railroad instead of maintainin' two railroads runnin' parallel right down through the same darned country. The old Flimflam track, of course, they pulled out and junked while I was there, and actually it was the old Southwest Railroad that they operated. Then they extended the railroad from there on up into the Rock Top unit and down as far as Allen Lake, and that's where this thing still is.
Then you went to Williams as Timber Staff?
They hadn't started cutting on the North Side then?
They had a sale up there, but they hadn't ever done any cuttin' much on it.
I got back to Williams in the fall, October. Well, I got up there and it was just about the time Gordon Gray was Ranger at Big Springs. He was just in the process of movin' when I got there. I think I saw him once. I was in the station and he came up there one day and I think the following day a van came in and moved 'em out. Then we had no Ranger and we didn't have any Assistant Ranger there was nobody up there and they started cuttin' just about that time.
I had to administer the darn sale from Williams, and the Heck of it was they really did get to cuttin' pretty doggone strong. I'd drive up there and mark the timber, but first I had to find out where the doggone sale was. I just had to re-run the boundary and find the darned thing. I think that during November and December I marked and they cut two million feet on that darned sale. I was runnin' back and forth to Williams tryin' to keep track of that stuff.
Well, there was no place to live. The old Jacobs Lake Station was there but there was no water. The well had caved in, gone dry or something; there was no water. The only darn place to stay was over there at Jacob Lake Lodge. Well, those durned boogers closed down the first of November and there was no place to stay.
They had Old Devereau Bowman up there. He was kinda watchin' things. They did have a post office there, but all the cabins they closed up. The water pipes'd freeze up an everything. I'd stay there with Old Devereau and the darned booger didn't like to get up in the morning til about noon and then he didn't like to have supper til about 10 o'clock at night. I guess he went to bed sometime between then and noon.
The only way I could operate was to get me a whole hunk of bread, and in the morning that was all I had for breakfast; no coffee or nuthin'! I'd take out and mark timber til noon and then come in and get my breakfast and dinner combined with Old Devereau. Then I'd come in at night and the darned booger comin' supper time an' he liked a drink of wine. We'd have to drink about four bottles o' wine and by that time it'd be 10 o'clock, and we'd have a good supper.
Boy, he'd really cook up a good supper. But breakfast was a bad deal; I didn't get any breakfast at all. By Gosh, you know, when you're wadin' that darn snow out there all morning a fellow needs a little food to keep soul and body from gettin' too far apart. They were sure long mornings, I tell you.
Along early in the year sometime the Whitings had that sale and they decided to put a mill up there. When I went there the darned timber was goin' down to Old Glenn Johnson's mill there at Kanab. They built that mill there at Orderville.
Then we made another sale to the south that we called the East Fork unit, and then we worked out a cruise on the old Fracas unit in Fracas Canyon, in that area, and also the Big Saddle. We made a sale over on the Little Mountain. That was sold and they started in cuttin' in pretty good earnest and they finally built the mill down there at Fredonia and got pretty well set. The big sale unit was just ready to go about the time I left the Kaibab.
I left there and went to the Apache, oh, in December or so. But I had the cruise made and got the sale ready to go. They finally put it up the next year. That's the one they had all the fancy biddin' on. Sold at $44.10 a thousand, which was one Devil of a price to pay. When you stop to think that the whole Kaibab timber had been offered for sale somewhere around 1910 or '12 for a dollar a thousand, and then in that short time I guess that sale was made about 1950 at $44.10 a thousand. Nobody had ever paid a price like that for timber in Region 3.
You know, they thought that was kind of a screwy thing, but you know that Old Man E. I. Whiting was a pretty sharp rascal. His contract covered an estimated 168 million feet, as I remember it, of which 15 million feet had to be cut at the bid price, and with re-appraisals at three-year intervals. Well, I think the timber was advertised at around $7.00 a thousand, or something like that. That old man was pretty sharp, you know, he was biddin' for position and he wanted that sale.
It required that they build a mill, a good mill down there at Fredonia, and cut twenty million feet of timber per year. Anybody lookin' at that fifteen million feet at $44.10 a thousand, why, it was quite a jag of money, all right. But the old man was smart enough to know that when time for re-appraisal came along, why, the price wasn't gonna be that. It'd be back down.
That old man was actually thinking, I'm sure, "We're willing to buy timber at the price of the Forest Service appraisal plus so much a thousand over the total amount." He was paying a premium on that fifteen million. Now you take that money and distribute it over the whole 168 million, you know it'd only made $2.00 or $3.00 or so above the Forest Service appraised value. But, of course, he had to have a few bucks salted down to pay that first jibe. They had it, but you know, that was a pretty stiff poker game those rascals were playin' when they went in on that stuff.
The Whitings and Southwestern got to battling, you know, when Buck Elmore was vice-president in charge of operations there at McNary. He was kind of a rough-shod old boy. They got to squabbling with the Whitings over there on the Apache on some of those sales. A sale would come up for the Whitings, why, Old Buck would get over there and he'd run 'em up. He'd run 'em up to about $33.00 a thousand on one of those units.
Another sale on the Sitgreaves, down around Pinedale, he jumped in an' run 'em up there pretty high. At Cox Canyon unit, on the Gila, he run that up to $16.00 a thousand. Old Man Whiting was getting kind of irritable about it. Bucky failed to remember, by Gosh, that they were gonna have units of their own comin' up some day. One of these units come up on the Sitgreaves, I guess it was on the Heber District.
Old Bucky woke up with a heck of a start one day and remembered that he had a unit comin' up, and he thought, "I'd better go over and patch my fences with Old Man Whiting or he's really gonna make us pay for this timber." So he called up Art Whiting, old E. I.'s brother, and told him he realized they'd put over some pretty dirty deals but he'd kinda like to bury the hatchet. He knew that he was in a jam, had some of his own timber comin' up and he didn't want to have any more enmity if he could get out of it. He said, "I guess Old E. I.'s pretty mad at us yet, isn't he?"
Art said, "Yeah, he's kinda irritable. He was tellin' me a story the other day. He said he heard this unit of timber of yours was comin' up over there, and he was tellin' me this story about the old fellow that had three sons and a daughter. He says, of course the oldest son grew up and he got to chasin' around with a little girl over in the next holler. He got her into trouble and finally the old man, he says, 'Well, he'd fix it up,' and he paid off. The second son came along and he said, 'Dad, I've been runnin' around with this little girl and I guess we're kinda in trouble,' so the old man paid off for the second son. The third son come along and it was the same durned thing; he paid off for him. Finally, his daughter came home one night and she was in trouble. An' the old man says, 'Praise the Lord!', he says. "This is my inning, and how they're gonna pay!"
Did E. I. run it up on Southwest?
Well, sir, you know, it was a funny thing. Whitings had a deal with the Southwest that they would cut a couple of million feet off of the old PS3 Forks unit, a deal that was made years and years ago. Bucky Elmore was about to cancel that deal out and kick 'em off o' there. They needed the timber themselves, and they were about to terminate that thing. But someway or other, along about that time they had a change o' heart and Whitings kinda increased their cut there; they got four million feet a year instead of two, off of that Rock Top unit.
They run that Alpine mill and part of the Eager mill for quite a long time off of that extra timber they got off the Rock Top unit, off of the Southwest lumber mill sale. When the sale came up apparently they didn't bid on it at all. But it was kinda strange that they happened to get all this extra timber off of the PS3 Forks unit just about that time.
Bill Bond was fresh out in this country; right out of Yale. He was sort of an assistant or scaler on the old Halleck & Howard Lumber Company sale at Vallecitos. I was gone from the Station when a fire was picked up on Jarita Mesa and Bill was available, so Bill went up there. He got a horse and went to this fire.
There was a bunch of sheep tracks goin' through this fire. I got up there a little later and Bill had the fire stopped; it was about an acre. We picked up these sheep tracks and followed 'em off down country and found the sheep. We told the herder that he was gonna have to come in and settle for this fire. Then we went on down to the camp and talked to the owner, a fellow by the name of Pena.
We talked to Pena about bringin' him in late that evening. We told him if he'd bring this herder in to Vallecitos for trial before a JP, why, OK, we'd turn him over to him. He said he'd bring him in. So that evening I'd got hold of the JP in the meantime; he was a pompous individual, very eaten up with his own importance. The trial was over in Bill Dougherty's cabin.
The two of 'em showed up just before the JP got there and both of 'em had a bulge under their coats. So I shouldered one over against Bill's quarters and lifted his six-shooter an stuck it in my belt. Then I shouldered the other one over against the quarters where he couldn't get away an took that six-shooter away from him and stuck it in my belt. Then I went into Bill's quarters and stuck them under Bill's pillow, both of 'em.
Well, we went on with the trial. The only evidence we had was that the sheep had gone down this ridge right ahead of the fire and the fire had resulted. That was really all the evidence we had, and I could see that this JP was about to throw us out of his Court. I went in and got these two six-shooters and laid them down on the table right in front of him, both of them pointing at him, by the way, intentionally. He reached over and pushed one of them away, one way, and the other one the other way, and then we went on with the trial.
I just forgot about the fire. I got to raving about what a disgrace it was to his Court to have two men come into that Court armed the way they were. I had 'em both claim their six-shooters; I didn't give 'em to 'em, of course, but they both claimed their six-shooters. After I got through ravin' about what a disgrace it was, the JP reached over an' hit the table with his fist and said, "$25.00 and costs each." Now the owner of the sheep had no more to do with that fire than you did $25.00 and costs, each!
I remember a story you used to tell about bootleggers when you were Ranger down on the Mimbres.
Oh, well, I was just almost arrested down there.
The Game Department would bring in fish, the cans and everything, and then we'd take our pack outfit and pack 'em way up the river, the Mimbres. I packed ten or eleven mules, two cans to a mule, and took 'em up the Mimbres. On our way back down again well, it got dark on us up there, and on the way back down I didn't tie these cans on particularly tight. Here was a string of mules, 10, 11, or 12 of 'em, with loose cans, you know, and we were all joggin' along.
All at once a couple of fellows come out there an' arrested us for packin' "mule" white mule (whiskey). I looked 'em over a little bit and I asked 'em if they know who I was or what I had. "Well, I don't know, but you're under arrest for takin' white mule out of the mountains here." I said, "well, if you'll look at those cans you'll see all of 'em empty," I says. "Here this afternoon they did have fish in 'em," I said, "I packed fish up to the head of the river, an' I'm just gettin' home now with these blasted mules."
Boy, those Revenuers really thought they had made a haul that day.
Ed Groesbeck: Out south of Flagstaff, down there towards Wood Springs, you know, that place they call Bootlegger Hill; here's the way that darned thing got its name.
When they were cuttin' in there they piled this brush along the road. Well, it laid there most of the summer. That fall Old Bob Rinehart and his crew started out one day to burn brush and they came to this hill and were startin' to light these brush piles. They had just got started good when down the road came a car just hell-bent for election; it went out through this crew and around and got up about three or four piles ahead of 'em. A guy started out and run over to the pile and got him a jug and put it in the back of the car; he went on and stopped at every three or four piles down there and musta got four or five jugs out finally. They had their bootleg hid in those piles and Bob was gonna burn it up on 'em! So they called that durned place Bootlegger Hill after it.
I guess there were several stills located along the Rim there.
You know there were a lot of 'em. In Bar M Canyon, Harold Pilmer and I were there one time and we got off above Bar M Spring and there was an old fallen-down roof sort of thing. Boy, that musta been a big still. The old barrels were still settin' in there, about ten or twelve of 'em, and you could see where they had the old still set up.
Gosh, they must've manufactured quite a jag of whisky down there, a pretty good setup. Down in that canyon you couldn't see it. There's lots o' places you can find those old stills down there.
Lee Wang: Up in McKnight Canyon there was a still, a half or three-quarters of a mile above the old sawmill camp. I was coming up the canyon on horseback one morning. The Prohibition boys had been in there and wrecked the still. This musta been just the day before. They'd tipped over some of the barrels and some of them were standing, full of mash. The chipmunks were in there 50, 75 of 'em, I'd say; the drunkest things you ever saw in your life. They'd eaten that mash and they'd just almost fight you. It was good fightin' whiskey because those little Devils would stand up there, straight up, just lookin' at you, and cussin' you out, drunker'n all get-out.
Probably one of the most interesting people in the Magdalena District was Old Cole Railston. You'll read about him in "No Life for a Lady," and other books of this particular locality. I rode a week with Cole. He had an allotment out on the range there, East Berley, I believe it was, and he was extremely interesting.
We could get up at 3 o'clock in the morning and work like the deuce and make our breakfast right quick, and then ride until about 3 o'clock. We would come in and make biscuits and visit and play cooncan until midnight. Then we would sleep until 3 o'clock and get up and run like fools until about 3:00 and then eat hurriedly and play cooncan and visit.
Cole Railston in my opinion was probably one of the best managers of a range that I've ever been around. He knew range management from the word "go." He only had a third grade education, but he knew so much about grazing that it was interesting to ride with him, and he had a reason for everything. He and an old sheepman up north in the northern part of the country, I think he was in Region 2 are the two people that the Forest Service first visited when they made the grazing policy and regulations in the Forest Service. Our grazing policy today is exactly as Cole dictated it to the Forest Service except for two things. The distribution policy which he never agreed with, and the free-use policy which allowed the homesteaders to come in. It was made for the homesteaders and he had no use for the homesteaders.
A story that is well known is about the homesteader with his family and cattle and horses that came by the today it is called the Old Slash Ranch; it was the headquarters of the V-Cross-T in those days. He asked Cole where they could get a little water. Cole said, "You can fill your quart jar up at the well outside here, and then go on, but you aren't to stop on my range."
He paid his cowboys 50 cents a corner to run all over the country and pick up the section corners and turn them over. When the homesteaders came in and endeavored to locate a piece of land, which they had to do, and it had to be surveyed before they could homestead it, or they had to pay for the survey, they couldn't find any corners. Cole would always say, "Well, the country is not surveyed. You better go on about your business." So they didn't settle there.
This also happened with the Lyons-Campbell, the LRC outfit that was down here on the Gila River. They did the same thing as the homesteaders came in. They shoved them all through to Arizona and elsewhere. That's one reason there weren't many old ranches along the river on the New Mexico side. That's also the reason why the water of the Gila River all goes to Arizona. It was settled prior to the time that New Mexico was settled up along the rivers.
Our old-time stockmen pushed them out of this country and shoved them on down the Gila River into the desert around Safford and Coolidge and so forth. That's how all the water got to Arizona. They established use rights that way down on the river and these people here were responsible for pushing all those people there.
Cole had eight or ten of the top gunmen of the West riding his west line. You look at this country; you can see why the Gila Wilderness was well occupied in those days. In earlier days there were lots of people in there. The country was rough. Those people came in to homestead, or particularly to hide out from the Law. They were on the dodge, had done something somewhere, and came in to hide.
They endeavored to raise a few crops along the rivers, along the Middle Fork and the East Fork, and couldn't do it, so they naturally went to preying on the adjoining large stockmen. They started butchering the beef and jerking it and taking it to the miners at Mogollon and Georgetown and Santa Rita and everywhere else they could peddle the jerk-meat. The meat markets didn't have any refrigeration and there was no fresh meat, so they jerked it and sold it over the counter.
When I knew Cole, he was 78. Went to a dance one night in Magdalena, got to dancing with Mrs. Gibson, Arthur Gibson's wife, another Ranger there at Magdalena. They got to cutting up. Cole was so deaf he couldn't hear the music, so he would get behind somebody and follow them. Apparently he got behind some high-stepper, for suddenly down went Mrs. Gibson and Old Cole. He broke her finger and she kicked out two of his ribs.
Cole was a manager; he worked his cattle very carefully. He's responsible for Talbot's salting policy. Talbot came out from the Washington Office and to the V-Cross-T. Asked Cole how he was salting livestock and he said, "Why, away from the water, Mr. Talbot, away from water, of course. That's the only way to do it."
He was great for salting on feed, rather than away from water. He salted on water the two months of the year that he wanted the cows bred, and then the rest of the time he salted away from the water on feed, and he moved the salt where the feed was, quite continually. In fact, he carried a burlap sack to pick the salt up and pack it around with him as he went around on the range.
Talbot came there and asked Cole about salting on feed, and when Cole told him, why Mr. Talbot said, "Well now, Cole, you've got to prove it." So Talbot got on a horse and rode on a long ridge towards Magdalena. Here was salt scattered up and down the ridge for about six miles. No water on either side.
Talbot wasn't told how the salt got there originally. It seems there's this cowboy who took a wagonload of salt out to scatter along the range, and he was told where to put it. It was towards the end of the week and he was going to a dance in Magdalena, so he had his saddle hid under the tarp. He got out on the range and decided that he wouldn't go around the regular trail or wagon roads to scatter the salt, that he would cross the ridge.
You know how it was in the springtime. He brought the wagon out on top of this ridge and got bogged down and couldn't get it out. He unhooked the team and put the harnesses in under the tarp and sent one horse back to the ranch; just turned him loose and, of course, he went back to the ranch. He climbed aboard the other horse and rode to Magdalena for a big shindig on the town, and a dance and a drink.
Well, he came back to the ranch the following week and Old Cole was madder than a wet hen, and he said, "Well, where's the wagon and where did you put the salt?" He said, "I bogged the wagon down." So old Cole said, "You go on up the ridge and get the wagon out and scatter the salt up and down the ridge, and don't go any further."
Well, it was just about two weeks later that here came Talbot. Cole took him out and spent two days on that ridge with a big story telling Talbot just how to do it. But he actually did salt like that and he actually believed in it. Except at breeding time for the cows, and then he salted on water so that the bulls wouldn't have to walk too far to find the cows. He would always try to keep some waters closed up during the breeding time so that he could keep the cows pretty well gathered around for a couple of months, and the salt and bulls were kept on water.
Now, when you were riding with him and he found a cow that was bulling, he'd take off and spend the rest of the day hunting a bull and take her right to the bull. He wouldn't go drive the bull, because it was too hard on the bull to get up there. But he sure would drive that old cow up to the bull.
Another thing, he'd come along and the fence was down. Boy, he'd stop everything right then and there and patch it up. Even though he carried a little sack full of new staples, he'd hunt up the old staples. As he pointed out, that was what made money in the cow business instead of using something new all the time, instead of coming back with the work crew and fixing the fence you fixed it as you went by, you did everything as you saw it. When you needed more salt, you went and found a salt ground that had salt on it, and moved it, and tried to determine why the cows didn't come to that particular neck of the woods and use the salt.
That was the way to manage range and, of course, you had to ride everyday. You couldn't go to the bar and stand your foot up on the rail, so forth and soon. No, Cole knew, within a few cents, exactly what he paid for prunes, horseshoe nails, or horseshoes, by the months, by the year. He had a tremendous mind and was quite a stockman, in my opinion.
How big was the V-Cross-T?
The V-Cross-T ran from the Gila River to Apache Creek; was bordered on the west by the Negrito, on the south by the Gila River, on the east by the Rio Grande, and on the north by the mountain north of Red Lake. They watered also on the Alamesita Creek, which is north of the Red Lake Country and the St. Augustine Plains. They ran all through there. They had a light year when they branded 10,000 calves.
How many wagons did he run?
I don't recall how many wagons he had. I remember Old Bert Slinkerd, who was just a youngster when they killed the Apache Kid in the San Mateos. He and Mrs. Slinkerd drove the freight wagon from Magdalena to the Adobes, to the Slashes, to the Hubbell Y Ranch, and then back to Magdalena delivering supplies and the mail, and so forth. Mrs. Slinkerd packed a gun. She said she'd seen as high as six wagons working on the V-Cross-T.
I don't remember what Cole said as to the number of wagons he had, but he had a slug of them. I know he had those six gunmen, six or eight gunmen on that west line that were to keep those nesters in the wilderness area out of his outfit. They camped back in that Loco Mountain country and just worked around it. He had a horse camp down at the Old Dub Evans' place and kept a lot of their extra saddle horses down at Double Springs, which is the old horse camp. Kept them down there their extras and then they'd go down and get them as they needed for spring works, and so forth. That was their horse ranch.
Another thing in that Magdalena country were the Indians, the Navajo Indians out north. When they were taking the Navajos out of this country to either Oklahoma or Florida, in the early days, that little band had slipped off. The Chief and some squaws and a few other Indians started up in that Puertecito country and have lived there for many years. They were issued either the odd or even-numbered sections in which they lived. I don't know whether it was a whole section, but I know it was part of them. It was prior to the time that the State was admitted to the Union.
A Catholic priest, or a Father of some type or kind, was allowed to issue script on this land out there. I had heard about this but I didn't believe it. I met an old Indian one day that spoke some English, mostly Spanish. He was herding a few goats and sheep. I asked him if I could see the papers on his place and he said, "Yes" and smiled about it. We started towards his hogan and he didn't have a horse; he was afoot. He said, "Take your foot out of the stirrup on the near side of the horse," and he grabbed ahold of it, and then he said, "Well, you just jog right along," and he ran the three miles up hill and down dale, right to his hogan. He was an old, old man, and he wasn't hardly sweating when we got there.
He went into the hogan. The fire had been in the center, and just to one side of it, on the due north side; he scratched around, digging and finally brought up one of those little tin boxes you buy in the dime store. It was locked with a little two-bit key that he had around his neck and he opened it up. He brought this paper out, all written in Spanish, signed by Friar, or Father so-and-so, giving him this 160 acres. As I understood it, the Government honored all that script of those Indians having all that property, and that's how they originally got started.
Now, how in the world did this priest ...
Don't ask me; I forget the story of how he got started. I don't remember that. But I did see that paper, and it's all written in longhand, in beautiful hand, and all in Spanish. It gives this Indian his property; I think it was 160 acres, but it wasn't in acres. It was in whatever-it-was; and this property in this particular neck of the woods. It describes it and everything else and here sits this Indian on this property, and we honored it. It was my understanding that we honored that script that gave him that property.
Sam, Magdalena was your first District?
Yes, Magdalena was the first District that I was in charge of. Art Gibson had 419,000 acres, and I had 417,000 acres, and we had no help, no assistance, or anything. We would get a few ranchers around the country to go on the lookouts in the fire season, but we did all the rest of it and had lots of time to have a good time, too.
We would work together quite regularly. Old Gib would get a mess of signs and we would go out and put them all up and be done with it. Gib didn't like the timber business very well and since I was new at the grazing game in this country why he used to ride with me on grazing and I used to go help him with his timber. We worked very well together and I really learned quite a bit from Old Gib. He was mighty fine.
Did Cole tell you any stories about his running off the homesteaders?
Well, he did, but I've forgotten them. I do know that the story goes that Inman was the first homesteader to break in on the V-Cross-T Range. That place is now known as the Lon Cron Place on the East Fork of the Gila River. Inman was the first one to break it. Cole said that Inman was a gunman. He came out of the Oklahoma country and he got a little scared of Cole, so he brought an Indian with him who was also a gunman. Cole couldn't hire enough good gunmen to go down and put Inman out, so Inman broke it and was the first to homestead.
It was after that, that all the homesteaders came in and settled up and down the Corduroy Canyon and up and down the East Fork of the Gila River all over the country. Cole had kept them pretty well out until Inman started.
That's the story; now whether Inman was the first or not I'm not sure.
(Tucker Note: He was not.)
Another interesting thing is the catwalk out from Glenwood. There is a record in Socorro, written in longhand in the old record books. It was Socorro County at that time; it became Catron County in 1922. But anyway, they piped the water some three miles down Whitewater Canyon to the Competence Mill site, and in piping this water they laid an 18-inch pipeline. In order to maintain it and look after it, the miners got to walking the pipeline. They were the ones that called it the Catwalk, because of their walking this 18-inch pipeline. It was just suspended there in the canyon, so they got on it and climbed up it, walked on up it.
