Trails of the Past:
Historical Overview of the Flathead National Forest, Montana, 1800-1960




Previous Work
Physical Environment
Abbreviations Used in Text

The Fur Trade

The Fur Trade

Missionary Activity and Early Exploration

Missionary Activity
Railroad Surveys
International Boundary Surveys
Other Early Explorations


Oil Fields
Coal Deposits
Placer and Lode Mining
   Prospector's Life
Placer and Lode Mining in the Flathead

Settlement and Agriculture

Settlement Up to 1871
1891 to World War II
World War II to Present

Forest Reserves

Forested Land on the Public Domain up to 1891
Creation of the Forest Reserves
GLO Administration of the Forest Reserves, 1898-1905
Forest Supervisors and Rangers on the Flathead and Lewis & Clarke Forest Reserves, 1898-1905

Forest Service Administration, 1905-1960

Qualifications of Early Forest Service Workers
Daily Work of Early Forest Service Employees
Forest Service Food
Winter Work
Special-Use Permits
Forestry Research and Education
World Wars
Administrative Sites
Northern Pacific Railroad
Glacier National Park
Glacier View and Other Proposed Dams
Hungry Horse Dam


Early Trails
Wagon Roads
Forest Service Trails
Forest Service Trail Construction and Maintenance
Forest Service Use of Pack Animals
Forest Service Roads



Fire Detection and Suppression

Fire Behavior and History
Early GLO and Forest Service Fire Policy
1910 Fires in the Northern Rockies
Fire Detection
Fire Suppression
Cooperative Fire Efforts

Timber Harvesting

1800s to 1905
Timber Trespasses
Logging on Private Lands, 1905-1942
Railroad Ties
Forest Service Logging, 1905-1942
   Swan Valley
   Middle Fork
   South Fork
   North Fork and North of Columbia Falls
Logging During and Shortly After World War II
Insect, Disease, and Windstorm Damage to Timber
Logging in the 1950s
Logging Methods
   Timber Cruising and Scaling
   Skidding and Hauling
   River Drives
   Mechanization of Logging
   Logging Camps
   The IWW Strikes
Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1960

Forest Homesteads

Forest Homestead Act of 1906
Stillwater Area Homesteads
North Fork Homesteads
Middle Fork Homesteads
South Fork Homesteads
Swan Valley Homesteads

Grazing and Other Commodities

Grazing in the Flathead Valley
General Forest Service Grazing
Grazing on the Flathead National Forest
Other Commodities

Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, and Wildlife Managment

Forest Service Wildlife Management

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Era

Blister Rust

Recreation and Wilderness Areas

General Recreation
Recreation in the Lake McDonald Area
Flathead National Forest Recreation up to World War II
Downhill Skiing
Flathead National Forest Recreation after World War II
Creation of Primitive and Wilderness Areas
Bob Marshall Wilderness
Mission Mountains
Jewel Basin





Index (omitted from the online edition)


Figure 1. Map of Flathead National Forest and vicinity

Figure 2. Fur trading posts in northwestern Montana and vicinity

Figure 3. Locations of Native American tribes, ca. 1853

Figure 4. Fort Connah on the Flathead Indian Reservation, 1865

Figure 5. John Palliser

Figure 6. Placing an international boundary marker

Figure 7. Historic mining districts in northwestern Montana and vicinity

Figure 8. Kintla oil well, 1904

Figure 9. Star Meadow mining district, showing locations of mines

Figure 10. Nick Moon, ca. 1895

Figure 11. Post offices in the Flathead Valley area

Figure 12. Towns that have had post offices in the Flathead Valley area

Figure 13. Counties in western Montana: 1889, 1904, 1918, 1925

Figure 14. Street scene in Kalispell, ca. 1895

Figure 15. McCarthysville, 1918

Figure 16. Lewis & Clarke Forest Reserve boundaries in 1898

Figure 17. Flathead Forest Reserve boundaries in 1898

Figure 18. Supervisors of Flathead and Blackfeet National Forests, 1898 to present

