Suggested Reading List
Splendid Was the Trail
Author: Kenneth D. Swan
Description: History/memoir illustrated by author's photographs document an important era in the history of the West, providing a detailed look at life and work in an isolated, sparsely populated region during the formative years of the US Forest Service. The author's career began with the Northern Region in 1911 when lands were mostly roadless and employees traveled long distances by horseback with a pack string. Lugging a 30-pound camera, he carefully took black-and-white photographs of remote places he visited; needless to say, he was transferred into the Forest Service's Information and Education Branch when it was established in the 1920s. He became an integral part of the development of the Camera Point program where he toured the Northern Region giving lectures, illustrated by his photographs, on forest conservation. These outreach opportunities revealed the unique beauty of remote, wild areas in Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas and captured the face of public lands, revealing its wildness and the value of conservation to the American public. KD Swan retired in 1947; 'his work had become art that transcended the mere recording of a place in time and today, a century later, his photographs still engage and entrance viewers and tell a resounding story about public lands in the west.' His photographs were used not only to illustrate a great variety of Forest Service publications - many of which he also authored - but also appeared in publications including National Geographic, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. A collection of his work is now housed in the National Archive in Washington D.C.
Thirty-two Years in the Mule Business; The USDA/Forest Service Remount Depot and Winter Range
Author: Jane Reed Benson
Description: Out of print; books available for perusal at work site. Historic photographs and text trace history of the horse and mule remount depot which was established by the Forest Service west of Missoula, Montana along Nine Mile Creek in 1930. 'Its history reveals an unlikely combination of fighting forest fires, coping with the Great Depression, buying show horses, designing trucks, building hundreds of miles of fences - and especially packing mules. The Remount Depot proved that a string of nine mules with more than a ton of supplies on their collective backs could form a solid basis for controlling forest fires.'
Packin' in on Mules and Horses
Author: Smoke Elser and Bill Brown
Description: The basics of backcountry packing with a pack string. This comprehensive book provides everything one needs to know about packing - training animals, types of shoes, care of animals, types of pack saddles, packing or loading, knots....The authors' knowledge, experience and personal anecdotes gained over a lifetime experience is priceless. Here's respect for animals and nature and the integrity of the wilderness. You'll learn something while enjoying a good read. The MontanaPBS documentary, "3 Miles An Hour," is about Missoula outfitting legend "Smoke" Elser. 'The documentary reflects Elser's personal philosophy that 3 miles an hour - the speed of a horse - is the best way to see and savor a life well-lived.'
Breaking New Ground
Author: Gifford Pinchot
Description: Autobiography of Gifford Pinchot, founder and first chief of the Forest Service. Here is the courage and vision of a man who, under President Theodore Roosevelt, founded our country's conservation policy - "the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time" - by wresting the forests from economic special interests to bring them under management for multiple and long-range use. Editors introduce this commemorative edition by tracing the evolution of Pinchot's career in the context of his personal life and the social and environmental issues of his time.
Missoula, The Way It Was: A portrait of an early western town
Author: Lenora Koelbel and Stan Cohen
Description: Exploration of the Missoula area's history begins with Native American inhabitants and covers the Corps of Discovery, fur trappers, traders, the army, timbering, ranching, farming and more. Read about the city's early days and Fort Missoula's colorful history including its use as a post for black American soldiers and an internment camp for both the Italian and Japanese during World War II. The book is illustrated with historic and more recent photographs, supplemented for its re release.
High-mountain Two-manner: A Montana smokejumper recalls hitting the silk and the books in his college years
Author: Frank Fowler
Description: Related through letters written to his mother a half-century ago, blending past and present, the author describes his smokejumping years and the joy of working in the back-country amid the beauty of wild country. With roots in the east, a young man journeys west to attend college in Missoula, Montana and work summers for the Forest Service - three as a smokejumper - when the program was in its adolescence. Straight forward, inspirational and filled with love for the outdoors.
Iron Riders: Story of the 1890's Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps
Author: George N. Sorensen
Description: Informative text, pictures, documents and maps introduce and explain the little known history of a dedicated group of black American soldiers - the Iron Riders Buffalo Soldiers on wheels. Read about their ride to Yellowstone National Park from Fort Missoula, Montana followed by their epic ride to St. Louis, Missouri in 1897. Their leader, Lt. Moss, was attempting to prove to the army that bicycles could be a valuable asset. Discover the American frontier at the turn of the century, black history, military history, bicycle touring and more.
Montana, High Wide and Handsome
Author: Joseph Kinsey Howard
Description: This classic history by one of Montana's most talented, influential and significant authors was first published in 1943. A spirited, appreciative testimony to the great prairie, its indigenous peoples, geography, climate, turf battles, economy and environment, the book became an unquestioned landmark in Montana's literary history and is considered by many to be the most influential and evocative work every published about the state's past. This new edition includes a preface by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. and an introduction by William Kittredge
Glacial Lake Missoula and Its Humongous Floods
Author: David Alt
Description: Discover the earth history of a huge Ice Age lake that was repeatedly created by a dam of glacial ice at the border of Montana and Idaho. Water at the dam was 2000' deep and 900' deep at Missoula, stretching more than a hundred miles up several valleys. The dam washed out resulting in huge floods across Washington and out the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific. The dam reformed and washed out forty times or more. The author describes these events of ten to fifteen thousand years ago in layman's terms. A geology professor at the University of Montana, he co founded the popular Roadside Geology series.
Montana Pay-Dirt: A Guide to the Mining Camps of the Treasure State
Author: Muriel Sibell Wolle
Description: This history of Montana's most famous mining camps is accurately and thoroughly chronicled via Wolle's extensive archival research, fascinating interviews with old timers and her first-person stories. The sites were researched and visited in the early 1950s and include wonderful narrative of the author's explorations and adventures in the backroads of Montana's mountains. Wolle, a talented artist, illustrated this book with her 'handsome sketches of ghost town streetscapes.' The book endures as a standard history of Montana's mining frontier.
Author: Ladd Hamilton
Description: Three New York gentlemen arrived in Kendrick, Idaho in 1893 for the hunting trip of a lifetime. A veteran guide and a camp cook led them into the wilds of the Bitterroot Mountains. This well-documented account of events recreates the physical demands of a winter pack trip in the wilderness, human frailties and nature's unpredictability. Includes maps, illustrations and photographs.