Well, they piped the water down, generated electricity and ran the machinery at the mill. At one time they had so many people around here, they called it the town of Graham. It was reported that the Supervisor's Office of the old Gila Reserve was located at the town of Graham for about six months, before it was moved to Silver City.
(Tucker note: This is true.)
The town flourished quite well and they shipped out many thousands of dollars worth of ore. Those were pretty important mines. Well, as time went on, they didn't get all the ore out of Mogollon, but they got down to where it was pretty hard and they slowed down a bit. The people that owned this property there in the old Graham town site quit using it about 1912, and they stopped entirely in 1914.
The CCCs, in the mid-thirties, built a wooden bridge, using a good deal of the hangers and materials that held the pipeline up, and called it the Catwalk. The bridge rotted out in recent years and has recently been replaced by a steel bridge, which was on the Sitgreaves. We went over and salvaged it and brought it back down here.
The Regional Office, with all their high-powered help and their distinguished engineers and architects, decided that they couldn't build a new bridge without first putting it on paper. So naturally they wasted a few dollars and six months trying to design a bridge that would fit on paper and could be erected. But they finally gave up in disgust and despair and threw all their papers and pencils out of the window and told Bob Leonard to go get his torch and a couple of helpers and put the bridge in. It was a good winter job and so old Bob and his helpers went up and put that bridge in; with just a torch and his own ability to make it fit there. It was an extremely fine job. For a great many years that steel bridge will be there and handle lots and lots of people.
It's an interesting thing. We estimate that we have between 30 and 35 thousand visitors to the Catwalk. We've only a few tables and can't put many because there's too many trees. Yet we have only one Ranger and one Assistant on the District. The Park Service at the Cliff Dwellings have the same number of visitors, but they are going to get five people to handle them entirely. They aren't going to administer anything else but those visitors and what they have at those ruins. We have two Rangers and they've got a lot of other work to do, some 300,000 acres or more to administer and handle the campground and the Catwalk, to boot.
Some of the earliest timber sales in the Region were made to the saw mills in the vicinity of Mogollon. I recall it's been about 55 years ago now that they sold some five or six million feet for $3.00 a thousand. That's what we're selling it for today, so we haven't progressed too much in our price for timber. A lot of timber was cut in Whitewater Creek, which is now within the Gila Wilderness Area, for the building of Mogollon, for the building of Alma, and for the farmers at Pleasanton. Possibly some of it may have been freighted on up to the Frisco country, that is, Reserve and Middle and Lower Frisco. They did do a lot of work there.
Tell me about Airplane Mesa and how it got its name.
Oh, yes, Airplane Mesa. In the early days when the Army was flying the mail across the United States in those old planes that went only a few miles an hour, the boys used to get awfully tired and would sit down anywhere and rest up. Well, they noticed the Middle Fork and those flat mesas above there and decided that, by Jove, they'd set down and do a little fishing. So they did.
General Chennault was one of the main ones flying the mail in the early days for the Army, and I don't know who else. No one is going to tell us, apparently. The boys dropped in there and would go down and catch some fish, come back up and load them on the airplane and take off. If anybody questioned them about the delay, they just said, "Bad weather." I suppose there wasn't any telephone or radio or anything so nobody knew whether there was bad weather or not. They were in the Middle Fork all the while fishing.
Well, one time, General Chennault was in there and started to take off and he cracked up this old ship with a Liberty engine. They later came back and took the serial number off the engine and burned it up. I think Bob Leonard was in there a few days after it crashed and saw the ship. He was GDA ["General District Assistant"] at Mogollon at the time, I believe. That was prior to '24, prior to the establishment of the Gila Wilderness Area.
There was an Army officer or a Naval officer in Albuquerque at Kirtland or Sandia Base who noticed the story and wanted to prove it either fictitious or true. He came down and I showed him how to get in there. He made some pictures and made quite a careful study of it, and verified where the ship was made and everything else and verified the date that it crashed. This was all written up, several years ago, in the New Mexico Magazine. He found out when Chennault had been in the United States and when the time was and when he was flying the mail, and verified the date that this crash took place.
Oh, there's another good story, about the bells. In the early days there was a young couple out at Deming who decided to spend their honeymoon fishing on the West Fork. They came up to the West Fork and the fishing wasn't too good so they took the zigzag trail that dropped off to the meadows, and fished the Middle Fork for a while. Coming back up the trail, a rain storm struck them and they got turned around and lost.
In wandering around there, they came upon some rocks and adobe ruins that might resemble a church. This fellow went over there and dug under what would have been the place for the alter, and I'll be darned if he didn't find two bells, both mounted in silver. Two sizes; a small one and a large one.
Well, they started packing them, but the large one got too heavy, so they buried it beside the zigzag trail. Apparently it was buried between the top of the hill and Big Bear Canyon, or even in Big Bear. Anyway, they carried the little bell out, and it was on display in a bank in Deming for many, many years. The bank burned down and the silver melted off, so it isn't in a good condition today, that is, there isn't too much silver on it.
That woman is now in her eighties, and she's kinda, well, you know as you grow older you don't remember too well. She can't remember exactly the description of the area where that bell is buried. They had always meant to go back and get it but they never got around to it. There is a silver mounted bell buried somewhere between the zigzag and the trail, dropping off to the meadows, and there's also a ruin up there that I would like to find, because there may be more. That's all they took time to do, was just to scratch around and they found it just under the surface, so maybe there's more.
Editor's Note: This kind of "scratch around" work would now be a violation of Federal law. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 provides stiff penalties for disturbance or removal of historic artifacts such as these bells.
Old Eli Stanbaw was a miner in North Fork Canyon in the Magdalenas. One day I was coming up the Canyon of the North Fork, on the north side of it, and I looked across and saw Old Eli on an old mine dump, picking up ore. When I got down to the pickup, I waited for him. Pretty soon, here he came down the trail, an old mining trail.
I said, "How are you, Eli?" "Oh, just fine, just fine."
I said, "Do you want a ride to town?" "Oh yes, yes."
So we got in, and in the course of the conversation he says, "Now I want you to see the ore that I'm picking up from my mine." He took a sack out; I'd seen him picking up, highgrading these dumps around the country. I said, "Yes, well, that's pretty good, Eli. What are you going to do?" He said, "I'm gonna take it in to Dr. Hagood to send off to assay. He's in this mine with me." And he said, "When he gets this assay back, he'll buy me another grubstake." He did that for years.
At Magdalena, he came in every month with a sack of this highgrade he picked up from all these little mine dumps, and old Doc Hagood would buy him another grubstake, and back he'd go to dig out that mine. And Hagood never found it out. I don't think he ever did.
Now, Old Coal-Oil Johnny, as I was telling you about, was out on I don't remember the name of the creek; anyway, Coal-Oil got his name because he got into a saloon in Magdalena and he got a little bit tight and here came some people hunting a place to mine. Coal-Oil had a quart-can full of coal oil, and he sold them that for $500. He said, "I've got a coal-oil well, and they gave me $500 for it." And that's how he got the name of "Coal-Oil" Johnny.
Another story they told at Magdalena: there was a couple of Eastern boys who had come out there looking for a place to mine. The bartender just stepped outside the door and pointed toward a little hill outside of Magdalena. He said, "Well, boys, you just go out there and dig; there's a lot of ore in that hill." So the boys immediately bought some supplies and went out it's a couple of miles from town and went to digging like fools. And, of course, all the people sat there and laughed at them. Be darned if they didn't strike silver and take $80,000 worth of dough out of there. Oh My Lord they never told anybody else where to go and mine!
You recall the story of Whiskey Creek, how it got its name? They were carting a wagonload of whiskey from Silver City to, everyone says, Fort Bayard. Well, they couldn't take any whisky on a military reservation. They were taking it to Central; Central City, as it was known in the early days. It was started just outside the reservation to sell whiskey and other oddities to the soldiers there. The wagonload of whiskey bogged down in what is called Arenas Valley and they couldn't get out, so they had to unload the whiskey and move it out. Ever since, they've called it Whiskey Creek.
The Army cut up all the timber from Fort Bayard. Then there was an Army officer there who was a little bit of a forester, so he inveigled the Department of Agriculture to establish a nursery to grow trees and replant the entire Fort Bayard Military Reservation with junipers from all over the world. Now, of course, we are pushing all the junipers out. But that's beside the point.
The Army cut all the wood out from the Military Reservation to fire up and keep the soldiers warm. You can go up there today, in those areas where they wagoned that wood off to the Fort, and see where the wagon wheels wore clear down and finally the hubs started working on the rock. Here's this place about, oh, about ten inches wide, quite deep; and then there's the hub mark, where those wagons kept working into this soft rock. It took many, many loads of wood to do that.
Sam, what was the opinion of the ranchers, like Old Cole Railston and Fred Martin, and those old tough boys what did they think of the Forest Service in those days?
Well, they didn't run against the Forest Service at all. They had a great deal of respect for the Forest Service. They had some people that they disliked, of course. Fred Martin told about Steve Garst coming out there and sitting there and not going out and riding. As Fred said, "During the '30s, or early '30s, I ran a thousand head of cattle here on this 400-head permit." Well, you can see; the evidence was there on the range, but he said, "You know, Steve never did find them."
Old Cole had a great deal of respect for the Forest Officers, the different Supervisors. He thought A. H. Douglas was one of the best. He thought Mr. Goddard was very fine. He felt that when Bert Goddard died, that Mrs. Goddard could just as well have been appointed Supervisor and would have run the show very well. In the early days, of course, they didn't bother the stockmen too much. They were trying to get the range settled. They were trying to get it fenced. They were trying to get it lined up and under permit and so they didn't worry too much with the stockmen.
I know in the late 'teens, about 1918 or '19, they trespassed the Burroughs's down in the San Mateos, and they killed a cow, or crippled a cow; I guess they crippled a cow and then killed her. The Burroughs's appealed to the Secretary and raised Cain. The file was an inch thick. But in our discussions with the Burrough's, they weren't particularly aggravated with the Forest Service. They felt everyone had done their job and was doing the best they could.
From his permit, Cole may have had trespass; I accused Cole of it, and he said he didn't have. I am satisfied that Cole had a little excess there at the time I was riding with him. You could count pretty well and, as Cole said, that was the way to do it; you could count pretty well.
Old Cole always said that any stockman who didn't know within ten percent of what he had, whether it was 200 head, or 20,000 head, was not a stockman. Anyone that pretended to be a stockman, was making a living at it, and he didn't know within ten percent of what he had, was just lying to you. He was lying to you if he said he didn't know, because they knew; they couldn't manage a lot of stock without knowing it. I don't know whether Cole moved anything or not.
My first Ranger District was at Carlsbad, the Guadalupe District of the Lincoln. We were located out there at Carson Seep Ranger Station. It was primarily a range district. Grama grass would actually grow and really mature there, and get enough growth so that the cattle could feed on it they had something to get into. It was a long growing season. However, they did have trouble with worms in the cattle; of course, you had to doctor for worms, right along. I spent that entire summer on the Guadalupes. I think I went there on May 1, 1935.
Ranger Pinson indicated his desire to transfer to a District of that type, so that caused my transfer to the Jicarilla Division of the Carson National Forest in November of 1935. Actually my tenure of office there at Carlsbad, at Carson Seep, was only six months, before I went to Jicarilla, where I spent four years at the Vaqueros Ranger Station, 22 miles southwest of Dulce.
That was a horseback District. Many a time I'd ride from Vaqueros into Dulce, pick up the mail and what little supplies I needed, and ride on back out to Vaqueros. Or, if I wanted to catch the train into Durango, I'd ride approximately 35 miles into Carracas Junction, flag a Rio Grande & Western train, and ride on into Durango. Of course I rode from Vaqueros down through the Gobernador, and on to Blanco and Farmington, and the Aztec area; that was some road. It's all paved in through there now.
You remember Bill Brainard; he and Vince Schroeder were project sales officers at the time, the 1935 to 1940 period there, you know, when we were cutting timber on the Jicarilla. We had project sales officers in charge of the timber sales. They were cutting roughly seven or eight million feet a year in there at Laguna Seca, and of course they were cutting also on the Indian Reservation at the same time. Vince was the first project sale man on the Jicarilla.
The Pound Brothers Lumber Company was operating in there. When they finished up at that time they moved over onto French Mesa on the Santa Fe. No trouble whatever; they were real good operators.
Of course that was primarily a grazing District, with lots of good hunting, lots of good Indian ruins up there, too, and lots of arroyos a lot of Class 3 erosion. Boy, it's terrific; rabbit brush and big gray sage. Actually, I enjoyed that District about as much as a fellow could ever enjoy a Ranger District. It was a pack outfit.
I remember Lock Feight and I made an inspection of the Jicarilla District. We spent about ten days or two weeks with a pack horse, going from Vaqueros, up across the Carracas Mesa, dropping off into the Rosa, then going south into the Laguna Seca country, and down into the Carrizo country, and on back. That was an old GII [General Integrated Inspection], so to speak.
In those times it was nothing for a Ranger to head out to a fire on Carracas Mesa, say from Vaqueros. I remember I was on Mestenas Mesa one time and looked up and saw a lightning fire, or I had assumed that it had been set by lightning. I had Fred Bixler with me and we headed for the Carracas Mesa. Well, when we got up there we found that this fire was roughly about, oh, from ten to fifteen acres.
We had gone by Vince's ranch there on the Cabresto, and told them to follow us in, but I got a little perturbed, maybe they wouldn't make it in time, so I sent Fred back to kind of hurry them along. I started to put out the fire. I put out 18 acres of fire that night without any help, not realizing that I could corral 18 acres in one night. But I did. By 3 o'clock in the morning I had it entirely lined. They came in before breakfast, and we were set. That's the way a fellow operated.
We used those Quintana boys over there at Dulce if we had any fires on the Carracas. They had authority to hire, buy the chuck, proceed up onto the Carracas Mesa, and suppress a fire. And of course, in the meantime, get word to the Ranger, and he'd go up there and help. Their system in their suppression work was that they paid the bills, paid off their fire fighters through time slips, and took care of it in that manner.
We had a good cooperative agreement with the Apaches. Kenneth Work was a big stockman; he actually controlled a great deal of the business enterprise in and around Dulce, which was the Indian Agency. He also ran stock on the Reservation and on the Cabresto unit of the Carson National Forest. He was a good friend of the Forest Service, as well as the Indian Reservation people. So there was a good working relation between the Apaches, the Jicarilla Apaches, and what few Forest Service people there were on the Jicarilla Division of the Carson.
I think it was in November 1935 that I went to the Jicarilla, and I went down to the Jewett District of the Apache, in November of 1939. So there was a four year period, right there on the Jicarilla District.
I bought my first horse up there in Colorado, on the Pine River. It was a big old roan; I paid $200 for him, and Russell Arnold rode him from Pine River down to Vaqueros for me after we had made the change. I took Russell up with me. He was kind of a GDA; he worked for us as a foreman, built the fence between the Reservation and the Forest. He was also a stockman on the Jicarilla.
There used to be wild horses. There weren't too many when I first went there, but there were some. In fact, one of my first horses that I got from Old Man Lynch was one of these broom-tails. I think we picked him up for around $50.00 or $75.00. There weren't too many left when we got in there, and they soon were pretty well thinned out. Of course, the District wasn't entirely fenced, and I imagine there was some going back and forth, on and off, of this wild bunch, from the Reservation onto the Forest, and vice versa. Old Jim Newton had been Ranger there, you remember, and Old Jim took care of the thinning process before any of us got there.
From the Jicarilla District, I accepted the Jewett District on the Apache. In November 1939 I took a short spin down there to look over the District, of course, and accepted it. At Jewett, you know, we had that big State sale. There were those State lands that we have now acquired. I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of a Township and a half. That was a big exchange. It was good timber-producing land. In fact, you remember Bill Brainard took over the initial cutting on those State lands, and they were terrific. That was in 1939, I believe. Then I think they kind of bogged down a little bit, and then they came back strong and continued cutting all the virgin timber on those State lands, both on the Luna District and on the Jewett.
Gordon Bade assumed the Timber and Fire job on the Apache about 1942. Gordon and I worked together cruising timber and we made a sale out there around Apache Creek. We made a sale to those people who had been cutting timber on State land. We cruised the timber, evaluated it, and sold it to these people. And then later there was the Charley Matthews outfit over on the Mangas. We made a sale on the northeast corner of Mangas Mountain. That was before I went into the Army.
Odie and I were married during my first year on the Jewett District, July 1, 1940. That's where we were married and that was a big event! Bob Stewart was there as Assistant Supervisor. It rained a good shower and he let us go and get married and expected us back the next day and ready to go to work. I think it was just about that much time. Anyway, we were back the next day.
It was in November of 1943 that we reported at Fort Bliss, both Leonard Pritchard (Ranger at Luna) and myself. We went up to Bend, Oregon, and Zane Smith joined us at this time. There was Zane Smith, Leonard, and myself, all in the same camp at Bend, Oregon. That was the Engineering Replacement Center. I was there until June. When they abandoned Camp Abbott at Bend, they moved the whole engineering training battalion on up to Fort Lewis, Washington.
We were transferred up there, and there I became a Training Officer, that is, Buck Sergeant training new people coming into the Service as Engineers. You know, we had a seventeen-week training for combat Engineers. That is where I contracted that sugar diabetes, and was discharged by the Adjutant General in 1944. Actually I was in the Service only about a year before I was discharged.
I came right back to the Jewett District and resumed my duties there. I think it was January 15, 1945 that I resumed my duties there at Jewett. I had left my furniture and everything right there. Bob Ewing had always been interested in me taking over the Alpine District. Larry Hamilton was transferred to the Penasco on the Carson, and I accepted the Alpine District. I did so gladly because it was a higher job, a bigger workload.
The Alpine was a good District, probably as fine a District as I ever had, both from the standpoint of multiple-use management and the big timber load that went with it. Of course, in those days, when you spoke of a work force on a Ranger District, there was the Ranger and his wife, and the GDA. The GDA's job was a six-months tenure of office. That's just about what it amounted to. You had one pickup for the whole outfit, and the Ranger's wife was the Dispatcher, actually. That's the truth.
The GDA on the District when I went there, he said he didn't think he'd last many more years; figured he'd quit the next year. Well, it so happened that when I was in Alpine this spring 1964 he's still working there at Alpine on the Apache. He said that he would quit this spring.
The Alpine was my last District. I spent five years a little over five years from August of 1945 until we came to Springerville in December of 1950. Frank Casanova took over the Alpine District.
I took over Ed Groesbeck's position as Fire Staff and Timber Staff there on the Forest. I purchased the house that he had previously owned and, of course, he had purchased the house from Gordon Bade, who had the same job prior to that. Then I stayed there in Springerville and served under Bob Ewing until he retired in early 1952. Then John Baird replaced Bob Ewing, I would say, about March of 1952.
There was an interim in January, February, and March there when I had to serve as Acting Supervisor, until Johnny came down from I think it was the Rio Grande, out of Monte Vista, Colorado. I spent five years there as Fire and Timber Staff, and I had lots of experiences.
Then Ed Groesbeck indicated that he would like to have me assist him with the paper work on TSI there in Albuquerque, as kind of an Assistant to the Logging Engineer. So I went in, I think it was October of 1955, and I stayed with Ed until June 14, 1958. It was rather strange I used to ride to work with Ed Groesbeck, Dahl Kirkpatrick, and Fred Kennedy, in a motor pool. Riding in one morning along with Fred, I said, "Fred, it's a funny thing but I can't like this paper work. I prefer working in timber, and I just can't reconcile myself to living in the style that I do. Here I am in the city and so far from this timber business.
It wasn't very many months after that I realized that I had an opportunity to transfer to the Kaibab after Gordon Bade made it known that he would like to retire in the spring of 1958. So I got to replace Gordon, which was a bad break, in a way. In another way, it was good to get back on a Forest again, to resume Fire Staff and Timber.
* * * * * * * * * *
From the National Forest Manual - 1926. "The establishment of relatively small manufacturing plants of an efficient type should be encouraged rather than large plants wherever the conditions permit the former.
* * * * * * * * * *
Which did you find more satisfying, being a District Forest Ranger, or on Staff?
Well, I don't believe you can compare them.
Actually, a Ranger is a little "king;" he's a little Supervisor on his District. A Staff man works right under the Forest Supervisor, and is responsible to him. I think both positions should be held in high regard by anybody who holds them.
It just worked out that way: if you're a Ranger, why, you're the boss. You have a little more latitude about things. You're a line officer. It's more pleasing, I believe, to be a Ranger, but then again there is a general satisfaction in being a Staff Officer. He, too, feels pretty much the same as a District Ranger does in his position, after he really gets his feet on the ground.
You take a Fire Staff Officer that reminds me of that summer of 1956 when we were working out of the RO, you remember, when we had the Dudley fire. Then after we got the Dudley fire controlled it was about 7,000 acres we looked across to Mingas Mountain, and there she was blowing right on Mingas Mountain.
They just put the whole shootin' match into a DC-3 and took 'em right on up into Prescott. They took the same organization right off the Dudley fire and put 'em on the Mingas fire. That was 15,000 acres, and we nailed that one. We got home in time for a 4th of July rest, then went right on back to Safford on the Outlaw fire.
It is remarkable the way Forest Service crews can adapt themselves to a situation: to different Forests and differ ent terrain, and different organizations, so to speak. They just click.
Of course you've got the old Indian crews and, Boy, those crews are fine. I don't know what we would do without them, how we would get the job done without those Indian crews, whether it's Hopi Number 8, or Zuni Number 3, or Santa Domingo Number 2, Zia Number 1, or the Taos Pueblo.
Now we have the slurry planes. Boy, those slurry planes are good. We've used them here. We used them on the Hell's Canyon fire down here last year. We had a 500-acre fire right down here south of Bill Williams. It could have been one of the largest in the history of the Forest Service if it had come across Bill Williams, but we nailed it.
Oh, we've cut down on the burned acreage tremendously, but the cost has gone up. These slurry planes alone amount to quite a bit of money. The amount of slurry put on the fire is a very insignificant cost. It's the cost of transporting the slurry to the fire, dropping it, and then going back for another load that costs the money.
We had pretty fast service over here at Saddle Mountain. That was in 1960 and it started on the Grand Canyon National Park. It started on the Park, just a short distance I don't think it could have been over half a mile inside the Park boundary. We reported it to the Park Service and they spotted it and were in there trying to get it at the time our plane observed it. It was on the 21st of June that the fire occurred in there, and it was about 10 o'clock on the 22nd before they got it.
It had got around two acres, I think, when they started work on it, and it blew up, right as they hit it. Boy! It was never headed from then on; it must've covered 4,000 acres inside of four hours, a burning period from, say, about 12 noon, right on through until 4:00 or 5:00 that afternoon, it must've covered in the neighborhood of 5,000 acres. It burned almost to South Canyon. In its path it crossed several canyons, and it stopped just this side of South Canyon before we halted it.
We must've had in the neighborhood, right at a thousand men. Let me think; we had two big divisions, one down in South Canyon, and one up there just on the road going into Saddle Mountain, roughly about five miles on the VT road going into Saddle Mountain. But she was a rough deal, rough country.
If you remember the Escudilla fire, we logged 44 million feet off of it, on roughly 19,500 acres. On this one, the grand total of acreage was 8,660 and we must have logged in the neighborhood of 7,600,000 feet, but there was a lot of timber that was never salvaged because of its great inaccessibility, and the inoperability of the area.
Your Staff career, then, has been mostly Timber and Fire?
Principally, but my first three Districts, the Guadalupe on the Lincoln, the Jicarilla on the Carson, and the Jewett on the Apache they were primarily grazing Districts. I really had to get out with the grazing men we served. While we did have a timber load on the Jewett, it was primarily due to State timber sales; that is, the harvesting of timber on those State lands.
How do you contrast our present system of management with those old timber sales?