Figure 19. William Brennen, first supervisor of the Blackfeet National Forest

Figure 20. Frank Liebig standing on rock cairn at Swiftcurrent Pass, 1906

Figure 21. Frank Geduhn at foot of Logging Lake, ca. 1907

Figure 22. Flathead and Blackfeet National Forest ranger districts ca. 1954

Figure 23. Cartoon drawn in 1930

Figure 24. Jack Clack wearing the packframe that he designed

Figure 25. Winter camp near Calbick Creek, 1936

Figure 26. Echo Ranger Station, 1924

Figure 27. Flathead National Forest cartographic survey, 1960

Figure 28. Administrative sites on the Flathead National Forest

Figure 29. Big Prairie Ranger Station, 1913

Figure 30. Elk Park packers' camp, ca. 1924

Figure 31. Drawing of Moran Ranger Station, ca. 1918

Figure 32. Construction at Spotted Bear Ranger Station, 1925

Figure 33. Big Prairie Ranger Station complex, ca. 1917

Figure 34. Big Prairie Ranger Station complex, 1990

Figure 35. Location of proposed Glacier View dam and reservoir

Figure 36. Location of proposed Spruce Park dam, reservoir, and tunnel

Figure 37. Map of reported Native American trails in Flathead Valley area

Figure 38. Major roads and trails in Montana after 1850

Figure 39. Freighter on Fort Steele-Kalispell trail

Figure 40. Mary Ann and State of Montana at Demersville, 1891

Figure 41. Map of Flathead County ca. 1905

Figure 42. Railroad routes in Montana, 1887, 1898, 1910

Figure 43. Primary roads and trails in Flathead National Forest area, 1898

Figure 44. Primary roads and trails in Flathead National Forest area, 1908 and 1912

Figure 45. Primary roads and trails in Flathead National Forest, 1928 and 1927

Figure 46. Fitting the abutment timbers on the Big Prairie bridge, 1922

Figure 47. Equipment for a five-man Forest Service trail crew in 1935

Figure 48. The Beatty trail grader

Figure 49. Theodore W. (Toad) Paullin and a "short string," 1967

Figure 50. Toussaint Jones packing a hot water heater

Figure 51. South Fork road near Upper Twin Creek, 1926

Figure 52. Trails and roads in the Trail Creek area, 1912

Figure 53. Trails and roads in the Trail Creek area, 1928

Figure 54. Trails and roads in the Trail Creek area, 1948

Figure 55. Trails and roads in the Trail Creek area, 1963

Figure 56. Fool Hen Bridge on North Fork Road (west side), 1953

Figure 57. Bulldozer working on Martin Creek access road, 1946

Figure 58. Harry Gisborne using a heliograph, 1915

Figure 59. Forest Service worker in the Spotted Bear Lookout

Figure 60. Alidade stand and iron mine phone on Six Mile lookout, ca. 1920

Figure 61. Forest Service worker repairing telephone line, 1926

Figure 62. South Fork Road near Wounded Buck Creek, 1926

Figure 63. List of some of the major fires in the Flathead National Forest area

Figure 64. Areas burned on the Blackfeet and Flathead National Forests, 1910

Figure 65. Areas burned by major fires on the Flathead National Forest, 1889-1949

