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LibbyMt.com > News > July 2006 > Kootenai Forest celebrates 100 years in August

Kootenai Forest celebrates 100 years in August
July 24, 2006

In August, the Kootenai National Forest will celebrate its 100th year. Last year, the USDA Forest Service celebrated the centennial of the agency.

In celebration of the centennial, the Forest has put together a publication entitled, “The Future of Our Past”, a comprehensive look at the history of the Kootenai National Forest over the past 100 years. It is filled with stories, historical photos and place names from across the Forest.

The document was put together by Rebecca Timmons, Kootenai National Forest Archaeologist with the help of other Kootenai Forest employees, local historians, as well as one Libby High School student.

Topics in this centennial document include:
-National Forest Beginnings
-Early Leaders
-Ant Flat, Pipe Creek, Bull River, Fairview, Sylvanite, Raven Ranger Stations
-Lookouts: Mount Henry, Mount Baldy, Star Peak, McGuire Mountain, Virginia Hill, Mud Lake, Robinson Mountain
-Cabinet Mountain Wilderness
-Dorr Skeels
-WWII Italian Detainees
-District Place Names

Below are some excerpts from this historical report:
Early Beginnings: “Between 1900 -1901, the Kootenai National Forest hired its first rangers, Fred Herrig, Joe Eastland, and Charley Myers. They built ranger stations such as the Bunch Grass Ranger Station on Graves Creek and the Ant Flat Ranger Station… A ranger in 1906 had to be able to ride, shoot, pack a mule, cruise and cut timber, survey and map, enforce land laws, prepare a written report, construct buildings, clear trails, fight fires, maintain records, issue permits and deal with people. He had to be able to supply most of his own equipment, including horses, and be willing to work for $75 per month.”

Tree Lookouts: “Tree lookouts, while not as well-known as the lookouts which were packed to mountain tops in kit form, can be found in the Kootenai National Forest. One of these lookouts can be found on the Libby Ranger District on McMillan Mountain, which is located approximately 6 miles south-southeast of Libby. It was one of three lookout trees built by Kyle Beebe and Grant Harley in the 1920’s, the others being Lindy Peak and Flower Point. Constructing a tree lookout involved finding a tree in the right location on a high point of a mountain. Branches were cut off and metal foot pegs were driven up a tree so one could climb it like a ladder. The top of the tree was cut off for an alidade and a platform was constructed. The McMillan Mountain lookout had two trees with 6 foot x 6 foot platform with railing at waist height. At first the lookouts that manned this tree stayed in a nearby tent, but in 1929 a frame structure ‘cabin’ was built.”

Click on the link below to download a digital version of this document (note, this is a large file, 10.9 MB PDF, which may take a long time to download for users with slower internet access.) Hard copy versions of the document are available at the Kootenai Forest Supervisor’s Office and all the ranger stations.

Related Links:
Kootenai National Forest - Celebrating 100 Years of History; The Future of Our Past (32 pages, 10.9MB PDF – large file)
Kootenai National Forest

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