Well, actually, it seems to me the cutting was heavy. We've got to admit that in the Saginaw sale on Bill Williams, back in the early 1920s, their harvest was heavy. In fact there has been a drouth period of good timber sale activity since the Saginaw pulled out of here in 1941. But now, we are just coming to the point, with what virgin and what intermediate strip was left from the old Saginaw, and the growth that is being put on the younger stock, we are really getting into a period of growth and a sustained yield that will realize a real good cut.
As I see it, it will improve. That is, we can expect an increase in our net sustained yield cut from year to year, particularly with our pulpwood operations; thinning that stand before it gets stagnated. You see we've cut in the neighborhood of twenty million feet of pulpwood since they started here in April of 1962, better than twenty million feet of pulpwood. That is in the neighborhood, roughly of 10,000 acres that we have covered to get that volume. Well, naturally, the material that is left these trees that are left are going to put on growth immeasurably faster than anything else we have got that hasn't been thinned through pulping operations.
Are you satisfied with the marking you are getting on the pulp thinning?
Yes, I am. Of course, we had every advantage here to get good marking. Our people there at the college keep right after us. Our Research people interested themselves in just exactly the way we were taking care of the stand.
If you remember, the stand that came in from this 1918 seed crop and the '37 seed crop, they were rough trees, a lot of them. In other words, there was so much of this material that needed cutting. It would never make a log; never make a saw-log; they were apple trees. It was surprising, the utilization that was made due to the harvesting of pulpwood. Actually, knots do not in any way influence the utilization of these pulp stands. Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, we would have said, "Well, what are we gonna do, poison this stuff? In order to grow saw-logs we are going to have to personally go out and destroy this stuff." Now here we are not only utilizing it, but we are getting paid for it. It is amazing.
From that big seed crop of 1918 we had too many stems on the ground. We just couldn't grow that much stuff on the ground. It wouldn't support it. In other words, we are starting to realize Forestry.
You and I started when it was pretty much a custodial job.
Yes. Actually that's all it was, too, for many years, right up into the Fifties before it actually became a Resource Management job a multiple-use job.
Now, looking back, do you feel a need for any policy changes, technique, or any change in our objectives?
Well, actually, I think we've already made those changes in our objectives, from the custodial into this Resource Management, or Multiple-Use Management that we are using now. I think we've already done it, unconsciously probably in many aspects, but certainly I think the leaders in Forestry have recognized this all the way through, and have taken steps to take care of it.
You think we are meeting our objectives in conservation?
Yes, I really and truly do. There may be isolated instances, on this range allotment, or that range allotment, or in this timber sale area; we may have slipped temporarily, but in general, all over the Region, we've met the objectives.
You got a Forestry degree?
Yes, I received my BS degree in lumber marketing in June of '33, from Iowa State.
How did you get out here to Region 3?
Well, at that time the CCC camps were just beginning to start and, as a matter of fact, I was only one of two in my graduating class that were still at Ames for graduation to receive our diplomas. The rest of the class had already gone to CC Camps all over the country and were not there for graduation. I left the night I graduated for Santa Fe to be part of a CC Camp out of Santa Fe. Why I selected Santa Fe, no one knows, not even I, except that I'd never been to the Southwest. At that time offers were coming in almost daily for Foresters, and it was just a question of selecting what part of the country we might want to go to.
I arrived in Santa Fe about the middle of June 1933, and at the same time a Forester from Oregon arrived to be in the same camp that I was. The Supervisor, Frank Andrews, was so busy getting CC Camps established on the Forest that he was not available for the first two weeks that we were in Santa Fe. Each morning we would go to the office, and receive word that the Supervisor was still out, and that we would not be assigned to a camp until he returned. So for two weeks this other man and I spent our days reporting to the office and finding out that the Supervisor would not be back, and then just waiting until such time as he did show up.
After about two weeks, Mr. Andrews finally came back into town and called the two of us in and told us that we would each be assigned to different camps. He assigned each of us to a camp by flipping a coin. The camp that I was assigned to was the one at Hyde Park, which is about ten or fifteen miles out of Santa Fe. This was a tent camp and was composed mostly of boys from Southern Texas. The majority of them at that time were from Corpus Christi. We spent all of that summer at the Hyde Park Camp doing mostly erosion control work in the Hyde Park area, with a small side camp in Santa Fe Canyon doing some erosion control work there, as well as some timber stand improvement work.
Then, in September of '33, I was assigned to a six-week detail marking mine props in the head of Cow Creek, on what is now the Pecos District. I believe this is now the Lower Pecos. I spent until the middle of October marking mine props. It so happened that particular fall that the rainy season was pretty bad, and every afternoon at about, oh between 2:00 and 3 o'clock, it would start to rain and rain the rest of the day. The only way I could get a day's work in was to be out on the job by about 6 o'clock in the morning, to get my day's work in by 2:00 or 2:30 in the afternoon.
When I finished that job I was assigned to timber stand improvement work out of Pine Springs on the old Espanola District. This started about the middle of October and ran until the end of November.
During that time they were constructing a new CC camp on the edge of Santa Fe to replace the one at Hyde Park. This was a permanent camp with wooden barracks and all the necessary facilities. There was also a Park Service Camp on the same site and the two camps were operated jointly.
In this camp we spent most of our time doing rodent control work on old Fort Marcy, and some work out at Sun Mount, which was at that time a tuberculosis sanitarium.
Then, in the spring of '34, I received a temporary appointment on the Pecos District as Assistant under J. W. Johnson, who had been the Ranger there for many years. My first summer consisted entirely of scaling timber at Indian Creek for the mill that was cutting for the American Metals Company. The following spring, 1935, I received my permanent appointment as Assistant Ranger at Pecos.
At that time both Districts were operated as one District. The work was divided between Ranger Johnson and myself, with me being assigned to Recreation and Timber Sales operations, and Johnson taking Fire and Range. However, Johnson did give me an opportunity to get considerable training in both Range and Fire. And, since he was the Senior Ranger, he was responsible for the overall work of the District.
We had some amusing and some unfortunate experiences while we were at Pecos. When we moved into the house we were to occupy, I found that it was about ready to fall down. As a matter of fact, the walls along the dining room on the south side of the house had fallen away from the ceiling so that there was about a three-inch gap between the ceiling and the wall. Our first job was to correct this problem. We found that the roof joists in the attic had not been tied to the walls at all and the weight of the roof was pushing the walls out. We went in with a jack from the basement and jacked the roof up, pulled the walls back in, and tied them together.
The next problem was the well. There was an old windmill at the corner of the old office that supplied water to the Ranger Station. We found that the water was so polluted with gasoline that my predecessor had been able to bail water out of the well and actually burn it in the trucks. I can remember during that first winter we had a little tin stove in the office and the way I started fires in the morning was to bail a bucket of water out of the well and throw it into the stove and toss a match in! And it burned real well. There was quite a little excitement around Pecos as a result of this.
We had a number of geologists examining not only the well but the surrounding country, and the final decision was that there was a pocket of gas that had drained from some distant source into the area, and that this was what we had tapped. Well, this of course made the water completely unusable. On a hunch I sent a sample of the water in to the University for analysis and they found that there was not only gasoline in the water, but there was also Bacillus coli in sufficient quantities to be very dangerous.
When the Supervisor received the analysis on this, he was out at Pecos the next day locating a new well. A new well was drilled. We hit the same strata of gas at about the same depth as in the old well, but this was cased off and the driller went on down several hundred feet further, and did bring in a very excellent well, which is still being used.
Another rather amusing and, at the time, uncomfortable experience for me was the first pack trip that I was sent on, up into the Pecos Wilderness country. Ranger Johnson told me to meet the cattle permittees that were coming in the middle of June, and count the cattle. I had never in my life been on a pack trip by myself. The only packing experience I had had was in Montana where we used the Decker saddle and hitch. But in the Southwest these had not been heard of and they used either pack boxes or panniers. Well, I had no idea how to throw a diamond hitch or to put a pack on a horse, and Johnson did not show me, so the result was I started out with two full panniers and a pack cover fastened over it after a fashion.
I got up on top of Bordo del Medio that afternoon, into the worst hailstorm I think I've ever experienced. I didn't have any chaps; I had a short raincoat that hit me about my waist on a horse. I rode for about two hours through this hail storm. I got into a ranch on the Las Vegas side that evening. My pack was full of hail; I was so frozen I couldn't even unbutton my raincoat. It took me about half the night to get thawed out.
I did get some help from some of the local people to show me how to pack, and the next day when I started out I did have a passable pack on my horse. From then on I learned how to throw a diamond hitch and how to put a pack on a horse that would stay.
While I was at Pecos, one of our major problems was the stealing of fence posts on Glorieta Mesa. I well remember that both Ranger Johnson and I spent many nights trying to catch post stealers on the Mesa, and spent an awful lot of our time at Rowe, at the Gross-Kelly store, checking posts that were brought into the yard there, and matching butt cuts on the posts with pieces of stump that we brought in, to see if any of the stolen posts were there. We picked up many hundreds of posts that had been brought in and sold to Gross-Kelly.
Mr. Kramer, who operated the store at that time, had a record of the people who had brought in the posts, so it was pretty simple then to determine who the guilty people were. Our only recourse was to take them before a Justice of the Peace, and have them fined for violating a State law.
In the fall of '36, I was assigned to the Triple A [Editor: probably refers to the Agricultural Adjustment Act] program that was just starting, and had the job of examining ranches in the Las Vegas area for Triple A benefits. We worked on this program during the fall of '36 until Christmas time, at which time the program was finished for the year. In the spring of '37, I was detailed again to the Triple A program and was assigned seven central northern counties, and had three examiners working under me, examining ranches in all of those seven north central counties. I worked on this program during all of 1937, with my headquarters still at Pecos.
In March of '39 I was assigned to the Coyote District as Ranger and this, of course, was my first assignment as a full-fledged District Ranger.
While at Coyote, we had a CC camp just below the Ranger Station that was there until World War II was declared in December of 1941. The Coyote Ranger District at that time included much of what is now the Cuba District, since it took in all of the country north of Regina, which included the Mud Springs, Luna Seca, and Dead Man areas, which are now assigned to Cuba. At that time my staffing amounted to a GDA [General District Assistant], two lookouts during the summer, and a three-man trail crew.
In 1940 I got my first professional Assistant, and from then on until I moved out in 1944, I had four different Assistants. There was no housing at Coyote for anybody but the Ranger, and the only place that we could find for the assistant was at Gallina, some 18 or 20 miles west of Coyote. The housing there was not good, but the man who owned the main store at Gallina did have a small apartment that he made available for the assistant ranger.
The ranger's house at Coyote was rather primitive. When we moved there, there was no electricity. We used gasoline lanterns and later Aladdin's lamps, for light, and a kerosene operated Servell refrigerator for refrigeration. There was no plaster on the interior walls of the house, just mud, but the year after arrival I was able to get the CC crews to replaster the house. The Supervisor made enough money available to add a porch, or rather convert the attached garage into an enclosed porch and service room. However, up until the time we'd left Coyote there was still no electricity. As I recall, the Ranger Station was without electricity until the REA [the Rural Electrification Administration] constructed a line into Coyote several years later.
The major job on the Coyote District at that time was grazing. The timber sale work was handled by a project man out of the Supervisor's Office, and the big sale was up just north of Dead Man Lookout. However, I had nothing to do with the sale since it was a project operation out of the Supervisor's office.
At the time I moved to Coyote there were no grazing plans that had ever been made on the District. The livestock associations were inactive and practically no range management had been practiced at all. While I was there, one of the first, if not the first, Ranger District Grazing Management Plan in the Region, was made on the District. P. V. Woodhead, at that time Chief of Range Management, spent several weeks on the District assisting in the preparation of the Plan.
During the five years I was at Coyote, I was able to revive the five livestock associations, and was able to get them interested in buying registered bulls to improve their herds and increase their calf crops. As I recall, before registered bulls were purchased, the percentage of calf crop was running about 40 to 50 percent. The year after the bulls were purchased, this jumped almost to 90 percent. Up until the time I left Coyote, all of the associations were still maintaining their registered bulls and were replacing them at the necessary intervals.
One of our major problems at Coyote was the distance we had to travel to do our shopping. There was one small store in Coyote; the selection was quite limited and about all we could get were canned goods and a few staples. We made a trip every two weeks to Santa Fe for all of our supplies. During the summer, of course with fire season, I was not able to go with my wife when she went on her two week shopping tour, so she had to go by herself.
It was quite a sight to see her come into the Ranger Station with two youngsters in the car, two weeks' supply of groceries, 200 pounds of chicken feed, ten gallons of kerosene for the refrigerator, and five or ten gallons of white gas for the lanterns, which at that time we were using. The car was so loaded down it would hardly clear the wheels.
During the spring, since the road at that time was not paved, it was almost impossible to get from Coyote to Abiquiu. The only way we could get out to do our shopping was to leave Coyote about 4 o'clock in the morning, before it started to thaw, and then stay in Santa Fe until after midnight when it started to freeze and we could get over that 15 miles of mud. But we worked it out. Of course, after World War II started, with gas rationing, we were not able to go in every two weeks; we had to stretch our trips to once a month. This really meant loading the car down, to bring in a month's supply of groceries in a sedan. We were able to keep going and, looking back on it, it was a pretty worthwhile experience.
In March of '44 I was moved to the Long Valley District on the Coconino, and of course at that time we did not use commercial truck lines to move. Two Forest Service stake trucks moved all of our belongings from Coyote to Long Valley. The house for the Ranger on the Long Valley District was located at Clear Creek about eight miles south of Camp Verde. When we moved in we found that the house had been allowed to deteriorate pretty badly. It had been used for a period of time by a crew batching and, as was to be expected, it was in pretty bad shape.
One of my first jobs was to enclose the back porch and construct a new front porch on the house, and then put new oak floors in the living room and front bedroom. Incidentally, I understand that about three years after I had laid these floors, the termites had eaten the floors to a point that when the Ranger's wife was vacuuming one day, the vacuum cleaner fell right through the floor. We found later, of course, that the entire house was just completely eaten up with termites.
During the time I was at Long Valley we had a winter and a summer station, The winter station was at Clear Creek, and the summer station at Long Valley. This meant that we moved twice a year, once in the spring from Clear Creek to Long Valley, and then once in the fail back to Clear Creek.
Since World War II was on at this time, we were not able to get qualified adult workers, so we hired a crew of 30 sixteen-year-olds for summer work and fire crews. Incidentally, Ray Housley was one of the men on this 30 man crew that I had at Long Valley, and at that time he developed his interest in Forestry and has stayed with it ever since.
One incident that happened with this crew, that at the time wasn't funny at all but, looking back, was rather amusing. One evening the cook for the camp came running up to the Ranger Station scared to death and said that the boys were trying to burn the camp up. I went down to the camp immediately and found that a group of the boys had gotten into the store room and taken all of the rolls of toilet paper, soaked them in kerosene, and were lighting them and throwing them all over camp. Of course, as they threw them, they'd unroll and there would be just streams of fire going in every direction.
It was, as I recall, in late June when this happened. The camp was in a thicket of pine, and why the whole country didn't burn up I'll never know. But luckily there was no serious fires except, I believe, one camp did burn up. Needless to say, the ringleaders of that particular episode were without a job the next morning and on their way home.
I will say that Ray Housley had nothing to do with this particular incident.
During the winter of 1944 the Supervisor and I disagreed rather substantially, and as a result I was moved to the Capitan District on the Lincoln in the spring of 1945. Earl Moore was Supervisor of the Lincoln, and I will say that he was one of the finest Supervisors I ever had the privilege of working under. The Ranger Station at Capitan that we occupied was by far the best facilities that we had ever lived in up to then. It was the show place of the Lincoln, and one of the show places of the Region. However, before we left, the house showed evidence of falling apart and, as I understand it, has been falling apart ever since.
I well remember that when we left the Long Valley District we had about 26 nice laying hens, and since every Station we had ever occupied had a place for chickens, I brought the chickens to Capitan. When I got there, the Supervisor informed me that chickens were not allowed and that I'd have to get rid of them. We kept them in the woodshed for a few weeks, and during that time we killed chickens and ate them just about as fast as we could. Finally, by eating what we could, and canning a few, we were able to get rid of all of our chickens.
We were not allowed to keep a horse at the Ranger Station, so our only alternative was to rent corral space downtown and keep the horse down there. We had no pasture, and just kept him in this small corral when he was not being used on the District.
While I was at Capitan I had no help except a summer fire guard who was one of the local school teachers, and a lookout during fire season, and a small three-man trail crew.
I was only at Capitan about a year and a half, and was then moved to the High Rolls District on the Lincoln, replacing Ed Engstrom who was moved to the Carson. This move took place in the fall of 1946. When we moved to High Rolls we again found that the house was badly in need of repairs and one of my first jobs was to take care of these items.
I was able, by enclosing a porch on the back of the house, to make an extra bedroom since at that time we had three children and needed three bedrooms and this, coupled with some additional repairs to the fireplace and the floors of the house, made it a pretty livable dwelling. This particular Station is no longer in existence, and the headquarters for the Ranger is now at Cloudcroft. However, at the time High Rolls was abandoned, the Ranger was moved to Alamogordo and remained there until new quarters were built at Cloudcroft.
I was at High Rolls about a year and a half, and during this time the solar observatory which is now at Sacramento Peak was established. About the last six months I was on the District, this occupied a great deal of my time in getting special use permits worked out and assisting in getting the installation moved in.
In the spring of 1948 I was moved to Albuquerque and was on detail to the Soil Conservation Service on River Basin studies for several months. When this detail was completed, I was moved into the Division of Range Management in the Regional Office, and was put in charge of the reseeding program. At this particular time, reseeding in Region 3 amounted to little more than a few experimental plots on a few of the Forests.
My major job was to get the reseeding problem recognized in the Washington Office, inventory the amount of work that was needed in the Region, and convince the Washington Office that funds were needed to get started on the job. We were quite successful in this, and were able to get enough money allotted to start some major projects in reseeding work. The first work was started on the Carson, on the Tres Piedras District. This initial project was extremely successful and was the key to expanding the project to several other Forests in the Region. Of course, this work has been continued and is still under way.
In the summer of 1951, I was told that I was being moved to Taos as Supervisor of the Carson Forest. This came as quite a surprise to me since I had never served as a member of a Supervisor's staff during my entire career. At the time that the Regional Forester told me that I was going to Taos, he told me that I could not tell anyone, including my wife, for several weeks until they had been able to discuss the situation with the current Supervisor of the Forest. This was not easy to do, but I was able to keep it to myself, and my wife didn't even know anything about it until I got word from the Regional Forester that I could tell her.
The first job that faced me when I went to Taos was an appeal from some 30 or 40 sheep permittees on the Forest, appealing the elimination of lambing and reduction in seasons. Letters had been written to all of these permittees by my predecessor and he, of course, didn't have time to take any action on it, so this was left to me. As a result of the appeal, we had one of the men from the Washington Office come out and make a field check of conditions, and it was finally agreed that the reduction in seasons and some reduction in numbers probably were not necessary if proper management was initiated. However, the lambing was largely eliminated; except that by this time some of our crested wheat reseeding was established and ready for use, and we were able to permit some lambing on these areas. This took considerable pressure off of our higher mountain ranges, and satisfied a number of the sheep permittees.
Another major problem while I was on the Forest was the sustained yield unit on the El Rito District. This was a continual headache, and because of the peculiarities of the operator, it was not at all a successful operation. As a matter of fact, the operator who was there at the time was finally burned out and went out of business.
We had a few other small problems that kept cropping up during the time I was on the Carson, such as one of the Ranger's shooting a permittee's cow, and then later shooting two mules belonging to a prominent sheepman. The mules were killed during a Closing Order, but caused considerable uproar. Both of these incidents required considerable work to quiet down.
Also, even back at that time; we were having trouble or problems with the Taos Indians and their claim on the Blue Lake area. Nothing specific was resolved during the time I was on the Carson, but it did require innumerable meetings with the Tribal Council and also trips into the area with representatives of both the Tribal Council and the United Pueblos Agency. [Ed.: Blue Lake was transferred to Taos Pueblo control by P.L. 91-550 in 1970.]
In July of 1956 I was transferred to the Washington Office, in the Division of Administrative Management, under Gordon Fox. After about a year and a half in Washington, Gordon Fox was assigned to his present [i.e. 1962] position as Deputy to Mr. Hendee who, at that time, was called an Assistant Chief and is now known as the Deputy Chief. Ed Schultz replaced Gordon Fox as Director of the Division of Administrative Management, and my position was Branch Chief in charge of the Branch of Emergency Work Programs and Workload Measurements.
In June of 1961, I was transferred to Albuquerque as Chief of Operations, which position I occupy at the present time. I believe that's about it.
Well, Walt, that's an excellent summation of your career. There is a question or two I'd like to ask you. Let's go back to the CCC days. How was the original camp organized?
Well, the first camp I was in, of course, as I said previously, was a tent camp, and the Army had the responsibility of organizing the camp and handling all of the logistics, and the complete operation of the camp itself.
The involved agencies, land management agencies, were assigned the boys in the morning, took them out on the job and were responsible for them until they returned to camp in the evening, at which time the Army took them over and, of course, were responsible for them until the following morning.
The regular Army was the nucleus of the camp operation, with a number of reserve officers assigned, particularly in the later stages of the program. At the time the program was dropped, it was operated almost entirely by Reserve officers. Of course, the program was stopped when World War II started. Had it not been for that, we undoubtedly would still have a CCC program: would have had all through these years.
You felt that the work they were doing then justified their existence?
Oh, no question about it. We built many miles of roads, lots of range fences, range improvements of all kinds, erosion control, and while this Region did not concentrate on the construction of administrative improvements such as Ranger Stations, a number of the Regions did, and of course these buildings are still in use today.
As the agency providing the work, what was our obligation in the educational part of the program?
We had no obligation at all as far as education was concerned, except what training we gave the boys on the job. Actually, there was not an educational program in the CCs comparable to the educational program we have today in the Job Corps.
It was primarily a work program?
That's right. The reason for this was, at that time we were in the throes of the Depression, and there were millions of people out of work. As a matter of fact, we had men in our camp out of Santa Fe who had doctor's degrees, and a number of men who were high school and college graduates. But they were not able to find work at all, and this was aimed at providing work for those people who just could not get a job.
Some of them came there hungry, didn't they?
Yes, they did, very hungry. Men who had been out of work, with families to support, been out of work for months and months.
I notice that you had a detail to Triple A. What did your work consist of on that Triple A detail?
It was primarily the examination of ranches owned by men who had applied for benefits under the Triple A program.
In this examination, we had to determine the carrying capacity of the ranch, and recommend approval of the improvements that the rancher wished to do, such as water developments, fencing, terracing, reseeding: all types of range improvement work.
It was up to us to recommend to the County Committee the improvements that we felt were justified. This was primarily based on the estimated carrying capacity of the man's ranch. Final approval then rested with the County Committee, and of course the rancher was then paid a stated amount for the work that he did on his own land. He would contribute his labor, and some materials, and the Government would match this for the rest of the cost.
Did you actually determine, or make an estimate of the grazing capacity of the range?
Yes, we at that time used the old range reconnaissance methods of determining carrying capacity of a range. Admittedly, as has been proven since then, it was not too sound an estimate, but at least it was a basis on which we were able to recommend the allocation of Triple A funds for range improvement work.
Did you map the area, make a map just like we did in the Service?
That's right. The owner would furnish us with a base map, or at least a sketch map, of his holdings and then we would locate existing improvements and map the area as to range conditions and carrying capacity.
That must have given us a fairly good method of selling our program to ranchers in the various sections of the State.
Well, I think it did, although, as was to be expected, many of the ranchers did not agree with our estimates on carrying capacity at all. Quite often the capacity we would arrive at would be something less than half the number of cattle that they were actually running at the time. And of course if they were overstocked, and were not going to make any provision for protection of their lands when they constructed many of these range improvements, the County Committee would quite often disapprove their applications.
I expect with those disagreements, Walt, there were several little adventures that you might have had?