Figure 66. Railroad speeder, 1921

Figure 67. List of emergency fire-season rations, 1914

Figure 68. "Seen area" photograph taken from Standard Lookout

Figure 69. Spotted Bear Lookout, 1923

Figure 70. Locations of all known lookout sites on the Flathead National Forest

Figure 71. Hornet Peak Lookout, 1923

Figure 72. LA-style lookout, Flathead National Forest

Figure 73. C. J. Hash taking a reading on Salmon lookout, 1926

Figure 74. Portable water pump in use on Wolf Creek fire, 1924

Figure 75. Putting final touches on fire line, Tango Creek fire, 1953

Figure 76. Half Moon fire burning over Teakettle Mountain, 1929

Figure 77. Half Moon fire of 1929, acres burned and fire suppression costs

Figure 78. Sawmill on Whitefish Lake

Figure 79. Butte & Montana Commercial Company mill, ca. 1895

Figure 80. Interior of State Lumber Company sawmill, LaSalle, Montana, 1898

Figure 81. List of some of the sawmills in Flathead County in 1907

Figure 82. Timber types in the Flathead River drainage, 1922

Figure 83. Production of small mills vs. large mills in Montana, 1921-1948

Figure 84. Annual production of Christmas trees in Montana, 1936-49

Figure 85. Original Somers sawmill, built 1901

Figure 86. Somers Lumber Company workers and triangular railroad ties

Figure 87. Annual production of sawed cross ties in Montana, 1925-47

Figure 88. McMillan & Kerr tie mill in Patrick gulch near Kalispell 1930

Figure 89. Hauling railroad ties by truck, Eureka, 1929

Figure 90. Location and relative production sawmills in northwest Montana, 1948

Figure 91. Working circles on the Flathead National Forest, ca. 1960

Figure 92. 1924 estimates of timber on the Blackfeet and Flathead National Forests

Figure 93. Timber sales on Flathead National Forest, May 1926-January 1929

Figure 94. Location of Coram Experimental Forest

Figure 95. Hypothetical timber sale in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Figure 96. Volume of timber cut on Flathead National Forest, 1935-1960

Figure 97. Number of sawmills and lumber production in Montana

Figure 98. Relation of allowable cut to annual cut, 1916-1957

Figure 99. Scaling logs

Figure 100. Sawyers felling a Douglas-fir with a cross-cut saw

Figure 101. Larch butts discarded on ACM sale, Seely Lake, Montana, 1908

Figure 102. Frank Motichka and logging crew, ca. 1910

Figure 103. Loading logs on to GNRR 40 miles west of Kalispel, 1939

Figure 104. Logging railroads in Flathead Valley area

Figure 105. Shay locomotive

Figure 106. Logs in Stillwater River near Olney, 1924

Figure 107. Splash dam on outlet of Whitefish Lake

Figure 108. Log drive on Middle Fork of the Flathead

Figure 109. Wannigan on Stillwater River near the end of a log drive

Figure 110. Willis March logging truck, 1920s

Figure 111. Floor plan of railroad cars used at a logging camp, ca. 1934

Figure 112. Logging camp known as Camp 3, Fortine, Montana

Figure 113. Loggers standing in front of load of logs

Figure 114. Interior of kitchen at the State Mill logging camp

Figure 115. Map of a homestead in the upper Swan Valley

Figure 116. Extensive classification of land along Bear Creek, 1910s

Figure 117. Homestead of Ralph and Esther Day in the North Fork

Figure 118. Percentage of alienated land within the Flathead National Forest

Figure 119. Bill and Emma Adair in front of their cabin, ca. 1940

Figure 120. Theo and Anna Christensen

Figure 121. School near Polebridge, ca. 1921

Figure 122. Grazing on the national forests, 1905-1956

Figure 123. Grazing permits on Montana national forests, 1942

Figure 124. Grazing permits on the Flathead National Forest, 1901-1956

Figure 125. North Fork homesteader Mae Sullivan with dead grizzly bear, ca. 1930

Figure 126. North Fork homesteaders holding up a string of fish, prior to 1910

Figure 127. Trappers with pelts, 1934

Figure 128. Chaunce Beebe, Biological Survey trapper and hunter

Figure 129. Estimates of big-game animals, Flathead National Forest, 1919-1941

Figure 130. Rangers on winter elk survey in the South Fork, 1927

Figure 131. Sun River and Spotted Bear Game Preserves

Figure 132. CCC camps on Flathead National Forest and state forests, 1933-1942

Figure 133. Elk Park (Bridgehead) CCC camp, 1935

Figure 134. Flathead CCC camp, ca. 1940

Figure 135. Auto camping in western Montana, ca. 1920

Figure 136. Camp Tuffit, Lake Mary Ronan

Figure 137. Boaters on Holland Lake, 1936

Figure 138. Trail Riders on meadow below Danaher Ranger Station, 1946

Figure 139. Belton (West Glacier) seen from the south, ca. 1914

Figure 140. Glacier National Park visitation, 1911-1957

Figure 141. Recreational use on Flathead and Blackfeet National Forests, 1930

Figure 142. View southwest across Big Salmon Lake from the outlet, 1934

Figure 143. Primitive areas on Flathead and Lewis & Clark National forests, 1936

Figure 144. Mission Mountains, ca. 1922

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Last Updated: 18-Jan-2010
Forest History Society Electronic edition courtesy of the
Forest History Society.