Thank you for joining us for the forty-fourth episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. This episode, titled “Diplomacy” illustrates the ways in which rangers worked to define wilderness policy by educating users of wilderness in order to give them an experience in an unrestrained area and yet maintain the pristine nature of this special place.
Art Seamans worked as the Ranger at Moose Creek from 1975-1980. He describes living with his family in a fourteen foot tent for two years so that another family with young children could use the ranger’s house. His daughter, Cindy Schacher has also worked as an archaeologist and historian in the Selway-Bitterroot area.
Thank you for joining us for the forty-third episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. In this episode, titled “Ancient Communities of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness,” we hear from Vernon Carroll, whose job it is to interpret history for visitors to the Bitterroot Valley at Traveler’s Rest. From showcasing a museum dedicated to Lewis and Clark, to cultivating interest in the Native tradition of educational storytelling, Vern brings the past of this important area to life.
Vernon Carroll, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, was born in Cut Bank, Montana, and worked as a cattle rancher there alongside his father, maintaining a lifelong interest in the history and culture of the native peoples who lived in Montana. His ranch itself boasted three buffalo jumps and numerous tipi rings, among other native sites and artifacts. His love of history led him to work for a year as the interim manager of the Glacier County Museum in Cut Bank. In 2002, he retired from ranching when he was hired as the pioneer Interpretative Specialist at the Traveler’s Rest State Park in Lolo, Montana.
Thank you for joining us for the forty-second episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. In this episode, titled “Nineteen-nineteen” we hear an excerpt from “USFS1919: A Ranger, A Cook and a Hole in the Sky”, which makes up part of Norman MacLean’s best-known work: A River Runs Through It.
Born in Clarinda, Iowa, on December 23, 1902, Norman was the son of Clara and the Reverend John Norman Maclean, a Presbyterian minister, who managed much of the education of Norman and his brother Paul. In 1909, the family relocated to Missoula, Montana, where the landscape made a considerable impression on the young Norman. Because he was too young to enlist in the military during World War I, Norman worked in logging camps and for the United States Forest Service in what is now the Bitterroot National Forest of northwestern Montana. The novella USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky is a semi-fictionalized accounts of these experiences.
In 1931, Norman married Jessie Burns, and in 1940, he earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago where he declined a commission in Naval intelligence to serve as Dean of Students during World War II. At the University of Chicago, Maclean taught Shakespeare and the Romantic poets, and during his last decade on the Chicago faculty, Maclean held an endowed chair as William Rainey Harper Professor of English.
After his retirement in 1973, he began to write down the stories he liked to tell to his children, John and Jean. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories was published in 1976, the first work of original fiction published by the University of Chicago Press and was nominated by a selection committee to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Letters in 1977, but the full committee ignored the nomination and did not award a Pulitzer in that category for the year.
Norman Maclean died on August 2, 1990, in Chicago, at the age of 87 of natural causes.
This excerpt gives a poet’s view of the landscape now known as the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and highlights some of the differences and similarities to the area today.
Thank you for joining us for the forty-first episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. In this episode, titled “Thirty Miles from Paradise,” we take a look at the community that exists in the Moose Creek Ranger Station. Located deep in the heart of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Moose Creek has housed Forest Service employees, work crews, volunteers, outfitters, visitors, and celebrities. Because it can only be accessed by airplane or thirty miles of non-vehicle trail, Moose Creek Ranger Station tends to foster tight communities within the people who live and work there each season. From the early days of the Forest Service in the 1920’s and 30’s, to the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, to the present day when the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation organizes volunteer crews to maintain the trails and manage fires, Moose Creek has been one of the central heartbeats of the Selway-Bitterroot area. The various comments presented in this podcast about living and working at Moose Creek give a small glimpse of this unique place.
Thank you for joining us for the fortieth episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. In this episode, titled “Re-wilding,” Jane Holman describes some of the practical aspects of returning settled sections of the Selway-Bitterroot country to wilderness.
Jane graduated from the University of Montana after growing up in Dixie, Idaho. She spent the years of 1968-1972 at Moose Creek Ranger Station with her husband, Bill Holman, who was the wilderness ranger there. From there, she moved to Washington, DC and spent 29 years working for the U.S. Department of Education, although she always revisited her Idaho roots. After retirement in 2004, she returned to Moscow, Idaho. Among other pursuits, she serves as the secretary for the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation and remains active in stewarding the wilderness, both politically and on the ground.
Thank you for joining us for the thirty-ninth episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. This episode, titled “40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act” is a radio broadcast produced in September of 2004 by NPR’s Morning Edition. Included are interviews of Doris Milner, Dave Campbell and Dennis Baird. For more information, contact NPR.org.
Thank you for joining us for the thirty-eighth episode of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project. In this episode, titled “Impact,” we hear from Emil Keck, who had an enormous impact on the policies and people of wilderness in the Selway-Bitterroot area.
Emil Keck worked as a Forest Service employee beginning in 1962. He was in charge of construction and maintenance of some 400 miles of trails, a half-dozen suspension bridges, another dozen span bridges, the small collection of buildings around the district, and the four remaining fire lookout towers on the 550,000-plus acres that comprise the Moose Creek district in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Emil, the oldest of nine children born to Russian immigrants, spent his first seven years in a sod hut in North Dakota. He began work as a logger and — before his future wife Penny was hired — had strongly objected to having women employees on the district. Following their marriage, Emil and Penny began living at the Moose Creek Ranger Station year-round. When Emil was forced to retire in 1979, Penny became the paid employee, and he stayed on as a volunteer. They continued to live and work at Moose Creek until 1988, when Emil was asked to leave. He died shortly afterward in 1990.
This excerpt is taken from an interview conducted by Don Biddison on November 4, 1988. Emil discusses the work he did in re-wilding the Selway-Bitterroot area in the early years of wilderness, and the work he and Penny undertook to educate campers, hunters, hikers, outfitters and rafters in care and maintenance of the beautiful natural resource by packing out garbage, not creating shortcuts that cause erosion in trails and using ideas that would eventually lead to “Leave No Trace” education in wilderness use.