Yes, there were. As a matter of fact, I recall one small ranch that I went to out of Las Vegas where a man met me at the gate with a gun. He wasn't going to have any part of any Government bureaucrat coming on his land and telling him how many cattle he could run. But I was able finally to convince him that I wasn't going to do him any damage.
I found later that the main reason for his objections was that he had had some unfortunate experiences with a Forest Service officer shortly before that and this had made him pretty angry at the Service in general. However, I found that he kinda liked to have his picture taken and, fortunately, I had a camera with me and I shot an awful lot of pictures of this one individual before I left the ranch. He also had done a lot of erosion-control work that he was quite proud of, and I got a number of pictures of this. That pleased him very much, and from then on I had no trouble with him.
But we did have a few people who, even though they applied for the program, were very much against any Government men coming on their ranches. We also had a few who applied who were not eligible, and this took considerable persuasion and discussion to convince them that they were not eligible for the program.
You mentioned when you were in the northern part of New Mexico, the livestock associations. How are they organized and used?
Well, on the Coyote District the livestock associations were limited usually to one grazing allotment, and were made up of permittees on that particular allotment. On a number of allotments we had 30 or 40 grazing permittees on one allotment. In a few instances the association covered two allotments, primarily because we had permittees who grazed on one of them in the summer and another in the winter, and we combined the two into one association. They were strictly local associations.
They elected their own officers. I, as Ranger, of course, had to act as Secretary and keep the thing going, but they conducted their own meetings, which I always attended. To the extent we could, we accepted their recommendations for range management practices and that sort of thing on the allotments. We could not always accept their recommendations because they were continually requesting increases in numbers and this, of course, we could not allow.
Do you feel that's the best way to work with those people up there, through associations?
Yes. Wherever you have a large number of permittees on one allotment, I don't see how you can do it any other way. There must be a group that you can go to and deal with, because to try to deal with 30 or 40 grazing permittees individually is a hopeless task. There must be somebody that represents the entire group and has authority to make commitments.
I noticed you giving a little emphasis to the deplorable condition of the housing that you found in the various places. Now that you're Chief of Operation and head of all this, can you give me a little brief resume of housing and what you're doing about it now?
Well, I think this has been a problem, particular in Region 3, ever since the Forest Service was created. We are, of course, anxious to do as much as we can about it, and to provide the satisfactory facilities that our people need at our Ranger Stations. Unfortunately, the funds that we receive for this work are very inadequate and at the present time we are not able to do much more than meet our current needs. In other words, we are not able to catch up on the backlog of construction that is needed at all.
We were able to do a very considerable amount of this work during the APW program, but unfortunately this did not last long enough to really get us on top of the situation. At the present time we're getting about enough money to construct one complete Ranger Station a year. This does not mean that we concentrate on constructing a complete new ranger station every year, but it is the equivalent of that. In other words, an office, a couple of houses; and a warehouse, barn, and the other necessary facilities that go with a Ranger Station.
In looking at the future, I'm afraid that we will not be able to expect much more than this each year. We have a number of Ranger Stations that are quite old, and we are finding that we actually have Ranger Stations that are falling down or are approaching the point where they will fall down, to the extent that we're losing more than we're gaining each year.
We'll admit that 30 years ago it was a pretty sorry situation.
Of the stations that I occupied when I was on five Districts, as a Ranger, only one was in good condition and, as I said before, before we left that one the house was beginning to fall apart. This was the Capitan Station.
Then you're not very optimistic about catchin' up?
No, no. Not at the present rate. Unless we should get some additional emergency programs that would enable us to do some of this work, such as we did during APW.
Do you anticipate that the Job Corps will be able to help the situation?
We have hopes that we will be able to do some building construction with Job Corps employees. I think this will be a fine opportunity for training these young men in carpentry, brick-laying, plumbing, electrical work, and all the various skills that go into the construction of a building. We have high hopes that after the program is in operation a year or so we will be able to do just this. If we can, it will help us catch up on some of this backlog. Of course, this will be somewhat limited to a reasonable proximity of the camp itself, so that we won't have to transport the boys too far. However, we may be able to use side camps as we did in the CCs, and if we can do this, then we could reach out farther.
You mentioned that you headed up the workload measurement program in the Service, and one of your predecessors on the Carson is really the father of workload measurements: that is Earl Loveridge.
Talk a little bit about workload measurement: I know you worked in the Region on that.
Well, Earl Loveridge of course did a tremendous amount of work, some of which was very good and some was proven to be not so good. But he certainly was the father of workload measurement, and some of the theories and practices that he initiated are still in operation.
Probably one of the worst fiascos I can recall in my career in the Forest Service was what was known as the old 26A, which was put into operation while I was at Pecos. This was a large atlas-sized form on which the Ranger and his Assistant were required to first plan all of their work for the month, down to fifteen-minute intervals and, secondly, to account for everything they did, down to fifteen-minute intervals. As can well be imagined, this became so cumbersome that in a very few months it was dropped completely.
But as I recall, it took me about two days every month to make this out for the Ranger and myself at the beginning of the month, and about a day and a half at the end of the month, to record all of our accomplishments. Our diaries had to be in such detail that it took an exceptional amount of time merely to keep the diary, because we did have to account for our time down to fifteen minute intervals.
After this was dropped, several different methods were tried. One of the major ones was the old Region 3 Green Book which was, in effect, an annual plan of work, in which all of the jobs that are ordinarily done on a Ranger District were listed in a book, with space at the side for planning the amount of time that the Ranger was going to put in on each job. Now this was then segregated by months of the year and was used by the Ranger as a tool for planning his monthly work. It worked reasonably well, but was still quite cumbersome.
During the time that I was in Washington, although this was not in my Branch, the uniform work planning system was started, and has been in operation since, and appears to be one of the best systems that we have come up with as far as work planning is concerned. The workload measurement is tied in with work planning certainly. I think that the method of workload measurement that we used until just recently was not too sound, primarily because no one in the field was able to take the workload as published in the Manual and re-compute the workload on a Ranger District and arrive at anywhere near the answer that was listed in the tabulation in the Manual for that particular District.
This was primarily due to some factors that were introduced at the Washington level that the field knew nothing about. This was one of the major complaints of people in the field. If, for example, a District were divided or consolidated, it was impossible at the Regional level to recompute the workload. This would have to be done in the Washington Office because we do not have the information on the factors that were used.
I think the present system is good. They now have it on ADP [Automatic Data Processing]. We have all the information that is necessary to re-compute the workload any time we wish, and update it, and keep it current to any extent that we feel necessary. In the past we had to do it only at five-year intervals and follow the computations as done at the Washington level, but we were not fully informed as to how the figures were arrived at. Under the present system we can do it ourselves, and this greatly facilitates the re-computation whenever Districts are divided or Districts are consolidated.
I also think that the time allowances now are much more realistic than they were in the past. The Volumes of Business that are used are much more indicative of the actual work on a Ranger District.
Even though we've done away with the old diary that all of us kept for so long, you still feel that the information received is satisfactory and meets our need?
Yes. I think it gives us everything that we need. The diary itself was largely a repetition of monthly work plans, for example, and frequently was inaccurate, and in many instances was rather meaningless. I think that the present periodic or monthly work plan, with provision for recording accomplishment of jobs that were done, is all that is necessary, and it certainly greatly reduces the amount of time necessary to maintain a diary. I, for one, am happy to see the Forest Service finally eliminate diaries.
One thing more, Walt: I know that you headed up the Forest Service reorganization plan. Trace the development of that a little bit.
First, I might say that particular study, which was conducted jointly by the Forest Service and a private consulting firm known as the McKinzie Company, was one of the most interesting experiences that I've had in my entire career.
The study ran for a little over a year and required a great number of interviews with people in the field at every level of the organization. The members of McKinzie & Company that assisted us in this study gave us some fine information and were able to guide the method of making the study so that I'm sure it was a much more meaningful project that it would have been had we not had a consulting firm of the caliber of McKinzie & Company working with us.
This study was actually initiated as a result of Clair Hendee's feeling that the Forest Service should, at intervals, take a very close look at its organization and determine whether or not any major changes were necessary to keep abreast with the current conditions that exist in the Service, and to be sure that we were not becoming stagnated. I think that this was a wise move on the part of the Chief and his staff, and I think the organization study did point out a number of weaknesses that were very much in need of correction.
If nothing else, it pointed to the fact that the Forest Service had drifted into a line-staff type of organization whereby every staff officer also exercised line authority over the next organizational unit below, which in effect meant that every Regional Forester had a large number of bosses; every Forest Supervisor had as many bosses as there were Divisions in the Regional Office; and every Ranger had as many bosses as there were Staffmen in the Supervisor's Office. This was well on the way to being a rather intolerable situation.
One of the things that people in the field complained about more than anything else was the fact that they just had too many bosses. If the organization study did nothing else, it pointed this out very clearly and did result in the Chief and his staff deciding that the old line-staff organization that we were operating under would be stopped and that we would go to a more-or-less pure line-and-staff, whereby the staff do not have any line authority over the organizational echelons below them, but act in an advisory capacity.
It is true that a Staffman who had any people in his own units, working under him, assumed line authority for those particular people, but this does not extend to the next organizational echelon below him. I think this is sound, and I think it's a fine move.
We in Region 3 have probably done more in this particular respect than most of the other Regions in the Forest Service because our Regional Forester believes in it and has insisted that we will operate on as pure a line-and-staff type of organization as we possibly can.
There were a number of other recommendations in the Study that applied to the National Forest Administration portion of the Forest Service, as compared to Research or State and Private, and I believe all of these were sound. Delegations of authority were gone into at great length in the Study, and as a result of this there have been increased delegations to field units, all the way to the Ranger Districts. I expect that there will be more of this in the years ahead.
This was an extremely interesting assignment. I think the Forest Service has benefited rather materially as a result of the Study.
Yes, not only in clarifying authority, but also in decentralizing it.
That's right. No question but that we were drifting into a rather centralized type of organization, and this has been reversed as a result of that Study.
Well, Walt, you've had an extremely varied career in the Forest Service, with your details and assignments at all levels. If you had it to do over again, would you go back into the Forest Service?
No question in my mind about that Ed, I certainly would. I've never regretted being a part of the Forest Service, and I'm enjoying it just as much today as I did 30 years ago. If I had it to do over, I'd do exactly the same thing.
Ray, when did you enter the Forest Service?
Well, I didn't enter until February 1934. I was sent to the Sitgreaves, as an Assistant to Nicholson. Nicholson had been a Ranger on the Mormon Lake District. One of the tragedies of the Forest Service is that while he and somebody else were trying to install a telephone pole they had a gin-pole rigged up and were trying to get this big pole down in the hole all at once the pole slipped and hit Nicholson in the side and knocked a kidney loose. He was physically unable after that to continue the work of a Ranger, so they made him the Principal Clerk of the Sitgreaves.
He later died from that injury. But like so many early Forest men, they didn't pay much attention to following rules. He completely ignored the compensation law and failed to make a report on this accident. After he died, his widow was completely unable to get anything from that accident.
This Nicholson was one of the nicest guys I ever knew. He told me all about his story. I made up my mind at that time that I would never let an injury be neglected where a man and his family might suffer because of my not reporting it.
I'd like to tell of another incident. While I was on the Coconino, a man got sick with pneumonia and died. His name was Skoulson. We called up the Fiscal Agent. Lloyd Dahl happened to be on the Coconino on temporary duty, so we called up the Fiscal Agent and asked if we should make out an injury report. This man had pneumonia and we didn't know what the cause of it was, but the Fiscal Agent said, "No." But we went ahead and made the report anyway.
Lloyd Dahl went out and spent about three days in the field. He interviewed ranchers and CC foremen and enrollees, and everybody that he could contact. He came in about four days later with a complete resume in statements of what had happened and how this man happened to get pneumonia. We sent it to the Fiscal Agent and he sent it on to the Compensation Commission, and the Compensation Commission made the allowance, and Mrs. Skoulson received $120 a month compensation.
A short time before that, maybe several years, the Ranger on the Flagstaff District of the Coconino was out at Lake Mary and there was a lightning storm he was fishing and the lightning struck him and he was killed. His widow received no compensation. That was before I came to the Coconino. That was another story of where the family of a man in the Region suffered because somebody didn't make a report. I could go on and on and give you ever so many cases.
One thing that tickled me very much: Dean Cutler, when he was down here as Supervisor, he says, "Ray, I've told Mary that if I ever get killed in the Forest Service or any other way, that she should come and get hold of you to make out her compensation claim."
I was assigned to the Sitgreaves as Assistant Clerk. That was the year that cost accounting went in, full force, and none of the Administrative Assistants, or whatever they were called, Principal Clerks maybe, knew anything about cost keeping. There I was, a new man in the Forest Service, and I didn't know anything about it either! Nicholson, about the time one of the reports was due, took off on an extended vacation and he says, "Ray, I want you to make out this report." I got on it and nearly went nuts trying to figure out cost accounting. I studied and studied it, and I couldn't get it. I'd read the books over and over and over. Finally, after a month of just the hardest kind of studying, the thing kind of opened up, unfolded, and was clear to me. So I made out the reports on the Sitgreaves. I had to work about 24 hours a day to learn the doggone thing.
They were having trouble at different places. On the Tusayan and the Kaibab (they consolidated that year, you will remember) and Hugh Putnam was up there Hugh had just come down from Utah and he had his hands full without trying to learn how to make a cost account report. He had two of them to make, one for the Tusayan and one for the Kaibab. So Albert Morris [Regional Fiscal Agent] called the Sitgreaves and told them to send me up there to make those reports. Walter Mann was Supervisor on the Kaibab. So I made the reports.
By that time Leo Anderson, the Administrative Assistant on the Tonto, was having trouble; he was having more than he could do with all the new CCC camps, and the ERA and different programs. He hadn't even looked at the book. So Albert Morris called the Kaibab and said, "Send Kallus down to make this report." And so I made out the Tonto report. There were troubles on other Forests, so they sent me in to the Regional Office to make out the Regional report and while in there I had to re-make several of the other Forests' reports. It wasn't that I was smarter than anybody else; it just happened that I had to concentrate on that one subject.
Lee Kirby had been Supervisor on the Sitgreaves while I was there, or most of the time I was there, and Lee seemed to like my work. When he went to the Tonto as Supervisor, he requested that I come down there and take over the job as Administrative Assistant and Leo Anderson, then Principal Clerk, would stay on. Leo was a vindictive sort of a fellow, likeable in many ways, but he sure hated my guts. I didn't know anything but cost-keeping, and there's a whole lot more to being an Office Manager for the Forest Service than cost-accounting!
Well, it got so that every time I had a problem and had to ask Leo how to handle it, he would give me an answer, but I found out that if I would always do the opposite, I would be right! Well, poor old Leo is dead, and I wouldn't want to hurt his reputation. He was one of the old-time Ranger-type Clerks and didn't use a typewriter; everything was done by hand. He didn't use an adding machine, and so on. And on a Forest like the Tonto, that had three or four CC camps, well, he couldn't handle it. T. T. Swift, the Supervisor, was doing all of Leo's work. When Kirby came down there, he wouldn't do Leo's work, so that's how he happened to send for me.
I want to continue on this cost-keeping; this cost-keeping was quite a problem. Nobody knew it, and nobody wanted to learn it. The thing theoretically was fine, and would have been OK except the New Deal brought in such terrific conditions as to nullify the good work of the Forest Service, in that you would depreciate roads and all investments against operating accounts.
Pooler (Regional Forester) came down there one day and he says, "Ray, tell me, what's your opinion of this cost-keeping thing?" This had been sort of hanging fire, and I think they were having trouble at the Washington level, whether to continue with this system, or whether they couldn't.
You remember they had a lot of trouble on the Crook the Globe District was on the Crook at that time. They built a very expensive house with CC money. I'd been down on the Crook, helping out while Lincoln (the Administrative Assistant) had a little nervous breakdown. While I was down there I took the warehouse account and cleared it. The warehouse account consisted in large part of powder, cement, and other items that went into the stores account. Now most of the stuff was used on that Globe Ranger Station. The proper handling would have been to have pro-rated authorized expenses, maybe $7,000 or $8,000, to the Globe Ranger Station. However, there was so much money already in it that Buckner was just havin' one fit after another.
Who was Buckner?
Buckner was Head of the CCC in Washington. He ran the whole CCC out of Washington. He got hold of the excessive cost of this Globe Ranger Station.
So I was telling Pooler, I said, "Well, this cost accounting is gonna be the rope that's gonna hang you and the Chief, and a lot of other big shots." He says, "What do you mean?" So I told him about the stores account on the Crook, and how I had just cleared that and didn't show any charges against the Globe Ranger Station. I said the rules require that I should, and I should have put $7,000 against that Ranger Station. I said I figured that if I did, on top of all the other hollering that Buckner was doing, that you would prefer that I not do it.
He said, "What do you think of cost accounting, anyway?" And I said, "Well," I says, "when you started out on this cost accounting, it was real good. You took and depreciated all your investments and applied the depreciation against your operating accounts, so much to grazing, so much to timber, so much to land use, and at that time, when it started out, it cost the Government ten cents to collect a grazing dollar. Now, that's not bad when you consider all the costs and throw them against your operating expense, and can show the public that it cost ten cents to collect the grazing dollar, that's fine."
"But," I said, "here we have spent $200,000 on soil erosion, and nobody knew where to put it, so they threw it all against one project, that 1200 acre soil erosion project up here someplace, and all charges, according to this cost-accounting book, was to this 1200 acre project. Now then you come along with all these roads, you've got these Ranger Stations, you've got all this other stuff; right now it's costing you about $1.50 to collect a grazing dollar. The time is gonna come, sure as anything, under this program, this New Deal Administration, that you're gonna spend between $5.00 and $10.00 to collect a grazing dollar.
Now suppose some man goes out for the Senate and comes along and says, "Look here, what's this? Pooler, Regional Chief, years ago you could collect a grazing dollar for a dime; now it costs $5.00, or $10.00." I says, "Another thing, there is a place, out on Mt. Lemmon, I think it is, where they had spent $5,000 to build a toilet in a recreation area. It was a pretty elaborate affair, but nevertheless it was a toilet, and it cost $5,000." Now, I told him about this, "Now, suppose screaming headlines cry out, It costs the Forest Service $5,000 to build a toilet." We talked on, from that angle, for quite a little while. The next time Pooler went to Washington was the time that cost accounting was killed.
Do you remember what year that was?
No, but it must have been '37 or '38. But that was how cost accounting really came to be killed. Pooler sent McKenzie down to check these things out, and I guess he found I was right.
I started to tell you about the early days on the Sitgreaves. There isn't so much that I can remember except that I helped Gordon Bade during the winter when I didn't have much to do. He'd make a timber sale analysis of a section, or a number of sections of land. On one of them he made this timber analysis, listed the number of trees you know how it's done and remarked once that this was the area where the early settlers at Snowflake and Taylor came to get logs to build their cabins. It was just natural forest management accidentally, in that the trees then this was in '34 were so thick, the new growth was so thick, that you could scarcely walk through it. I was impressed by that and I remember it quite clearly.
I was there on the Sitgreaves just after the wild horse deals. Well, I thought they were gonna have about half the Forest personnel in the penitentiary. At that time they were shooting wild horses. A fellow by the name of Pierce, out around Heber, had horses that were running around in the Forest. As a matter of fact, horses that had developed in more or less of a wild state, the Lord only knows from how long back. There were an awful lot of horses on the Sitgreaves and a lot of other Forests at that time, so the big deal was to get rid of these horses.
Regulation T-12 authorized Forest Rangers to shoot unbranded horses. Now, a horse in a wild state, unbranded, was a wild animal that comes under the State laws. The Pierce brothers, whenever they needed a little money, would herd up a carload of wild horses at Holbrook and ship 'em back East, or Montana, or wherever they could sell 'em. That was the way this outfit made their living. They didn't like the Forest Service horning in and killing off their resources. Finally the thing got so hot, and the Forest Service wouldn't give in, that they had Dolph Slosser, the Ranger at Heber, arrested, and Old Judge French defended him. Now, this happened about a year before I got into the Forest Service. It was a live subject at that time.
I have another story in connection with wild horses that I've got to tell you. Oscar McClure was killin' wild horses down on the Beaver Creek District of the Coconino. There was a permittee down there, a cranky old guy, and nobody in the Forest Service was ever able to get along with him. He had quite a big influence and the Forest Service was trying to get along with him, and they would not do anything to antagonize him needlessly.
Oscar had this project, killing these wild horses; he furnished the gun and the Government furnished the ammunition, I believe that's the way it was. Well, Oscar saw this wild horse over behind a clump of trees and he took a shot at the horse, hit it and killed it. He ran over there, and what do you think he found? the personal, private saddle horse of this cranky old rancher! Oscar had to do something, because it was pretty much out in the open there, so this fellow was sure to see it.
A lot of people were objecting to the killing of these horses, and certainly this fellow would object to the killing of his saddle horse. Now, Oscar was a man never to be completely stumped. He went down to the Ranger Station, got a piece of dynamite, come back and cut the horse's stomach open, set off the dynamite, and there was horse-flesh all over that country! The fellow was looking and Oscar was helping him for his saddle horse, but of course he never found out what happened to him. Now, that's a true story.
So far as the old Sitgreaves is concerned, they had another case. Bob Salton was the Senior Staff Officer. Kirby was pulled into Washington on some assignment, so Bob was Acting Supervisor. Dutch Reidhead had a gang of men up on the Mogollon Rim building a road to a timber sale. He had 40 or 50 men. This was in '34, you know, and they were using one-yard scrapers and two-yard scrapers.
These fellows were at a camp, and the Forest telephones never worked very good, especially during lightning storms. One time, they were having quite a bit of static on the line. We got a call from Dutch that somebody had died, but all we could make out was that he had died under most mysterious circumstances. We got hold of the Sheriff at Holbrook and told him what we knew; we couldn't find out much about it, but we suggested that he bring along the Coroner. The Sheriff said he'd be out there after a while. Bob Salton says, "Ray, you come and go along and bring the typewriter, because we may have to take a lot of statements up there."
We started out just about dark and it was one of those cloudy nights when you couldn't see a star; you couldn't see the moon; you couldn't see your hand in front of you. As we went on, it got darker and darker, and the Forest just seemed to close right in on us. We finally got up there and found a bunch of men around Dutch Reidhead's tent. Bob said, "What's the matter, Dutch?"
Well, he didn't know. A young fellow who lived over at Taylor had died; he had said he was sick; he had come in and the cook had given him an orange. In an hour somebody went back to his tent and they found him dead. Well, we didn't think it was the food that caused it, but there was no reason, that anybody could think of, that this man should have died. The Coroner and Sheriff decided that they should get this fellow to the mortuary and have an autopsy made.
Bob thought there could have been some skulduggery, or it could have been heat prostration, or anything. It was real late, about 2 o'clock in the morning, when the decision was reached that they would take him into Winslow. The Sheriff put him in the back of his car and the Coroner was in the front seat with the Sheriff. Along behind comes Bob Salton and I in the pickup, Dutch Reidhead behind us, and there were two or three other cars. Sirens were shrieking, and down the timber-lined road we went dark, scary, a dead man, and how he died, no-one knows.
We got him down to the office of the Winslow Mortuary and they performed an autopsy, Dr. Riley, I believe was one of them. These fellows got in there and they must have cut and cut, and cut because they were in there 30 minutes. I said to Bob, "There's something wrong, Bob, they should have been out before now." Well, Bob agreed.
Finally they came out, and said, "Now, we don't want to get you people excited, but we think it's spinal meningitis. We don't know for sure. It's either that or sleeping sickness. We don't want you to tell a soul. We want you to go home and take your cloths off as soon as you get into the house, hang them on the line where the sun will get to them and kill the bugs, with the least danger of anybody catching it."
Bob had been to France, and had been on a ship where seven or eight men in his compartment had died with spinal meningitis. All his life he had been confronted with this danger. I think that he thought that if he was ever gonna die, it was gonna be from spinal meningitis. Well, we went on back down the road to Holbrook. Bob says, "Now, Ray, we can't tell our wives. We've got to keep this quiet, because if this should turn out to be spinal meningitis, the fellows out in the camps, 40 or 50 of them, would spread out to the four winds." So we decided, solemnly to each other, that we wouldn't tell a soul about this, as the doctors had requested.
We got into Holbrook just as daylight was breaking. Bob's back door, which is where he went in, was always unlocked. His wife left it unlocked so he could just come in and go to bed. He took off his cloths and hung them on the line, as the doctor had said to do, and went to go in the door, and the door was locked! There he was; it was getting daylight and Bob standing naked on the back porch!
His wife came to the door and there was her husband standing there as naked as you please. She said, "Bob Salton, what in the world happened? Come on in here; what happened? Tell me." "Oh, I can't tell you." He was standing at the door and he had resolved not to tell her, but before long he did tell, of course.
I went on to the door of my house; I didn't take my cloths off, but I said to my wife, "Make me a cup of coffee; I can't come in now." "Why not?" "Well, I can't tell you." She hounded me and finally I told her. Well, we found out; we asked the doctor what was the first symptom of spinal meningitis, and he said the first sign of it would be a crick in the neck. I couldn't help being a little concerned, and Bob couldn't either.
We never told old Nick Nicholson, the Administrative Assistant. He came in to my office rubbing his neck, and he says, "Well, Bob's got a crook in his neck. It looks bad." I would go in to Bob and say, "Bob, are you feeling all right?" "Oh, yeah." Nick was trying to excite us, you see.
Then, after a while, Nick would come in and say, "Bob really don't look well; he keeps rubbing his neck. What could it mean?" "I don't know." He wasn't supposed to know the story, but he got it from somewhere. Maybe Mrs. Salton told him, or maybe my wife did. Anyway, Nick kept this up all day. I was watching Bob, and Bob was watching me, to see if we had a crick in our neck!
I've got a story about Ralph Hussey and Pink Arnold. This one happened up on the Santa Fe in the early days. They were making a land classification. It seems that Huss and Pink Arnold were making this study. They ate their meals at the Harvey House, and had some kind of a shack that they rented in town and were sleeping there. They spent their time, of course, in the field.
One morning Huss got up and put on his clothes and shook Arnold, but didn't say anything, just made him think it was time to get up. As he walked to the door, Pink wasn't ready yet, hadn't got his clothes on, and Huss said, "Well, Pink, you're just too slow, I can't wait for you." So he went on out the door and in a few minutes, Pink came out. Huss went on around the house, came on back in and went back to bed.
Pink went on down to the Harvey House ready for breakfast. He ate breakfast, drank a cup of coffee, and was wondering where the Heck Huss had gone to. He ordered another cup of coffee and, finally, with his third cup of coffee he looked up at the clock and saw the time 2:30! That Hussey was always pulling stunts like that.
Huss had a lot of stories. He told me about when he first went into the Forest Service, he was on the Apache, and I don't know, it could have been when Fred Winn was the Supervisor. Fred said, "Huss, there's a fire out there; go out and put it out." He said, "Ray, I got ready and I dashed 65 miles to that fire on a mule." I says, "How long were you gone?" "Well," he said, "It took me a month to put it out." That was the way they fought fires in those days. Huss claims that was the first fire he ever went to he rushed to this fire, 65 miles on the back of his mule!
* * * * * * * * * *
From Service Notes for November 1908: "A number of accounts for horse shoeing have been submitted recently by supervisors and other Forest officers who are required to own their own horses. Shoeing is considered as pertaining to horse equipment, and accounts of this nature should never be submitted by Forest officers for their own horses, unless it is shown that the horses were used by the Forest Service for other purposes than the personal use by the owner and without a per diem consideration."
* * * * * * * * * *
There's a story of Huss and Sim Strickland. They were here on the Lincoln on land classification, and were just about to finish. It was in the wintertime. A big snow came along and just snowed everybody in. They weren't gonna come into town although their food was about to run out. Huss says, "We'll just take our gun and go out and get a deer."
They went out to get a deer. Huss went over one hill and Sim went the other direction. Sim saw a rabbit and he thought, "Well, maybe I won't see a deer," so he shot the rabbit. And he never did see a deer. Huss heard the shot and thought, "Well, maybe he didn't hit that deer." He saw a rabbit about that time, so he shot a rabbit. Sim heard the shot. Each of them thought, "Well, we're gonna have venison tonight, and until we get out of this snow." When they went in, they got to the cabin about the same time I guess it must've been Aqua Chiquita and each one was carrying a rabbit!
Then Fred Arthur, Supervisor of this Forest, had a kind heart; he wasn't gonna leave these land classifiers out in this snow covered mountain where you couldn't get through. He was gonna get through to them. They didn't have helicopters and all this stuff. They sent a fellow out it could've been Reuben Boone they sent him out on a horse with a bag of flour, a little bacon and some other stuff, such as could be carried on the saddle of his horse, to give to these fellows to help them out. That grub was needed. They made whoever it was sit down and eat rabbit with them that night.
There's a story of Harold Linn he was quite a character. Ed Miller, Supervisor of the Coconino, gave Harold Linn an allotment of about $200 to build a trail on the Beaver Creek District. Several months had gone by and nothing had been done; no money had been spent. Ed Miller wrote him a very stiff letter and asked him why he didn't spend that money and build that trail. Harold Linn really had a good excuse. He wrote it on the bottom of the letter, and it was, "It snowed all around and I couldn't help it," and signed it Harold Linn!
Another time I was down there with Hussey. Harold was telling about so many dudes down in that area of guest ranches, and he says, "Hussey, there are so many of these dudes we've got to get a 'dude-ometer' so we can keep a record of them."
Bill Brown was another character. Bill didn't believe in cooking anything but meat. He was the Ranger on the Long Valley District, an old-time Ranger. I don't know how long he was at Long Valley for many years before I came to the Coconino, though, and that was in 1938. I remember that Hussey and he were always arguing. Bill Brown was telling about an incident that happened when he and Hussey were out on a trip. Hussey says, "I just can't figure where it was that you are trying to tell me." and Bill Brown says, "Why you remember; I was eating an apple and I had the core, and I threw it at a squirrel." Hussey says, "Damn you, Bill Brown, you can confuse me more than any other man alive!"
Old Bill Brown had a really hazardous fire district. You couldn't ever get him to lay off a lookout. The excuse always was, "It rained where you say, but it hasn't rained at Bly." That's got to be a byword, "Call Old Bill and find out if it rained down at Bly."
We had a fire meeting one time, and Bill finally told how bad it did rain. Huss was cussin' him out because it never rained at Bly. Bill says, "It does rain down there," he said, "Right now it is raining so hard the trees are sinking into the ground." Well, there was a humorist who did a lot of writing, who lives down in that part of the country, and he got hold of this story, that Bill Brown had said the trees were sinking out of sight. So he wrote it up, but he said that the fence posts were sinking out of sight. That story got all over Arizona.
One time during the hunting season, Bill Brown didn't want a bunch of hunters in a certain area. There was one place along the entrance road where, if a certain tree fell down, it would keep hunters from driving into that area; they couldn't get through without getting out and moving that tree. In some way or another, that tree did fall down. There was some evidence that it had been blasted by dynamite, but of course, we would never have thought that Bill Brown could have done it!
Here's another little story about the Long Valley District. There was a lookout there by the name of Embree, I believe it was. He had the Baker Butte Lookout. This was during the War. He had a still up in the attic. We never found it out until it was told later when the fellow was arrested in Payson. He went down there drunk, and was gonna shoot up the town, and it came out then that his distillery was in the attic of the lookout tower.
Harold Hulbert he's retired now and lives in Payson Harold was on the Tonto Basin District. In those days most everybody had lousy offices. You know, they had these old paper files in the offices, that is, unless they had one of the newly constructed CCC deals. Most of them had rats and mice and everything else that could get in there. Wayla Ellis, myself, and Willard Styles were on an audit and we stopped off to see Harold. I had been in Harold's office not long before and worked over his files but, Heaven help me, I never looked in these doggone file boxes. Ellis pulled open the bottom drawer of his paper-mache file case, and there was the nicest rat's nest you ever saw in your life.
I went to the Tonto in June 1935 and left in May 1938, and while I was there, four people were killed, all in automobile accidents. It was just unfortunate, but nevertheless they were accidents that killed people. It got to be a real hot subject. We had a transient camp in one place. Before we got full control of the thing their cooks would trade sugar and other food stuffs for whiskey. They were just a bunch of drunken bums, you know that. Well, a couple of these transients decided to go to Payson to get more liquor. They took the keys off the board and took a car. They were all lit up coming back and they failed to make a curve around Sunflower and went out into space 500 feet; that's the way two were killed.
There was a man that came in after a tractor that had a bulldozer on it. He brought in a truck and the bulldozer stuck out 17 inches on the right hand side of the truck. This condition required a special approval from the State Highway Department to travel on the road, but they never got it. The driver was a transient. The truck was taking this bulldozer back to town and it extended over the center of the road just enough so that a car coming from the other direction at night hit this thing, this 17 inches, and no other part of the truck. One man was killed.
Another fatal automobile accident this was an old postman in Phoenix, riding a bicycle. A man driving a transient truck turned suddenly and the old postman ran into it and was killed. It was in the red light district of town this was about 1937 it was kind of wild down there in that part of Phoenix.
The Regional Office was getting real tired of all these people getting killed in Forest Service accidents. They sent Old Judge French down and somebody else, I don't remember who it was. French says to this truck driver, "What were you doing in that part of town? You had no business in that part of town where this man was killed. What were you doing there?"
Well, this was the doggonest thing you ever heard of: we had been given credit cards for all drivers of all Government cars. We kept no record of these cards. Nobody gave a hoot. This fellow had a credit card. He went down there and got 10 gallons of gasoline and got a rebate of one cent a gallon, and that enabled him to get a glass of beer. That was what he went down there for, and that is how this old man happened to be killed. After that, we started in being pretty careful with the credit cards. We thought we were going to get the Devil from the Regional Office, but they didn't say anything.
In connection with credit cards, about that time you will remember that really nobody paid any attention to credit cards, but everybody had one. As you look at how careful the Forest Service is now in the matter of credit, the inattention that all of us gave to credit then must have been criminal, I know that payment of gasoline bills was about the biggest job the Supervisor's office had. The oil companies would send their signed tickets, and the voucher clerk would then have to go over these tickets and prorate the different appropriations and show account numbers and it would take a whole day usually to get the vouchers out for the month's business.
Well, I wrote the Standard Oil Company a letter in 1935, I believe it was and made up a mimeographed form on thin, onionskin typing paper. That was the first invoice that any oil company ever gave to the Forest Service. The Tonto was the first Forest ever to receive a properly prepared invoice covering a credit card purchase. Nowadays it is so simple there is nothing to it, but then it took a clerk a whole day to make out a voucher for one Forest. You can see where the cost amounted to several dollars.
I probably would have got a $10.00 award under the present Awards Program.
I went to the Coconino in 1938, and was there during the entire period of the War. It was a high-fire Forest. The first time I was ever on a fire was on the Long Valley District when we had 153 on one District going at the same time. We had 917 men besides Overhead; 917 fire-fighters.
Harley was down and we paid off over 600 men on the line at one time. There was an error of one quarter of an hour that I had to pay for at the regular rate of 50 cents, so that was 13 cents I had to pay to the Government for the mistake that was made. I didn't do the work. We drafted the entire football squad of the College at Flagstaff, and they really were the ones who had been fire time-keepers. It was quite a thing to figure out the fire slips in the field when everybody was tired and exhausted, and make only one mistake, and that for only one-fourth of an hour.
We had to do a lot of things during the War. I know that Ethel, who is now Ethel Sutton; she married Gordon Sutton; Ethel and I constituted the clerical force on the Coconino most of the time. I made all the fire reports. We never had anybody come in and help us make out fire reports until we had all those big fires on the Long Valley District when we had all those college men. On occasions I would go out and help Hussey mark timber during the War. I helped to keep logs out of the road, and then in addition I was a member of the Ration Board.
We were mixed up in a lot of extracurricular activities and there was a lot of things happening. We were probably running things to suit ourselves. I know we got in the bad graces of the Regional Office, or a lot of people in the Regional Office. Hussey, he was a real fine guy to work for if he liked you, but he didn't really like very many people in the Regional Office.
Waha, the Regional Engineer, came out inspecting the roads. When they came to a culvert, the policy was to stop and let Waha look at the culvert. He got Hussey's goat it wasn't hard to get anyway and with Waha it was the easiest thing in the world. Waha and Hussey were driving along on this road and somebody was in the back seat he was the one who told this story.
Waha said, "Well, I'd like to stop at that culvert down there at the foot of this hill." When he said that, Hussey put his foot on the gas and went like a bat out of a hatbox, "Oh, you wouldn't like it anyway, why stop?" and he kept on going. Well, that was an odd way to treat an Assistant Regional Forester. But Hussey did that sort of thing quite often.
On one occasion they were building this road on the Long Valley District. They had cut all the trees down on the right of way and were pushing a road through, but they wanted to get the brush burned before the fire season and it was getting real close. Ed Groesbeck, Hussey, and I went out one night and were burning brush. It was a little too dry and the fire got away from us and burned five or six acres. There were a bunch of snags, dead snags, in this area. Ranger Harold Pilmer didn't want to cut those snags down until daylight, and he let them burn.
At daylight his crews came, and Hussey, Groesbeck, and I went to bed. I was so tired I was just barely able to make it to the bed. I got thoroughly asleep when all that once Pilmer was shaking me and saying, "Ray, wake up! I killed a man - I killed a man - I killed a man!" Well, if you ever had a terrible situation, it's being roused out of a sound sleep by a guy standing over you yelling that he just killed a man. I finally came to and got Pilmer to his senses.
He had put two men on a saw, one at each end, and he put one man out watching for falling limbs. He waited until daylight, which presumably was the right thing to do. While these two fellows were sawing this snag down, a limb started to fall and the lookout hollered to these two men on the saw, who were Mexicans, to "Get the Hell out of the Road." Well, one of the fellows moved out of there in a hurry, but the other one just folded his arms and lowered his head and stood still. A limb about nine inches or ten inches in diameter, and six feet long, broke and fell off of this dead snag, and the butt of this limb hit this fellow right on the back of the head, and of course killed him instantly.
Pilmer felt very, very bad about that. It seemed to me that he had taken all precautions that were possible. He had established the lookout; the lookout called the warning; the man froze there was no reason why he should have frozen, but he did, and so that was that.
Now, Alva, I know you've had a world of experience in other Regions. When did you come to Region 3?
I came in October of 1937.
Your experience was such that you came down here knowing what the Forest Service was about in other Regions. How did you find the situation here in Region 3?
Well, to my mind, I thought that Region 3 was ingrown. The administration had been directed by a small group over a long period of time. There were very few technically trained Foresters in the Region. Rangers were of the cowboy type, all good, honest men and good workers, but were not educationally capable of recognizing what conservation actually meant in the way of soils, ecology, and forestry in its more technical aspects.
I was told before I came to Region 3 that the Forester's office considered Region 3 as the most backward Region in the Forest Service; that they felt there should be a transfer of new blood into the Region as rapidly as possible, recognizing that the personnel in the Region was loyal, that they were honest, hard-working people, but had been in their environments for such long periods that they could not see the forest on account of the trees. (I'd better correct that, I guess).
No, that's all right, I appreciate a good, honest statement because you were one of the first of the new blood to come into the Region, and you must have had a pretty difficult time breakin' up the old "combine."
I came into the Region by taking a full-grade reduction in salary rather than to accept one of the several positions offered me in the Washington Office, because with a family of six to put through college, I couldn't afford to pay tuition and put them through college in Washington, D.C.
I was in that position for approximately six months when the Division of Personnel Management was organized and I was made Assistant Regional Forester in charge of Personnel Management. Up to that time, Personnel Management had been a part of the Division of Operations.
I took over the Personnel Division and found myself with one particular person who seemed to delight in carrying every action that was taken by our Division, down to the Division of Operation, almost as soon as that action was decided upon. This situation was not to my liking, but being new in the Region, and having made up my mind to proceed cautiously, I put up with it for some time. I finally found my anger rising over some incident, and I walked down to the Division of Operation and told the Chief of the Division that I was running the Division of Personnel and I wanted him to keep out of it.
That didn't do me any good in some respects, because the Division of Operation and the Associate Regional Forester were so close that the Regional Forester himself did not know of a great many things that were going on in the Region. Anything that they thought might irritate the Regional Forester or excite him was never sent to him. I found that out shortly after I became Assistant Regional Forester. However, my showdown seemed to bear pretty good fruit. I found myself able to make decisions with respect to Personnel Administration and they were my decisions and not necessarily those of any other Division.
I would say that Frank Pooler was an exceptionally fine man. He had been raised in this Region; he had years of experience behind him. Frank's difficulty was that he could not foresee the future of Forestry, as it should eventually be practiced, due to basing his opinions largely upon his previous experience. And, secondly, he had had so many fights with the cowboys that he hadn't been very aggressive in correcting the terrible situation that was apparent to anyone on the great majority of the range allotments in the various National Forests.
While I was in Personnel Management, my heart was still in Range Management. About that time, Woodhead came in, sent in as Chief of Range Management after the death of Shoemaker. Woodhead found the same situation, and many times we discussed it between ourselves.
With your experience and background in Range Management, can you recall the situation of the range, on the ground, when you arrived in this Region?
Well, to my mind, the range resources in Region 3 were in the most dilapidated condition of any area that I had seen from Canada to the Mexican Border, with the possible exception of certain Forests in Region 4.
How did you, as Chief of Personnel, meet that problem?
I was unable to take a very active part in the administration of the range because of being in the Division of Personnel. However, Woodhead and I were pretty close together and we had many a private conversation. We traveled on inspections together frequently, and since our views coincided, I think Woodhead's attempts to correct conditions in the Region reflected to some extent our joint consideration of the problem.
Well, Alva, didn't you take some pretty positive steps in promoting the younger, technically trained men and bringing them up into positions of more importance?
That was one of my chief objectives as Chief of the Division of Personnel. I found the Region overburdened with good, loyal, uneducated uneducated in respect to scientific knowledge of how to recognize serious deficiencies on the ranges, and to some extent in Forest Management itself. I found only three or four technically trained men had been recruited in this Region from World War I up until about 1932, when there was an influx of technically trained men due to the CCC activities. These men, to a large extent, had finally graduated into District Ranger positions by 1937, although there were still quite a few who were in Assistant grades, or timber sales, scaling, things of that sort.
Our training program was largely directed toward fire control, which was to my notion very inadequate, not only in the aspects of recognizing what good fire control should be, but in the equipment, particularly in the equipment we had provided. For example, I think there were only one or two good fire-finders in the entire Region. The location of fires from the lookouts were determined by a simple alidade on an oriented map, sometimes without the map being properly oriented. This led to errors which naturally led to some fires perhaps getting away.
Our training program was directed toward fire control to a considerable extent during the first year or two, and then switched into more of a Range Management type of training, which I think continued long after I left the Forest Service and retired.
You've painted a pretty bleak but accurate picture of the range situation, and how you took a little action on it, and the fire situation which I know you were active in helping correct; what about timber? How did you find that?
Well, I always thought that the management of Ponderosa pine timber was pretty good. I think that Randles recognized the use and the research that was developed through the efforts of Pearson and I think he had in the organization some very fine timber men, particularly after they were assigned to that phase of the administration after the CCCs were liquidated maybe "liquidated" isn't the right term.
That's what happened when the War started?
How about Watershed?
There was practically no recognition of Watershed. Just a little lip service, that's all.
Were you able to get any positive corrective action started in that?
I don't think so. Except indirectly, because efforts in Range Management, which didn't result in any great improvement during the time that I was in Region 3, would of course have some influence on Watershed Management. The whole big subject of Watershed Management was practically unknown, insofar as the administrative force was concerned.
After you worked as Chief of Personnel Management for a while, you transferred then, didn't you, to another Division?
Yes, that's an interesting phase of a career.
Woodhead became Regional Forester upon the retirement of Regional Forester Pooler, leaving the Division of Range Management vacant, and McCutcheon was brought down from Region 2 to become Chief of Range Management. Mac, after one or two meetings with the cowboys over in Arizona, and to some extent in New Mexico, became very nervous and disgusted with having to listen to their complaints. After being in Range Management less than a year, he came down to my office one day and said, "Alva, how about trading Divisions?" I said, "Why?" "Well," Mac says, "I just can't put up with it. It makes me too nervous, listening to all these complaints and going to these meetings. It's difficult even to talk to some of these stockmen."
I said, "Well, I'll trade with you, but I don't think you have half as many worries in Range Management as I have in Personnel Management, so if you want to get some more worries, why you go down and propose that to Woodhead, and maybe we can work it out."
The way it worked out put Mac into a position where he was happy, and I certainly was happy in Range Management, because I had a lot of fun with the stockmen. I used to go out and ride the ranges with 'em on their complaint, and kid 'em, and jump on them about the condition of their range, and things of that sort. They'd take it good-naturedly and I didn't have any particular difficulty with getting along with them at all.
McCutcheon went ahead and has made an outstanding success as a Personnel man.
Personnel, of course, is controlled to a large extent by the policies of the Department and of the Chief's Office. You've got a voluminous bunch of standards that you have to be very familiar with. Mac's type of thinking is just the right type for that kind of job. To me, a lot of those things were irritating. A lot of it is just paper shuffling. No Division can shuffle as many papers as Personnel can.
Did you find the new men that you were working into the organization carried their load?
Yes, I found that with a little encouragement, your true conservationist wanted to do something, and when you get that attitude, then you commence to make progress.
Of course, I stiffened up on trespass. I decided that I would do the same down here in Region 3 that I had done in Region 1; if a person trespassed, he had to pay the penalty. And that penalty was gonna be a pretty stiff cut on his preference. That commenced to stop the trespass pretty fast. We encouraged roundups, as far as we could finance them, and we commenced pickin' up this trespass which had been a problem in the Region for 30 or 40 years, I should judge, and gradually we commenced getting control.
Now, of course, the big thing that has happened, to my mind, to conservation of the range resources and conservation as a whole, is the changed attitude of the public in looking at conservation as a national necessity, and the changed attitude of the Press, and of the Recreation people, and things of that sort. Today the political aspects of the old livestock associations don't amount to very much; they don't care to go up against public opinion today like they could 20 years ago.
I think there's a change in the attitude of the stockmen themselves. After a long period of time they have come to the conclusion that there's more money to be made in having a productive range than there ever was in running a bunch of low-bred cattle, in a scarecrow condition, just in order to get numbers. That is due to the education of the new generation. You couldn't convince some of the old type stockmen that anyone knew anything about running livestock except themselves. Today you have an entirely different type of thinking on the part of your livestock industry, with the exception of a few that haven't died yet.
I wish you'd expand just a little more on that point, Alva, going back, you started in 1908 or '09 in the Forest Service?
I took the Ranger's examination in April 1907, and I turned down some offers of jobs because I was trying to go through school out at the University of California. Finally I went broke and thought maybe I'd take a job for six months, then go back to school, and I didn't ever get back to school. I went to work on the first day of May 1909, on the Hayden. At that time the Hayden Division of the present Medicine Bow National Forest, had issued permits totaling somewhere around 300,000 head of sheep, which was an impossibility for that number of sheep to feed on 300,000 or 350,000 acres, or whatever it was. And of all the dust heaps I ever saw, this Hayden country was probably the best example. The aspens were trimmed as far up as the sheep could reach. I think today that same section of the Medicine Bow probably doesn't have 40,000 head of sheep on it.
What was the attitude of the rancher in those days?
Well, the attitude, of course, of the stockman in the West, going back to the days of Pinchot, was that the establishment of the National Forests, Forest Reserves originally, was detrimental to the livestock industry. There was, as we all know, a series of fights, political fights you might call them, and a great number of editorial and Congressional investigations over the years, all of which were instigated by the stockmen. They had no respect for anyone who advocated conservative grazing, the same as they did years ago for the animal husbandman who advocated better bulls. Well, that changed from time to time, I think I sensed a change in the attitude of stockmen commencing about 1930, possibly a few years before that, after World War I.
Down here, in Region 3, I think there was very little change because your cattle industry in particular, was based on yearlong grazing; it was based on numbers, and the use of browse to a great extent rather than grasses. Any interference in the way of regulation was not appreciated by the vast majority of the stockmen. It was almost impossible to correct the condition because of the terrain and the type of country in which the cattle were grazing or were using.
As I said before, I think the new generation, many of whom are graduates of agricultural colleges, have been exposed to conservation practices and conservation knowledge, and have changed their ideas. I think you'll find not only better cattle, but better-conditioned cattle, fewer losses, and bigger calf crops today than you did 15 or 20 years ago.
I know you've been a good close observer of conditions, can you contrast range conditions as they were in '37, when you came here, with what they are today?
Well, my observations are very limited today on range conditions. This summer I made a trip up through a section of the Carson Forest that I haven't been in for, I imagine, 20 years, and while we haven't had normal moisture in that particular section of the Carson, it looked to me as if there had been a tremendous improvement in the condition on the ground. That particular area was north of Ojo Caliente and out toward that old mining town up there, a mining camp that's abandoned now, and west of Tres Piedras. I know there is a vast improvement in the natural condition of that range over what it was when I saw it in inspections 20 years ago, or more.
I haven't made any observations in the semi-desert types outside of an area north and west of Nogales which I examined about a year ago in connection with an appraisal of a ranch property, and which I had seen two different times on inspections years before. There was a vast improvement in the ground condition of that entire area there.
I did appraise the Y Ranch of the Hubbies here a few years back. Glenn Smith and I made the appraisal for the Navajo Indian Council. I thought there was a vast improvement in their sheep range particularly. Of course they don't run too many cattle; I don't know that they ran any on the Forest, I think they kept those on their own private lands. That sheep range, with their watering improvements, hauling the water to the sheep instead of trailing the sheep to the water, made a vast difference in that particular area. I was rather amused at the improvements in conditions there.
So I'd say, from what little I've seen of the ranges, that there's improvement almost everywhere.
You've been observing Forest Service practices and procedures for over 50 years, Alva; do you feel that the Forest Service is meeting the conservation objectives that were established for it in the beginning?
That's a hard question to answer, because in many ways I'm pretty much of a conservative. I think that the Forest Service is meeting the objectives in resource management much better than we were able to meet the objectives during my career in the Forest Service, no matter where I was. Now that is due to any number of things, one of which is adequate manpower. When I mention adequate manpower, I mean just the manpower that's necessary to do the job, that is actually needed.
Sometimes I worry now. For instance, I would say that here on the Santa Fe National Forest today, the total personnel is probably greater than the entire Regional Office and five or six National Forests in 1909 in Region 2. I have no knowledge of whether they are all needed, or whether they are not, but sometimes you get people stumbling over each other, and more paper.
I've heard some criticism, from some people, that the Forest Service may be over-staffed to some extent. I received today a bulletin from the Beaverhead National Forest in Region 1. It's a sizeable Forest of some 2,135,000 acres. The number of personnel in the Supervisor's Office in Billings, Montana, is 38, according to their statistics. When I was Supervisor, there was myself, A. D. Sandvig, an Administrative Assistant, and two clerks. That's a considerable increase in a period of 30 years. They have eight Ranger Districts there now, and we had six. Their annual budget is $1,320,000; we were lucky to have $60,000.
But of course there are more activities.
I hope that the programs are useful programs, and not because money is easier to get nowadays than it was in those days; of course, the money isn't as good now, either.
A dollar won't go near the distance that it did in those days.
It won't go over a fourth as far. In 1932 an allotment of $100,000 would have to be at least $400,000 now to do the same job.
But we have gone from the custodial stage to the managerial. In fact, you were instrumental in making that transition right down here in this Region. And all of that means more work, more programs.
That's true. I'm not criticizing the need for additional people to do the job, because we needed it very badly in those days. We didn't do the job because we didn't have the power to do it. But it's a contrast well worth thinking about.
We haven't mentioned the recreational part of the job. That has grown tremendously.
Of course Recreation is only in its beginning right now. We had a very inadequate recreation policy all the time that I was in the Forest Service. It was an orphan child in Management. After the CCCs came in they built some simple improvements, camp grounds, things of that sort, but we didn't have any real forward-looking recreational program. We weren't developing recreation, as it's being developed today.
The Forest Service is going to face a lot more responsibilities in the recreation field than they've ever faced before. People have transportation; they have highways; they have leisure time; and they're going to use these National Forest areas to the very highest degree in the future. They've got to enlarge our facilities, even at the expense of some other activities.
Alva, I don't want to tire you out, but I would like to take advantage of your long experience in tracing the development of improvements on the Forests. What they were when you started back almost at the beginning, up through the years.
Well, of course, when I went into the Forest Service we didn't have much in the way of communications. We were in the stage of building telephone lines, many of which were stretched through the woods, on open insulators, so the wires wouldn't break in the wintertime. In 1909, the Supervisor of the old Hayden National Forest had no connection whatsoever with but one District Ranger, by telephone. My first Ranger District had a telephone line, three miles, that went down to the headquarters of the Hunter, Castile, and Hunter ranch, and they were on the main line from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Rawlins, on the Union Pacific Railroad. If I had an emergency I could call the ranch and they could get communications through on this main line. They had telephone attachments to the main line.
As to living improvements, my first Ranger Station was a one-room log cabin, that was partially divided by rough boards, one end of which I used for cooking and eating, and one end to sleep and live in, neither being very large. Heated by wood stoves; no sanitation except a "Chick Sales" about 200 yards from the house. An old log barn and corral.
No pasture; no pasture fence. Had to hobble our horses. There was a bunch of barbed wire there and I decided I'd have me a pasture there if I had to work nights to do it. I cut aspen posts and dug post holes at odd times and strung the wire by pullin', backin' up and pullin' on the spool. I got me a three-wire fence around about 60 acres. Had no road in to it; the only way I could get hay into the barn was to wait until the big crick froze up and then borrow a sled from a neighboring rancher and haul the hay up over the ice.
I built a half-mile of road by pick and shovel at odd times during the summer. I had plenty of time to work because I was abatchin' and all alone. When I'd come in from the field along about 4:00 or 5:00 or 6 o'clock in the evening, I'd get out and work until 8:00 or 9 o'clock to get that road through, so I could get out with a wagon, at least.
We had no roads anywhere except the roads that were constructed by logging operations, or settlers, but there were quite a few trails, such as they were. They weren't particularly on grade. That's about the size of the improvements we started out with.
What salary did you get for that kind of work?
I got $75.00 a month to start with. I furnished my own horses and I was lucky; the Government decided to pay half the feed bill in the wintertime, half the hay and grain bill for my horses. They paid half of it. I had to have at least three head of horses because I had to have a pack horse. I could ride two saddle horses down.
It might be of interest to know that the first bath tub in a ranger dwelling in Region 2 was placed in the Carnero Ranger Station on the Carnero District about 1916 and had a spring piped into the house by gravity. We hooked it up ourselves and put the bathtub in and heated the water over a wood fire in the stove. You know I had one of those businesses where the water ran through to the tank. That was the first bathtub that the Forest Service had in Region 2 in a Ranger Station. I bought it from Montgomery Ward.
You bought it yourself?
No, I talked the Regional Office into paying for it; it cost about $25.00, as I remember.
I'll tell you an experience; you can cut it out of the tape if you want to.
In 1910, I asked the Supervisor if he would detail me over to the sheep range so I could get some knowledge of the sheep business this was on the Hayden and in those days there were no allotments. Sheep came in, first come, first served. They'd back up and fight the others off. There were too many sheep anyway. We had open range for 18,000 head in Colorado, which was in settlement of a controversy between the cattlemen and the sheepmen, in which the cattlemen had a deadline along the Colorado-Wyoming border. It wouldn't permit any sheep to come into Colorado.
They gave up this high country and traded it for some low country in Wyoming. This Snake River comes down and winds back and forth across the border of the two States. So I had the job ahead of me, after the sheep had been counted, and they'd trailed 'em back to the country, to allot these sheep in Colorado. It was virgin range; never'd been used by sheep or cattle either one. Too high for cattle and they didn't have to have it, and the sheep had been prevented from using it on account of the deadline.
Well, anyway, there were some habits going on in that country in those days; prostitutes used to come down out of Rawlins, Wyoming, and from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and come up on this sheep range during the summer time, in search of work. The Advisory Board of the Carbon County Woolgrowers' Association had asked the Supervisor to see if Forest Rangers couldn't run these women off the National Forests, or prevent them from coming in there, or prevent them from staying after they did get in. They agreed the sheepmen agreed that they'd pay any fines, or defend anyone who might get into trouble.
So we got our instructions from the Supervisor to run these women out of there. Well, the first experience I had was in a little old mining camp, abandoned mining town I can't recall the name right now; there was no one living there. There were six girls from Rawlins that had come down and established their headquarters in this mining camp. Well, we didn't have any trouble movin' them out and startin' 'em on their way back to Rawlins. And different members of the Service at different places, every time they'd find one of these girls in a camp, why they'd run her off.
Well, anyway, there was a couple of fellows that brought in two women from Steamboat Springs. They came up there with a pack horse; walked in, with their junk on this pack horse. They got over on a patented mining claim called The Independence. That was about half-way between Hog Park and where I was camped over in Whiskey Park in Colorado.
The Ranger, Joe Ames, from Hog Park, came in to my camp one night and said, "These women are operating at the Independence Mine." We decided we'd go over and move 'em out. The next morning we left about half-past five, and had eight or ten miles to ride. We got to the Independence Mine and there was a whole crowd of sheepherders and camp movers already collected, probably a dozen, maybe more. Joe said, "I'll go down to the shaft house and you go up to the cabin" they had a cabin, a one-room log cabin one of the girls was operating in the shaft house, and one was operating in the cabin.
So I went up to the cabin and knocked on the door. It had one of these latches that you can lock on the inside and a string is run through a hole in the door. Unless you had a hold of the string you couldn't open the latch. The string was pulled in, so there wasn't any way of gettin' in. So I knocked on the door; somebody asked who it was, and I told 'em it was the Forest Ranger. Well, he proceeded to tell me to go to places where I didn't intend to go.
I took quite a little of that for a while, then I got a little bit angry, and I hit that door with my shoulder and knocked the latch off. The guy was standing at the foot of the bed and the girl was in bed with this Mexican. Well, as I went in, I swung on him with my right hand and hit him on the jaw and knocked him over on the bed, and he bounced back, and I let him have it again. He threw his hands up over his face and commenced beggin' for mercy. About this time the Mexican went by me, but I don't remember seein' him go by. About then I heard a shot.
Well, there was a bootlegger operating there, too. He had brought up a five gallon jug of whiskey and he was sellin' whiskey to these sheepherders. They were down the hill quite a little ways. When I heard this shot I thought somebody was shootin' at Joe Ames. So I ran out the door, and as I got outside, I heard a second shot, and there was a Navajo Indian sheepherder who was shootin' at a white camp mover. He was just missin' him, hittin' behind the heels, and the camp mover was goin' down that hill just as fast as he could go. He shot another time, and like a darn fool, I ran up to this Navajo Indian and told him to give me the gun, and he turned it over to me. Which I wouldn't do again. About that time, why practically all the sheepherders and camp movers had run for their horses and were leavin'.
The first thing we knew, Joe and I, we had two girls and their two boy friends, and the bootlegger, and what he had left of his five gallon jug of whiskey. We gathered 'em up at the cabin and told them that they had to leave. Well, they said, they didn't know where their pack horse was. Well, we told them we'd seen the pack horse as we came in; we'd get him for them, and bring them down. I stood there and took the worst cursing that I ever took in my life, from one of those women. I stood there hopin' that one of those men would say something so I could slam him. But he didn't; he kept his mouth shut.
Well, we went up and got the horse, and loaded 'em up and started 'em on the trail. It was 60 miles to Encampment, Wyoming, all of 'em walkin' and leadin' the pack horse with their junk on it. That was the last we heard of 'em until they got down to Encampment where they tried to get a complaint of assault and battery against me, but the Justice of the Peace wouldn't issue the warrant. Well, that was a true experience.
Were you carrying a gun?
No, no, I didn't carry a gun; I never carried a gun in the Forest Service because I didn't want to be in a position of havin' somebody shoot me, and have a gun on me. It's a good idea.
I made the original allotments in that Long Park area in 1910. I talked to the Supervisor of the Routt in 1948. We made a trip up through Region 2 looking at some of their ranges, and he said essentially those boundaries were holding to this day, although they've made some reductions in the number of sheep in the allotments.
On what basis did you make those original boundaries?
I had no basis at all. It was virgin country and I directed each band of sheep to a certain locality, a certain area. I set tentative lines and then adjusted them as the season went by. I rode continually in there and if one fellow had more range than he actually needed, and another fellow was short, why, we'd adjust the lines. That was the only way I had of doing it. I had no inventory on forage, or anything of that sort. It was just a matter of "cut and fit"; that was all I could do. I had 18,000 head to allot. I don't remember how many bands there were; a band was about 1200 head.
* * * * * * * * * *
From the Use Book - 1906. "Rangers' cabins should be located where there is enough agricultural land for a small field and suitable pasture land for a few head of horses and a cow or two, in order to decrease the often excessive expense for vegetables and feed."
* * * * * * * * * *
Now those allocations came from the Washington Office, didn't they?
In those days, which by the way was a good many years ago, the Washington Office issued each Forest Reserve Supervisor an authorization to graze so many livestock; so many cattle and so many sheep, and also the periods in which livestock would be grazed. Of course, after the Regions were organized, then the Regional Forester was given that authority, and then in later years the authorizations were done away with.
Well, I've seen those old authorizations and I wondered, Alva, on what basis they were made?
The basis was your annual grazing report; you made a recommendation in your annual grazing report. The Supervisor made this recommendation as to the number he could graze by Ranger Districts; so many sheep, so many cattle, and for certain periods. That was part of the recommendation. If the Forester's office disagreed with that, they'd come back and question you on it. But they didn't have much basis to do much questioning because their field men were the ones making the recommendations.
You see, I knew the Forest Service from about 1898: not the Forest Service then, but the General Land Office.
They first sent Old Charley Baroney up to administer what they called the Yellowstone Forest Reserve, which was a considerable area that was withdrawn, adjoining the Yellowstone National Park, by President Harrison. He was paid $5.00 a day for each day he worked, and 50 cents a day to hire a saddle horse. He lived at our ranch while he was up there. He was from Evanston; he was a political appointee by Senator Clark of Wyoming. He was only there two summers. Then there were different ones came in. It was only a summer job, just during the summertime.
Then along about 1906 or '07, Gifford Pinchot came through that country, and that's when I first met him. I worked under Gifford Pinchot from May of 1909 until the first of January 1910; that's when he was kicked out in the Ballenger dispute. I cried like a boy. He was a very inspiring man.
Mr. Walter J. Caserta was the Supervisor of these lands for the S.C.S. at the time of their conversion to the Forest Service. In an interview at his home in Albuquerque, Jim tells a little bit about the LU lands.
Now, Jim, when did you enter Government service?
I came into Government service as an employee of the National Park Service on July 4, 1933. I went to work in Palo Duro Canyon, about 14 miles east of the little town of Canyon, Texas, and spent four and a half years in the Canyon with the Park Service. Because of acquisition difficulties, they shut 'er down. This they did, oh, in about the early part of '37. This made it necessary to find another job or to transfer from the Park Service.
Well, I had married an Amarillo girl and we had a home there, and jobs were looking a little better. The Depression was more or less stabilized. People were still on relief, but it was an orderly procedure rather than the chaotic sort of thing such as it was in 1933. We decided we'd stay in Amarillo, so that made it necessary to find another job.
Well, about that time the Bureau of Agricultural Economics was fathering, or sponsoring, a program of the Federal Government known as the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, sponsored incidentally by our representative in Amarillo, Marvin Jones. He, with Senator Bankhead of Alabama, having passed the bill to retire lands that were submarginal for farming of any nature; preferably retiring these lands to grasslands and some timber, where it was possible to grow timber. Of course in the Plains, I don't think the Lord ever intended timber to grow there. There was considerable research during the Shelterbelt days by the United States Forest Service, and there wasn't very much enthusiasm shown, either by the Forest Service or by the botanists employed to make the study.
Norman Buck was my first boss in the Department of Agriculture. His title was Project Manager of no other place than Buffalo Lake in Texas. Of course, Norm is a very fine fellow and a very intelligent person, and he didn't last very long as Project Manager. He became Assistant Chief as Land Economist in a Division that was entitled the Division of Project Organization. This Division planned for the beneficial use of submarginal lands, including the structural planning as well as the vegetative planning. This Division is the one that I was successful in finally getting a job as a Junior Civil Engineer.
With Norm, and some of the people that later moved to Albuquerque, I was responsible for handling recreational facilities for submarginal lands. My branch at that time was headed by a landscape architect by the name of William Anderson. His name still appears on some of the old drawings occasionally, site plans, and what-not. We had considerably money in those days, kinda like JCC today, and we spent it. Ride along in an automobile and say, "Put a dam here," or "Put a dam there." Wherever there was a gully or a canyon, it was planned to put a dam. However, with ten million dollars and a lot of land vegetative resources including stabilizing sand dunes and whatnot, there wasn't very much left for recreation.
One of the things I remember was planning a recreational area with Clancy Waneka that's a friend of yours, Ed.
In a place called Hope, New Mexico. I worked on Hope with Clancy and we had $1,000 to build a recreation area. Well, after spending the night with an old character by the name of White over in Hope, and gettin' up early the next morning and gettin' a pail of water out of the irrigation ditch, after movin' the manure off the water surface, we got a pail of water and washed our face and hands. We didn't dare drink it. The only other available liquids there was Bourbon whiskey and beer. We had a very fine breakfast with Mr. White. This was in July but we had deer meat. He called it "summer beef." Where he got it, I don't know, except that it was a very delightful breakfast, grits and "summer beef."
Well, Clancy and I decided it was about time to do something for those people, they couldn't afford to drink whiskey all the time, and there wasn't enough beer in the country, no ice to keep it cold, and hot beer is a very unpleasant beverage. We looked around and asked about water. Old Man White said, "Yeah, there's a well around here; it's about 12 miles off," and he said, "The thing's over a thousand feet deep."
Right away Clancy's eyes lit up; so did mine. We had a thousand dollars, and we were thinking very seriously of the possibility of people at Hope gathering around a well an' bein' able to talk, or sit down, and get a pitcher full of nice cool water. An unusual drink; I don't recommend it, but it is an unusual drink. So we decided that we were gonna make a try for a water well.
We talked to some local drillers and found out that water was available at right about 800 or 900 feet and there was a possibility that it would cost about a dollar a foot. That left us with enough money for possibly a windmill or a hand pump, although I don't know who would've pumped a 1,000 foot deep well by hand. But we were thinking that way. We were a couple of young squirts and just full of ideas. The only thing I think was successful about Hope was the water well; it did come in at about five gallons a minute. We were successful in convincing the Washington Office that this was a good expenditure of recreational funds. We got approval and put 'er in finally, and put in a couple of picnic tables which you could build for about $10.00 apiece in those days. In other words, we set Hope up.
Well, when we got back we found out that the magic wand of Congress waved, and we had ten million dollars to build dams with. Ten million dollars; that's a lot of money. So we started the dam projects, and incidentally in that deal such places as Tule Lake, Buffalo Lake, Lake Marvin, which the Forest Service still has; McClellan Lake, another Forest Service endeavor, Wolf Creek Lake; one over near Clovis which never did jell, but we had the money and did plan it, but for some reason or other, it didn't go through. There's another one up by Dalhart, Rio Blanco Lake, and we had plans for about seven or eight more scattered around the Panhandle of Texas. The people we used in construction were largely from WPA: we had as many as 5,000 WPA men on our own payroll, BAE payroll, at one time working on these recreational projects, identified usually as lake projects.
Now while this was going on, Norm Buck had other duties, too, that he was following up, the stabilization of wild lands. Have you ever been in a dust storm?
Well, you know what wild lands are. The land takes off; today it may have a cover of soil, silt, sandy land, from four to six feet deep. Tomorrow, after a good storm, it may not have any. It may be right down to where you can see the old plow furrows, where the plow point had cut in and left a little grove in the hardpan below. Well, this I saw.
One of the places I saw, that was Manhattan, Kansas. Clancy and I used to travel a lot together and that was one of our favorite places to visit. An old boy, George Atwood, was the Project Manager there. He had lost one of his hands, I imagine during World War I. He was an ex-soldier and quite a pleasant sort of fellow and an interesting man to meet.
They had a dry summer when we went through Manhattan, Kansas, and alongside the river there was a cemetery. We bought cemeteries; we bought cities and towns. LaBajada is one of them, right out here close at hand in case you want a reference on that. Another one was up here near Mora, in the Indian lands south of Mora. But this one at Manhattan was unusual since the cemetery had a wrought-iron fence and swinging entrance gates, the posts of which were cast-iron and they had little round black balls on top of them. Well, the first time I visited the place, all I saw was about a foot of post and a black ball on top of the ground.
Later on I went up to see what George was doing; he was always proud of the fact that on one side of the river he had Democrats, and on the other side he had Republicans. And the cemetery was on the Republican side and they had to wait until they had a dust storm to bury the Republicans and preserving those guys was really something. I think it was two years before I made another visit with George. We drove through the gates of that cemetery. It had been uncovered. Those posts were fully six feet high; that much soil had moved in two years.
That was the type of project that started the Land Utilization program which the Forest Service is reasonably proud of; rightly so, too. Establishing and tying down land of that nature is quite a job for any Federal agency, or anybody. The Lord was having a little trouble with it Himself at that time; it was moving around pretty fast for Him. So I think we should be reasonably proud of it.
These things had a very strange beginning. Mr. Roosevelt, in his wisdom as President, decided that everybody should benefit from Federal Aid, and in this I support him fully. If you can't make a living on a farm you either stay there and starve to death, or somebody else moves you off, because you don't have money enough to move off by yourself. I have some friends, still alive, that can't move now, as good as times are now, they still can't move; they're out there just dyin' slowly of starvation.
Most of the people that we moved during that era were sent to a place called Ropesville, south of Lubbock, in Texas. They were moved off of the land; lock, stock, and barrel. The Federal Government paid them for the land, advanced them loans to make a new start in this irrigation belt near Ropesville, and we took the land and tried to do something with it.
We had a very normal mechanical method of leveling off the land so we could get on it and revegetate it with the native grasses, which history had shown were belly-deep to a tall horse. They were all reported to be that high, and incidentally, they were the coarser grasses, bluestems, the andrapogans. These were the grasses we were more interested in reestablishing. Again, my responsibility was largely Recreation, but everybody was supposed to be a conservationist and everybody learned something about vegetation, whether it was trees, grass, or whatnot.
Steps were taken first to prepare a proper seedbed, which meant leveling the land. We had an employee in the Forest Service, up to a few years ago, by the name of Joe Armstrong, who accidentally found a very good method of leveling land. Everybody forgot it, but I want to record it to you so that someday somebody is gonna pick it up again, because it really worked.
Joe got caught out in a dust storm one night, while he was workin' a one-way, goin' round and round on top of a sand dune, trying to level the thing off by throwin' the furrows this one way, continually movin' 'em on, levelin' the land. Well, he found out as he made a round, this terrific wind blowin' in 45, 50, maybe even 60-mile gusts, was takin' this soil that he had stirred up and movin' it over, and when it got off that elevation it dropped.
Joe was a pretty bright man, one of the brightest I've ever known in agriculture. He recorded this. It was picked up immediately by the people in the LU program at that time and used as a method, an application of a scientific approach to land leveling. So our program was speeded up at least two years by using Joe Armstrong's uncomfortable period of two or three hours during that dust storm.
We finally leveled enough land in Dallam County to start a planting. We couldn't buy grass seed; nobody harvested grass seed in those days. You killed it so you could plant the land in wheat. The only thing we could find was some fool had harvested Amaranthus, pigweed, and we had enough pigweed to sow probably three or four sections of land. Now, this sounds perfectly ridiculous, but in those days of panic you did anything you could. You couldn't plant ryegrass; the wind would come along and blow it out. Amaranthus seed had some sort of ability to stick to the soil, as they say.
We had a good firm seedbed up there, since Joe had wallowed around on the thing for quite a while, while the wind was taking the loose stuff off and it left a hardpan. Well, we got this stuff in the ground and, one of those unusual occurrences it rained, and we got a good stand of pigweed, and that was the basis of a nurse crop. Later on we started to harvesting our own grass seed and made some plantings that proved quite successful as the years went on. Of course, I'm going over a period of development of maybe three or four or five years, and very quickly, but that was the start of the thing.
Meanwhile, there was a little agency that had just been created by an Act of Congress, known as the Soil Erosion Service, headed up in the area that I worked in by Dr. Howard Finnell, a very unusual sort of person. He was about as far from appearing to be a doctor as you could possibly imagine. He was a little, short fellow, with red hair, very jolly, but an extremely capable man. While he was creating a cadre of soil erosion specialists, as they were called, he was watching us very carefully, too, wallowing around in the dry sand and plantin' seed an' prayin' for rain.
Incidentally, in that Panhandle of Texas, if you don't get any rain between the period of November and April, well, you don't get any rain. You may get a thunder shower every 50 miles or something like that, but you don't get general rains.
He watched us fight the battle all during the summer, and sit down and fold our hands from November 'till April, waitin' for snow or rain, or whatever might happen. Usually it was wind.
The Land Utilization Program under the Soil Conservation Service led toward the completion of the developmental stages of the lands and the placing into the management stages, for utilization by the general public. The six lakes were completed in 1939 and the early 1940s, and opened to the public for recreational use. I was the first Supervisor of these recreational projects for the Soil Conservation Service in what was then known as Region 6. My headquarters were located at Amarillo, Lubbock, Buffalo Lake, and then finally back to Amarillo.
Once, during a flood, they telegraphed me to advise me of the fact that I was having floods at three lakes simultaneously. The telegram there was no station at Buffalo Lake was sent to Hereford and then mailed on to me at Buffalo Lake. It took three days for that telegram to get from Hereford to Buffalo Lake, 15 miles. What happened we don't know, except that the railroads were inundated during the flood. This was the first flood waters from any of these lakes. The results of that storm in 1941 damaged the spillways of four out of six of the lakes.
Dr. H. H. Bennett, of the Soil Conservation Service, Washington Chief, dedicated that Buffalo Lake; I think it was the Fourth of July 1941. There were 50,000 people on hand for that dedication. Doc was a pretty good character, a very fine man. He liked to associate with his employees. He found he had a better insight as to what was going on. He liked to sail, so that night, after a little mosquito bite preventative and things like that, I had the honor of taking him for a sail in Howard Finnell's sailboat.
Doc Bennett was dressed in a silk hat and tails. Caserta had on his very best, which was a tuxedo which was all I could afford. We got quite a kick out of it. Doc wanted to stand up and walk from one end of the boat to the other, and I knew good 'n well if he did, he'd fall overboard, because it was all I could do to sit down and stay in the boat. We finally made it back into shore and went back to the group again. Doc never forgot that because on a future broadcast, oh, some several months later, he mentioned the 50,000 people who came out to Buffalo Lake to watch him go sailing. Actually, it wasn't; it was to dedicate the Lake, but Doc remembered the sailing I think more than the dedication.
World War II came along pretty soon after the Soil Conservation Service took over the administration of these areas, and with it the problems and the aids that the LU program were able to furnish our Government. We did furnish quite a bit of grass seed, necessary for revegetation or vegetation, of airfields, parade grounds, and other areas where the soil had been disturbed and considerable problems had been involved by dust and erosion. We also furnished land for bombing ranges.
The Texline section, now known as the Kiowa District, was a bombing range during World War II; in fact, you may still be able to find some .50 caliber machine gun bullets, and occasionally a three-inch recoilless rifle shell, which was being experimented with as a weapon for the B-17. As I understand it, the thing fired through a hatch in the bottom of a B-17, and it was supposed to be a part of low-level strafing of enemy lines. What success was had with this, we don't know, except quite frequently we heard the double explosion of the recoilless rifle going off and the shell exploding when it hit one of our windmills on the LU land, or the ground.
There was another contribution the LU Program made at that time that we think would be interesting to people in this generation. The longest runway in the world, then, was constructed at Dalhart out of caliche mined on the Rita Blanco Lake Project which was right inside of the city limits of the City of Dalhart, Out of that mining operation on this LU Project, we sold caliche to the Army's contractor buildin' this long runway. We sold (it was worth three cents a cubic yard) I don't know how many million yards. I know it was considerably over three million cubic yards that were mined out of there to fill that runway.
Another thing was fence-cutting. This is a trespass nowadays, but during World War II, I'd visit this project on my monthly or biweekly visits. Incidentally, gasoline was rationed, so Government employees didn't run around the country with license to buy gas at every filling station. We got coupons, from the local rationing board, at that. But anyway, when I got a couple of coupons, I'd run up to Dalhart to see how the lake was doing and see what was goin' on at the other project up there, the Texline Project. I'd find every panel of fence for a mile, maybe, cut, for no earthly reason that I could see except that somebody was drivin' through.
I had a friend in the Post Engineers on the Air Base, and I got to talkin' to him about it and, oh yeah, he had the answer for that. That was the Provost Marshal's crew; they just cut the fence to go in and look for downed gliders. Well, this base was a B-17 airplane base, but it also had a glider training school in conjunction with it. The fact is that one of the schools was on the south end of the Texline Project and the other was off over west of town.
They'd yank these gliders off of the ground with a B-17; sometimes two or three of them at a time, on a long nylon rope. Then they'd cut the glider loose from the airplane and drop the rope; incidentally that's how we accumulated our stock of nylon rope. These gliders were absolutely helpless, at the whim of the winds. They may be blown as far as 50 miles away, or they may come right straight nose-down. If the crew didn't call in, they were considered lost. If they did call in, they sometimes told 'em to just leave the glider and come on in the best way you know how. They was rather unusual, but for the winning of a war, I guess things like that are expected.
Well, anyway, when a glider would go down within sight of the field, they would go out and look for it, and this is the reason they cut the fence in every panel. Everybody that had a truck and wanted through, in place of goin' where the fence had been cut by the first crew through, they'd cut the panel right in front of 'em an' go on through.
Well, I knew the CO pretty well, too, and about that time we formulated the first cooperative agreement: The Military had the authority to cut the fence whenever and wherever they pleased, provided the Military repaired the fence wherever the cut it, or wherever they found it down. That relieved me of a considerable amount of maintenance work. And it's good policy for operating, even today. We still have rocket crews, you know, chasin' rockets around, and there's no telling how much fence they cut. That's all right; but let 'em fix it though. I don't know if we have such an agreement; maybe I ought to get a merit badge for that!
The War wore on; we wore down. The wind blew. There were no developments. You couldn't hire people to do development. You couldn't hire people to harvest. They were all on a full standby basis. What help we got, we got from the Military. We couldn't use prisoners, although there were hundreds of German prisoners on the Dalhart area, and literally thousands of Italian prisoners around the Buffalo Lake area. None of these was available for use by another governmental agency, but they were available to the farmers, and they did a pretty good job of utilizing the prisoners.
We had some wonderful wheat crops. The fact is, that 1941 rain some of the drainage was done by these prisoners, pick 'n shovel work resulted in one of the finest wheat crops we've ever had in that country. So, although we didn't get to use 'em, some good results were had.
About 1943 or '44, Ed Grest was Chief of the LU Program in the SCS. After Cap Clayton went to the Jap Relocation Camp in Tule, California, Ed wound up being the LU Chief. He met Leo Wortman and I out in the field and apprised us of the fact that things looked pretty rough; there was gonna be an entire reorganization of the Department of Agriculture, as soon as things slowed down, and there'd be some drastic changes. Well, we braced ourselves for a shock, but fortunately, there was no big reorganization. President Roosevelt died and Harry Truman succeeded him and we finally won the War on both sides of the ocean, and we felt pretty good about what the future would hold in store for us. But again, floods kept naggin' at us.
Every time the stockmen had a meeting, the stockmen wanted all this good grassland back into private ownership. We were just livin' from day to day, so to speak, 'cause we didn't know when some cowboy was gonna ride up an' say, "This is mine, by an Act of Congress," and it almost occurred, several times. A very rough period, and the elements didn't help any. We began to have terrific rains again. In fact, we lost the McClellan spillway in '45, '46, and again in '51. Wolf Creek washed out down to creek bottom.
The policy of, I guess you would say, a give-away program was started. The section of the Act that created the project, in which any other sub-division of Government could assume custody of these projects, I think it's Section 33, Title 3, of the Bankhead-Jones Act, was put into effect. That's when we started disposing of projects.
The first one, of course, was the one that gave us the worst headache. Now these things aren't done overnight. LU had their share of slow administrative work in transfer of lands. I started negotiating with Ochiltree County, which resulted in the final disposition of Wolf Creek to that County, and Tule Lake to Swisher County in Texas, which resulted finally in the disposition of that one to the County. And Dalhart to the City of Dalhart; Rita Blanca Lake, to be exact. We were working along with Buffalo Lake to Randall County in Texas. This was in the Fifties; '51, '52.
All of a sudden, Ed Grest called a hurry-up meeting of Wortman and Caserta. We met, strangely enough, of all places, in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, a very fine town to hold a meeting, in the old hotel over there. The floors all sloped towards the middle; you could get in bed on the window side and wake up in the morning up against the door! Anyway, it was a good convention town dry as a bone, too not a drop of liquor within 500 miles in any direction. We discussed the future.
Ed said, "I was approached the other day by the Forest Service, who wanted to know, if the President placed LU lands under the Forest Service, I would go along with the lands. Now you two guys have got a decision to make, too, because they informed me that such key people as the Service at the present time felt were necessary to implement the transfer, would be held by the Forest Service. What do you guys want to do?"
Well, Leo was a little reluctant to answer. I had followed Ed around quite a bit. In fact, I had followed Ed ever since I went to work on this LU Program. We became friends in the early days on these field inspections. You know these Washington inspectors that come out and harass the young Rangers now? They used to not be like that; they used to be nice people. The fact is I've got some very fine friends in Washington. But Ed, he came out and said, "Oh, I'm followin' the land." So I said, "OK; I'll follow you." Still no decision from Leo. So things rocked along.
One day, I was in my little cubbyhole in Amarillo and three gentlemen walked in and introduced themselves, one of them by the name of McCutchen, another one by the name of Davis, and another one, a big fat roly-poly Irishman by the name of Monighan. This man, McCutchen, led the group. He came in, stuckout his hand and says, "Caserta, welcome to the Forest Service!" Well Brother!
Of course I had been working for the SCS and these things I know are rather mysterious in the way they go on, but, believe me, at that time I had about 20 years of Federal service, and that was the first time in 20 years that anybody had welcomed me anywhere, let alone to the Forest Service. So, I thanked him. I guess he could see the amazement. He says, "There's nuthin' in the world to worry about," he says, "We just came over here to tell you that you are still holdin' your present position, and your responsibilities are the same, except now you're gonna be paid by the Forest Service." I says, "Well, is this good or bad?" "Well," he says, "You make up your own mind." I said, "Well, I will, in 20 or 30 years."
Well, a couple of weeks later, sure 'nuff, the phone rang: "Get yourself up to Dalhart and notify your people to be in; we want to discuss organization, and the integration from one agency to another." That meeting gave me an insight into the Forest Service that I don't think very many people get. Even if you're a Supervisor, there's always a shadow of a doubt that there isn't some character that can take you over. So you'd better be sharp and you'd better be on your toes. I felt like I had a friend, a guy that knew the score. So, from there we went around through all the areas and about the only thing I can say is we had too many tools, too many people, too much land, too much of everything; get rid of it! And this I proceeded to do. I was still Supervisor over there, but Supervisor of LU Projects. This was an arrangement for convenience of integration.
When you were buying this land that became the LU land, what was the feeling of the people in the countryside: were they very much for it, or were they agin' it?
Well, there were two schools of thought on the thing. The people that owned the land, of course, welcomed any sort of buyer. The people that had elected to remain, and the lesser Governmental, or County, authorities particularly, were worried about the effect on the tax rolls. People that elected to remain were the ones that got the benefit, as did the County. The people that remained were among the preferred applicants for grazing privileges on the land. And very fortunately, we normally had enough grazing to take care of them. Our grazing was based on land, not the number of head. We never did go on that premise that a man had established preference for so many head.
Ours was an established preference for so many acres, and that was adjusted annually to what forage there was available. It's still a good premise to handle grazing. There's no use puttin' 1,000 cattle on a hundred sections if you can't raise 500 on it. It doesn't make sense. If it was capable of supportin' 500, we ran 500. If it was ten, we ran ten. And they had no choice.
Oil was found on much of the lands, and of course the Counties benefited from the 25 percent in lieu of taxes. Our 25 percent was solely restricted to school and road funds. You wouldn't believe it, but I've gotten up before County Commissioners' Courts and asked 'em, "What did you do with that money last year; show me your books where you spent it for roads and schools. I just drove over some of the roads." We had the authority to face 'em and do that. Of course, you don't dare do that now. But we didn't care; what did we have to lose? Just a job!
Sometimes the District Judge would get a little bit red in the face and say, "Well, next year it will be a different story." Which meant, if he was reelected, because there was a reporter in the audience listenin' to my questions. "What did you do with that money?" Don't try it now, of course; it wouldn't be good politics. But in those days it was very effective.
In the latter years, during the Eisenhower administration particularly, not as a national effort but as a local effort, the cattlemen were quite anxious to get this land back, and they were told by their own Counties, "You can't have it; we're gonna oppose you." And that's the reason why the LU Program has continued. We made a reputation, locally, of good land managers.
Our policy of use of only the available grazing made sense to them. Our fees, compared to National Forest fees, were exorbitant. When I left, we were gettin' a dollar and a half per animal unit month for grazing. And of this, 25 percent went to the county. So they wanted us to be good land managers.
You've been with the LU lands right from the beginning; saw them developed; saw them transferred from one agency to another, and finally end up in the Forest Service. Do you think they still have a place in our economy?
I think the goal of retiring the land to a more beneficial use has been achieved. Certainly it's been stabilized. I don't think any of the LU lands have contributed to dust storms; they have certainly contributed a lot to the local economy, stabilized it. They even participated for a very short time to the Soil Bank. I think they're in a good agency, an agency that is experienced in managing resources, and I think they should remain in an agency that has knowledge of resource management. I think the Program should be kept on the books. I don't think the law should be repealed, or ignored.
I think in time we're gonna have more wild lands. In fact, right at the present time I can name several areas, including the bombing range at Clovis, or the Cannon Air Force Base. Those lands are just as wild as they can be; live sand dunes. Don't you think the agency to re-establish those lands into productive use should be the Forest Service, through the LU Program?
Of course, Congress has to appropriate money to acquire lands, but again I think we have Congressmen in whose memory the work of Congressman Marvin Jones who is still alive; he's now Chief Justice of the Court of Claims we've got Congressmen from the Texas Panhandle still around and still aware of the benefits of this Program. Certainly Sam Rayburn was aware of it. I know President Johnson is aware of it because he was very active with Marvin Jones and Sam Rayburn in settin' up the Program in the very beginning. Yes, I think the lands have become productive; I think the Program is a good one.
Now Hoyt, where were your early days spent? Your boyhood?
My boyhood was spent in Hale County, Texas. That's about 35 or 40 miles north of Lubbock, Texas. I was brought up on a ranch, a ranch and farm combination there in Hale County.
Where did you go to school?
Well, I spent two years at a teacher's college, West Texas State Teachers College, with the thought maybe of going into the teaching profession. Then I transferred and went to school at Texas Tech, and finished there at Texas Tech at Lubbock.
This transfer down there was a wise move because I went from the teaching profession into an agriculture profession. That seemed to fit the bill.
After I got out of there, I began working with the Government as a ranch planner and ranch organizer with the Soil Conservation Service. Later on I was transferred to the L. U. projects up at Dalhart in Dallam County, Texas, where I spent the next 11 years in developing, or attempting to develop that area that we had in the dust bowl days.
When did you start on that, Hoyt?
I started the work there myself in 1950. Prior to that, of course, there had been quite a little work done there. The biggest part of it had been in the seeding end of the deal. When I came there the development, that is, the fencing and watering and those kinds of things, were the major jobs to be done.
Incidentally, you might be interested in knowing where this location is. It's part of the old XIT Ranch. Maybe you recall, or have read in history, the three million acres in the northern, or northwestern part of the Panhandle was traded to a syndicate out of Chicago by the name of Snyder.
The Snyder Brothers built the capitol at Austin for three million acres of land. They later put a fence around it, the entire area. They made a slight mistake of something like 546,000 acres, that they got fenced in with their headquarters. The entire area was later broken down into such ranches as the F. B. Wyatts, the Matadores, et cetera. The ranches were further broken down into smaller divisions which were later sold out as farms or small ranches. By small ranches, meaning 5,000 or 10,000 acres, or some thing in that neighborhood. The headquarters for the northern division of the XIT Ranch was located at Buffalo Springs, a very large spring located something like four miles north of the old project headquarters.
Now the people that sold off these small ranches, of course, broke 'em up into what we might call a development area. They built a hotel away out in the boondocks and they would bring the Easterners out and put 'em up at the hotel. They'd wine 'em and dine 'em for two or three days, and then take 'em out and sell 'em a piece of land. The down payment on this land was just whatever they'd been able to determine they had in ready cash during the wining and dining. It might be $500 or a thousand, but they sold them the land.
People then began to move in there from back in Missouri, Pennsylvania, all those areas, and buy this land and put it in cultivation. Naturally, they were building their homes as economically as they could. Most all of them had basements under their homes, and I'll have an interesting story to tell you in a minute about the basements in some of those homes. They began to plow up this country and put it into cultivation; of course the land by nature is susceptible to blowing. All that is necessary for it to blow is for it to become bare and dry. A wind always blows, so you have a blowing situation on hand.
The cultivation started back there in about 1927 and 1928. They did pretty good with their farming the first year and made a good crop. in 1929 they made a good crop and got a pretty fair price for the commodity produced. And then the drought hit, and at the same time, the Depression came on. The cash they got for their crops was very small. Production was very low. Along in the early '30s, many of those people said, "To Hell with It," and got up and left.
Now when I say "got up and left" that's exactly what I mean. There were several of those old farm homes that had dinner settin' on the table. When I went there, you could find old homes that had dishes and plates on the table and dried pinto beans that had been cooked and left settin' on the table been settin' there all that time, see. Syrup pitcher with the syrup long since turned to sugar, still on the tables in those old homes there.
They'd moved out, went on back to Missouri, Pennsylvania, or wherever they might have come from, and turned the farm back to whoever was holding the mortgage on the land. In many cases that was the Federal Land Bank, and in other cases it was life insurance companies.
Many people have the impression that a lot of that land was bought by the Government against the will of the people, which isn't true. The people in that locality petitioned the Federal Government to buy this land in order to restore it to at least a stable condition, if not a productive condition. The land was bought, in many cases, from the Federal Land Bank by sending out a team of appraisers. They arrived at some fair price, and the Federal Government bought from the Federal Land Bank.
There were a few cases where the people were paid up sufficiently that the Government did buy from them. After many months of searching to locate the people, we'd find em back in Missouri, and Tennessee, and write to them and ask if they would like to sell their land and, if so, what they would like to have for it. It was surprising some of those people would write back and their letters were rather pathetic. They'd write back and say they'd like to sell their land, that would be the essence of the message, and wondered if $500 would be too much to ask for a section of land. Well, in those cases, the appraisers did go out to value the land and they would come up with probably $3.00, $4.00, maybe $5.00 an acre. Those people were reimbursed on that basis rather than the $500 that they thought was all that was due them.
Were you involved in that land acquisition program?
To a minor extent. My only involvement would be to locate the land and tell the people workin' in our Department the condition of the land. By that I mean whether it was hummocked to the extent that land leveling would be needed to bring it back to a productive state, or just the general physical topography of the land. Then of course, when any appraisers came around I would naturally act as a guide to take them to the land, to that particular block of land.
Then you were a field man?
I was a field man strictly, yes sir. As these people sold out their land to the Federal Government, they, in many cases, relinquished all mineral rights to it. Some few did hold their mineral rights. On the particular tract of land where the headquarters buildings used to stand, there on the old Texline project, that block of ground was held for mineral purposes. In latter years, those people were able to realize a considerable sum of money, up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in mineral leases for this land. They had sold the land to the Government, but they retained the mineral rights. So they were able to at least realize quite a sum of money from their lands from mineral rights.
Did that happen on many of those L. U. lands?
Not too many. The other L. U. lands didn't have as much mineral development; that is, oil and gas, I mean when I speak of minerals. They were so located that there wasn't too much oil and gas activity in that area. As you know, in that Panhandle around Pampa and up in there, there's lots of oil and gas activity. We were only a few miles west of there, so some of them did realize quite a little bit from their mineral rights.
After this land had been acquired of course it went on for several years naturally the first thing the people wanted to see, after the Government bought a section of land, the next day they wanted to see grass growin' on it. As a result, we did a lot of emergency tilling by using the old LO type tractor and the free-bottom lister [a plow with a double moldboard], as it was commonly called; a buster that throws up a large bed.
A peculiar incident happened one year there, when we were experiencing quite severe dust storms. I had three men on those LO tractors, up on a particular section of ground, northwest from the compound office. They were there simply to emergency-till, bust it up, clod it up, to try to keep it from blowin'. They were going around the section of land instead of straight up through it; they were goin' around the outside area as though you were using a turning plow or a breaking plow, or something like that.
The dust became dark enough that those men became lost in their sense of direction. Time to quit and they stopped at a corner which they thought was the southeast corner of the of the section. In reality, they were at the northwest corner. They started walking what they thought was towards the office. They walked for about three miles and wound up in a grove of trees. When they got to this grove of trees they realized where they were. So they just sat down and made camp right there in the trees that night and waited until the next morning, 'til it cleared up, so they could come back to the office. They spent the night there in that grove of trees. Lost in a dust storm!
Those storms would come over; cows would go in the barn for milking, and chickens went in the chicken house, at twelve noon, or one o'clock, right in the middle of the daytime they'd actually come up and go into their buildings, thinking it was night time to go to sleep.
Well, after we began to get a few of those emergency things taken care of, we began to seed grass. A lot of it was on an experimental basis, on a trial basis. Grass seed was awfully scarce. Up to that time, no one had ever paid much attention about producing grass seed row crops and annuals, sure, but there was no major production of grass seed. So we planted most anything we could get ahold of, from sand drop-seed to Johnson grass, and on down the line.
On our places there were quite a few buildings. We tore down quite a number of them. Then we had an incident; a little cyclone at this small town in Oklahoma. The name has slipped my mind now, but I'll think of it in a moment. The old FHA, the Farm Home Administration, acquired 37 of our buildings as donations to them. The people whose homes had blown away in this cyclone were given these houses. All the cost to them was the transportation on the house; the FHA picked them up and moved them over to the little town; all they had to pay was the transportation.
I mentioned before, quite a few of those houses had basements under 'em. I had a foreman that was doin' this emergency tillage work with his crew. He was quite an old character. He believed in puttin' in from sun-up to sundown for a day's work, although we were on an eight hour basis. He had some men doing some work for him and they'd always quit and be back around the office around four o'clock in the afternoon. He decided he'd fix it so they'd stay out their allotted time. On this particular day, he caught two of 'em down in the basement of one of those old houses, more or less resting, so he just closed and bolted the door and came on back. One of these men weighed around 150-60 pounds, was rather fat and portly, and couldn't get out. The smaller one could get out, but he decided he'd be a good Joe and wouldn't go off and leave his buddy.
Well, along about twelve o'clock, this foreman I was speakin' of felt a little sorry for 'em, so he did make 'em a sandwich each and a pot of coffee and took it over and lowered it down to 'em on a wire, but they stayed there all night. They were there ready to go to work at eight the next morning. From then on, Joe didn't have trouble keepin' his men out there workin' until five o'clock in the afternoon.
The story went around over there that those people, when they were issued their deeds and title to the land, were issued a running deed, 'cause they never knew where their farm was gonna be. So the running deed was the general issuance over there.
Later, as the thing began to develop, we began our fencing and water development, that is, our wells and windmills. I had set a deadline when I went there in 1950 to have that all completed by July 1, 1955. It was supposed to have been about all done by then. We almost made it.
Where was your headquarters exactly?
Well, originally the headquarters was in Dalhart, the county seat of Dallam County, which was about 35 miles from what we called the working compound. At one time we had the entire top floor of the Keems Building there in Dalhart, which gave us a series of some 12 or 15 offices.
Later on, as the work was finished, we cut down on personnel and came down to a much smaller office. After I went there in '50, I gradually worked the office out of Dalhart, out to the compound, as we called it a working area 17 miles due east of Texline, Texas. There's where the office stayed until the time came when I left there. I understand now their office has been moved into town.
The original set-up of our particular unit was called the Tri-State, because it did include part of Oklahoma, part of New Mexico, and of course the portion there in Dallam County in Texas. It was the Tri-State Land Utilization Project. The acreage in the old Tri-State was around 156,000 acres.
Your old district there at Texline you call the Dallam County L.U., what was the acreage in that?
There's about 96,000 acres. Of course, that was checkerboarded all over that whole northern half of Dallam County. That was quite an interesting thing we had to do our own surveying, that is, the engineering part of it, to locate land corners and so forth. We did get into quite a few hassles, of course, on location of certain corners and certain lines. But we were able to get out of it.
This stuff, these lands, were quite scattered because the Federal Government stayed away from buying land that was already in grass. Now, of course, in many cases in buying from the Federal Land Bank, their policy was "Take it all or none." We did wind up buying some grassland that was in a very poor condition, hummocky and blown, et cetera. It was treated just about like the regular land that had been under cultivation. The Government even bought 40-acre tracts, down to that small. If a fellow only owned 40 acres, and its condition justified, they bought it.
Of course, quite a few people held onto cultivated lands and didn't sell it, and they gave us quite a lot of trouble. Soil would blow from their lands onto ours, that we'd tried to seed, and over the fences, after they'd been built. I believe you saw some of those fences over there.
I saw some of them.
I know we had a visiting crew from Washington, Forest Service people. I think they were down there just checking up to see what that old boy down at Texline was doin'. I had put in an emergency request for $3,500 to plow out some fence line. The idea being to take an ordinary road patrol, or "maintainer," as some people call 'em, and move the sand away from the fence line. They gave me the money but I think they were checkin' up, to see just what was going on. As I went around with 'em, I showed 'em some of those fences that were actually covered up. It was unbelievable to those men that had lived most of their lives back in the Northeast.
Then I told them, I said, "If you think that's a little bit odd, we'll go on down the road here a few miles and I'll show you where the fence is blown out of the ground and the posts are two feet off the ground." So when they saw that, they realized that they had a little bit different situation from a wet forest with a lot of pine trees in it.
Back to these patchwork or broken-up tracts that we had. This is a story told by my engineer to some of these visiting dignitaries that were out. This fellow could tell a long story about it.
We started at a certain point with a survey crew and we went north so many miles, we turned and went west so many miles, and then south so many miles, and then back east so many miles, to a point we were tryin' to locate. We drove our peg into the ground and dug all around and couldn't find the iron pipe. So we went back the same route we'd come and we took a turn and started back, and we went back again the same way. We went north five miles, and we went west six miles, and south three miles, and back east four miles, and drove a peg. We shoveled all around it and couldn't find any pipe. Finally we decided, well, we'd just dig up that peg and set a post there. When we dug up that peg we found we had drove the peg into the two inch pipe that was the reason we couldn't find the stake!
That was pretty good engineering.
That was pretty accurate. pretty good engineering.
Of course, on the Oklahoma strip and the Texas strip, all that land a lot of people have heard called "No Man's Land" for many years; at one time there were five surveys along that strip. Texas claimed the strip about a quarter of a mile north of the present State line. Oklahoma was claimin' a strip about a quarter of a mile south of the line. So they had an overlapping in there of, oh, about half a mile.
In that overlapping there were five different surveys the old Antonio Rey Survey, the FDY survey, and the FWD, which is the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad survey. And then we had the Seneca surveys in there. All were supposed to be legal surveys. Of course, later on in years, the GLO did go in there and resurvey the whole thing and established the definite line that became the line between Oklahoma and Texas. That portion north that had been in dispute was given to Oklahoma and the portion south to Texas. Those blocks of land then were sold off to individuals who owned the land adjoining.
Well, in many cases along those strips, both in Oklahoma and in Texas, the Federal Government owned the land adjoining them. We weren't in position to buy that land from the State or do anything about it. So there was all this squabble as to whether that fence line around our L. U. pastures was gonna be a quarter of a mile north, or whether it was gonna be down on the old State line. In many cases, we just waited until the other fellow fenced his place north of there, and then ran a fence line north and joined onto him. That way we did acquire the benefit and use of that strip country in there.
Of course the strip country, or "No Man's Land", you know, a lot of old-timers said all it was for was a passageway or strip-way for the Indians out West to go back through the Indian Reservation into Oklahoma.
It is always a big feeling of pride to go back into that country now and see some of those old areas that were blowin', and the fields with sand ripples on 'em just like the bottom of a creek bed, or like any desert; go back there now and see a good stand of side oats gramma, blue gramma, switch grass or something like that on it, and cattle growin', grazin' all over the place.
Think back and remember the time when, by Golly, you didn't dare go across there, either afoot or in an automobile or truck, because you'd get stuck in the sand. You didn't know whether you were gonna get lost or not because those dust storms can be a little more severe than a snow storm. You get choked up and can't breathe. Those people tell me that in those early days, when the dust was blowin', a lot of people died with what they called dust pneumonia.
To get into some of those old houses that I mentioned earlier, and see the tables still set with dishes was a pathetic thing. The sand and dust would be maybe two, three feet deep inside the house. All the basements, or half basements, or quarter basements, that they might have had, would be full of sand.
After we started working there, we found tractors and combines that had been completely covered up. Due to our work of seeding and working around there, we stopped sand from blowing, and as a result then, the sand began to move off the high places and would uncover tractors and combines that had been covered up. The tractors and combines weren't rusty or anything; they were just as pretty and bright as the day there were covered up. That sand was dry, powder dry. Moisture never had penetrated deep enough down to cause any rusting or oxidation.
A lot of people acquired the combines and tractors simply by going over and digging them out. We had no use for them. We hadn't bought them to begin with. In those early days people acquired tractors and combines and used them for years.
When you took over the land in that depleted situation and started reseeding, what did you do with it? How did you use it?
Well, we began to at least get a part of it under control, by that I mean we had a stand of grass on it and had it up in such condition that it was ready to be used. Of course, those people in that part of the country needed all the help they could get; they needed all the income they could possibly scare up. As we developed a pasture, with maybe a section in it, maybe four or five sections, then the problem came as to who to put on that pasture, who to give the permit to.
We issued permits, practically identical to the way we do on the Forests today, but the problem was "who". We always had 15 to 20 men after every unit as it would be completed and developed.
The criterion that we applied was this: the man who had a unit, that is, a farm of his own, that could supply feed for those cattle during the time they weren't on the project pasture, was given Number One priority. Then Number Two consideration was the closeness of his farm, the nearness of his farm, or range combination, to the unit. That might in some cases eliminate the Number One man because he'd be too far away to come to the unit, so then we'd maybe drop down to Number Two man and see how he would fit in.
Eventually we'd come down to what we thought was the fair man to go on the project. He would go on a permit basis. Of course, they only ran cattle six months out of the year, during the summertime. He would be required to show evidence that he had enough feed, or enough pasture of some kind, to take care of his cattle during the winter months when he wasn't out on the project.
I look back at it now then I didn't think too much about it but I look back now and think that was quite a responsibility to put a Ranger out there on the desert. He had to say whether Sam Jones had it or John Jones had it. It was quite a responsibility and, by the same token, whether it was right or wrong I'm not tryin' to justify it either way but the land managers in those early days ruled those things with an iron hand.
I remember I used to go out and make my own analysis. I mean, we didn't do the analyses like we do 'em now, but we did go out and take clippings, et cetera. I determined myself how many cattle could go on a pasture, and then I determined who was gonna put the cattle on the pasture. Then we had a figure that was given to us, on the average price of cattle in the 17 Western States, and we figured the grazing fee right there on the District. We wrote the permit, we collected the money and mailed it in. And we had very, very little trouble. It wasn't only me, all those fellows on the L. U. projects went through that same procedure; they determined who was gonna get the pasture.
Well now, you can feature in this day and time, what a hassle would happen whenever you'd say, "All right, you've got the pasture, and you haven't." And of course, by the same token, at that time we were required to take an application. In other words, if you came in and said "I want to make an application for grazing," we had to take the application. We might not be able to honor it, or course, or do anything with it, but we had to sit down and discuss it with you and take that application and try to figure out what we were gonna do.
What size did permits usually run? You said some of those farms, or acquisitions, got down to 40 acres. Did you have any 40-acre pastures?
I had, on my District, some two or three 40-acre pastures. In those cases, well, in every case on my District, we were able to include them into a pasture of private lands. They were used very similar to the way we use off-and-on permits, or the G3B4 permit today. The acreage of land in the entire unit was determined and we were paid on a share basis of the acreage we had.
Then, of course, there were quite a few others where the farm, or farm-and-range combination were small, but would be adjacent to each other we could include several of these farms into one unit, as a grazing unit you see. We might have several farms included into one unit. The largest single unit, that I recall we had, was 16 sections in one unit. That was in the "high lonesome" country, as we called it. Later, as a management phase, we did break that 16-section pasture down into four units, and it seemed to work out better.
An incident I had back there one time in this "high lonesome" country we're talkin' about we took our grazing applications in March, and the permits were written right in the office there. The notice was mailed to the permittees, and they came into the office and gave us their checks for the grazing fees. All that took place during March. It's a little bit hard, along in March, to tell whether you're gonna have a lot of grass that summer. Everyone, most everyone at least, realized that.
I had one fellow one time it didn't rain after those grazing permits were issued, the drouth went on up into summer. He decided he'd just sue Old Hoyt because I'd sold him grass that wasn't there. He proceeded to go to Fort Worth, which was our Regional Office at that time, and talked to the man in charge of L. U. lands. Said he was gonna sue me because I had sold him grass that wasn't there. Well, the fellow was real diplomatic and talked to the boss for quite a while, and finally got a date set up on which we'd all meet and look at the land, look the country over. In the meantime, it started to rain and, as you know, that country can change 90 percent when it starts raining a little bit.
The date arrived and the man from Fort Worth came out and we visited at the office a while. Then we went over to the pasture where we were to meet the permittee; we found him right out in the middle of the pasture, just bogged down clear up to the hub on his pick-up stuck, couldn't get out. He spent the entire day explaining and apologizing to us for his cattle being so fat! That's the first and the only time I've ever had a permittee apologize to me as a range manager for his cattle bein' so fat. But that happened during that trip.
What happened if you set too many numbers on a pasture and they overgrazed it before the end of the permitted season?
Well, that's what I was speakin' of a while ago, whether it was right or wrong, the range manager did rule with an iron hand. We were supposed to be able to see whether that was gonna be over-used or not. As it got along to the middle of the season, or three-fourths of the season was gone; then we had the prerogative of goin' out there and tellin' that man, and seein' to it that he moved so many head off of there and he did it. Then we'd come back the next year and we'd say, "Now look, we overgrazed a little. We can't put 70 head on there; we can only put 45." And 45 was what he put on there. We never had any trouble. We never had trouble with a permittee runnin' in to the Supervisor's office complainin' about this or about that thing. They accepted it; it was that way.
If you had a man remove some stock before the end of the permitted season, did you make a refund of his payment?
That's right; we either made a refund or extended it into the next year's payment gave him credit for it. He knew that he wasn't gonna lose his grazing fees that he had paid. Of course, those grazing fees were considerably higher then they were on the average National Forest.
How high did they run?
They have gone as high as $2.09 per cow per month. In other words, run a cow for a six-months' period, the fee would run in the neighborhood of $15.00.
I did have a couple of permittees on my District back there that also had Forest permits, in the neighbor of Magdalena. When I first found out about it, I thought, "Well, my trouble's fixin' to start because they're payin' probably 32 or 33 cents, and here they're paying $2.09". But both of those fellows told me they'd rather pay $2.09 on that country there than 31 cents in the country they were located on at Magdalena. Management-wise as much as anything, not particularly from the amount of forage, but distances they had to go to it.
Did you ever make an attempt to cut out the ones that were using poor conservation practices?
Right. At one time we were set up that way. It wasn't the Soil Conservation at that time, it was the agency that started back in there just prior to the Soil Conservation Service Resettlement. They had to have more or less a plan on their place, and that plan might be very simple, but it would require them to have so many milk cows, so many hogs, so many chickens, and those kinds of things, before they could qualify to get on grazing. Then later on, the weeding out; actually, it looked like it might be a big problem, but those fellows weeded themselves out. Their management practices and their conservation measures in the way they took care of their own place, was such that they just naturally weeded themselves out of the picture and lost their cattle.
I had one particular fellow that was issued a permit. I believe he had 60 head of cattle, and he got a little bit concerned, a little uneasy, about the market just prior to going on the allotment, so he sold the cattle to an individual and then in turn leased him his permit. Well, this fellow that leased the section of ground, or whatever the acreage, it appeared to him that there was an awful lot of grass on it, so he put on 80-some cows instead of the 60 listed on the permit.
We used to count cattle in that country by plane. We'd fly over the country and count 'em. I flew over and counted his cattle and found the 80-some head on there rather than the 60 head. I wrote the fellow a letter and explained to him that the permit was for 60 head and a few days later I was back over the country again, and there was still 80 head. Well, to make a long story short, we wrote him several letters and couldn't get an answer from him at all. I'd drive by there with a pick-up and couldn't find anyone at home. Found out that they were in Hawaii and California and places like that on vacation all this time, and he hadn't been gettin' his letters.
Finally they came back from their vacation and I went by the house and stopped and talked to his wife. She was one of those ladies that didn't know anything about their husband's business, so she just told me the whole story, just what had happened about sellin' the cattle to John Doe over there, and he put 'em on there, and the whole works. I went back to the office and dug out my manuals and sat down, and I just cake-booked it right down the list, 1, 2, 3, and came up with a bill of $498.
I went over and presented this bill to the fellow. I had my letters to him and I had his letters written back to me, and mine written back to him and all that, ready for his signature. So when he saw what I had there, he said, "All right, what do I owe you?" and I told him $498. He just wrote me out a check. I put it in my pocket and went on back to the office.
When I sent in all of the papers and I had read a little bit further in the manual of course, it always pays to read those things but had that amounted to as much as $500, I'd have had to gone all the way to Washington with it, to get a settlement. I've always been accused, in the Regional Office at Fort Worth, of purposely settin' it at $498 instead of $500. But some of those things that you look back on, in reminiscing, that happened back there in those early days, they were quite the thing, all right.
It was a new program, a more or less new agency. There must have been a lot of things that you just had to set a precedent.
That's right; we just had to say, "This is what it's gonna be." Maybe the next time you look back, or think back to what you did last time and do the same thing again, the first thing you know you've got the precedent set. And that's it. The next fellow that comes along will be a lot smarter, but still he looks back and says, "Well, this is the way it's been done, so maybe I'd better do it that way." And they'd pretty well set up the way. But it was a great experience and one that I'll always remember. As I mentioned a while ago, to go back now and see some of those places that I personally had a hand in developing, seeding, putting a fence around it, putting mills on it, and then writing the permit to so-and-so to put cattle on there; it does give you a feeling of accomplishment. It's just something you've done.
Are the pastures holding up pretty well?
They're holding up real well. Of course as you know, in 1956 we almost had another dust bowl. I firmly believe that if we hadn't had that country, or so much of it, back in grass to break up strip cropping, I firmly believe that we'd have had another dust bowl then. We had less rain that year than we did any time in the dust bowl less rain recorded there on the official rain gauge. And we had the wind.
The only thing we were lacking in a dust bowl was bare ground, bare soil. That was what we had in the Thirties; no stubble, nothing to hold it. It was dry, and the wind always blows. So the three elements for a dust bowl were there in the Thirties, where we only had two in '56; that was the wind and the drouth, lack of moisture. We did have something on the soil, something on the ground to hold it down.
The old building that was used as an office there, Eddie you visited me in the old building well, that was an old homestead building. The basement of the building was completely full of dust or sand. It's a peculiar thing, in that country that isn't a real sand. We think of it as sand blowing, but it's a very fine textured soil, with coloration a little on the darkish side chocolate brown. It's so fine textured that it just moves with the least amount of wind. Consequently, when you had those hummocky areas, even if no more than two feet, it was extremely difficult to get anything growin' back on them because of lack of penetration of moisture. It'd rain, and that fine silt would just seal over and the rain would run off. Because of the fact it was hummocked, there was a slope there, you see, which gave it a chance to run off. The soil was fine textured, a fine sandy loam, I suppose you'd classify it, in soil terminology. You can still see the sand marks in that house, about four or five feet deep. It had just eddied and accumulated in there, just like snow will swirl around and drift up the sand was doin' the same thing.
Was the basic cause of the dust bowl the type of farming that they were doing, or was it because they were farming at all?
Well, it was some of both. I think primarily it was the type of farming they were doing. They were farming that country; a big portion of it was in wheat, which was drilled in. That wheat land was prepared by a disc plow which, at the most, only stirred the ground down four or five inches deep. And then, of course, they'd get this soil bare-tilled and they'd cultivate it with those disc plows, which were commonly called one-way plows. By that, they meant they'd throw the soil all one way. The result was that this ground was only disturbed for four or five inches on top, and there was no clay or more compacted soil brought up from deeper and mixed in with it.
That was proved later on by what we call deep plowing over certain areas, so that they can control blowing, or 90 percent of it, anyhow. Then, of course, it goes right back to the fact that particular type of soil shouldn't have ever been put under plow to begin with. And after it was, the type of farming methods they were using and the soil they were farming, just weren't compatible at all.
Now there were some areas over there you remember the picnic area that I developed? There were two sections in that original purchase by those people they were sitting on a gold mine if they'd been able to stick it out. Most any place on the 1,280 acres you can build an artesian well. You'd hit water anywhere from four to five feet down. Those people sure didn't know it, didn't realize it, and as a result they sold out to the Government, or turned it back to the Federal Land Bank and let the Government buy it. That particular block of ground could have been plowed and put into some form of cultivation, and with proper conservation practices it could have been made to produce an abundance of material over the years.
Would you recommend that any of those lands that were acquired under this program be turned back to farming?
No, I couldn't recommend it. You might be able to pick out small tracts of from 20 to 30 acres, something like that, that from all appearance might safely be put into cultivation. But the majority of it can't be. Even those small areas if, in their farming they let the land become bare, that is, no organic matter on it, no straw, no mulch, and they hit a dry year, it will blow. They can plow all they want to, the soil is of such a nature that it will blow when it's dry and the wind is blowing. As we know, the wind blows nearly all the time.
In that country, the only two elements you need there for a dust bowl are bare soil and dry weather. And we hit those ever so often, we know. And by the same token, if blowing gets started, there may be a good sodded pasture, grass land, on the east and southeast of those places, this blowing area will move right on over and start them to blowing. You just get a chain reaction, right on across the grassland. I've seen it happen.
Hoyt, when you'd get those pastures in good shape, was there much of a demand for return to private ownership?
Well, there was at one time, quite an agitation, people wantin' it returned to private ownership; not, of course, from the people that were usin' the pastures, but from other people who thought maybe they were entitled to use the pastures and for various and sundry reasons had never been given a permit. Back several years ago, I've written reports about that country to our Soil Conservation Service offices, and I always recommended against returning it to private ownership, simply because of the type of country it is and the fact that ever so often you're gonna have a drouth in that country and the wind is always blowin'.
Hoyt, from your wide experience would you think that there are other lands over there that should be purchased by the Government and rehabilitated?
One time there was there was a lot of that land that should've been purchased and put under this controlled system, and put back under stable use. When our Soil Bank program came into effect, there were many of those farmers that were farming a section or two of land, that put all of it they could into the soil bank program. Well, that enhanced our program. In other words, it was compatible with it.
I had several pastures where I always had a blowing problem. Cultivated fields on the west and northwest of those pastures would give me anywhere from 200 feet to a quarter of a mile of my seeded acreage covered with sand each year. Those fields, naturally, when they went into the Soil Bank, they'd put 'em into grass and they've been there since that time, and that's eliminated the problem. I think those areas in that Soil Bank if they ever turn that loose and let those fellows go back in there and plow it up, they are gonna have the same situation we had before. Then those areas, those sections in there, I think, should be purchased by the Government and put back into stable condition. As long as the Soil Bank picture goes along and those places stay in grass, it's fine.
It did supplement our program, then?
It supplemented our program and, after all, it wasn't the fact that the Federal Government wanted to own land in Dallam County; that wasn't the purpose; the purpose was to get in there and try to stabilize and keep it from blowin'. So if a private individual does the same thing, why, we heartily agree with it.
Hoyt, when I was over there you showed me some cooperative work with the State on wildlife restoration. There were some quail plantings and you were putting in shrubs for a quail habitat improvement. Did that ever amount to anything?
It turned out really above my expectations. I was a little dubious to begin with, but it has turned out well. They continued that kind of work, and that is a wonderful country over there for blue quail now. They use those plantings, of course, for cover as well as for feed-producing plants. We had some failures where we were experimenting on shrubbery. We found skunk-bush was very good cover, it would really take and stay. Russian olive is a good plant, and the wild cherry is another planting we used. I think it's been worthwhile; it's been good. The sportsmen in that particular area were pretty hard pressed for some sporting activity within a reasonable driving distance of their homes. Of course, they don't hunt in those particular areas, but the quail move out from those areas and out into the hunting areas where they do have good hunting.
Do you think there'll ever be a time when maybe more of those lands should be used for recreation purposes rather than grazing purposes?
Well, they probably should. Many of those farmers and ranchers have, through better methods of farming, and their agricultural conservation practices, gotten on top of the situation considerably. The local need for supplemental grazing isn't nearly as great as it was at one time. Consequently, I think there can be quite a bit of that country put into recreational uses. I'd be highly in favor of lakes and dams for fishing.
Of course the Regional Office in Albuquerque used to ask me about the fishing situation over there, you know, and I always answered: my pat answer, "We're right in the heart of the fishing country; 300 miles in any direction there's good fishing. Any direction you want to go." But I do think that, well, that little old picnic area was an example. As far as intensive use, it was almost unbelievable the way that thing was used. And that was, to me, good evidence of the need of other similar types.