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Pole Creek Ranger Station Offers Peek at Firefighting a Century Ago
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Sunday, August 26, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The historic Pole Creek Ranger Station near the Bible Back Fire, which is currently torching subalpine fir 11 miles northeast of Smiley Creek, offers some interesting observations about firefighting a century ago.

One of the interpretive signs notes how Ranger Bill Horton spent eight hours on fire patrol on July 27 after spotting smoke that seemed to be coming from the south.

He rode up to the head of Gladiator Pass so he could look over the East Fork of the Salmon. Then he rode up to a high peak at the head of Pole Creek.

He never did, however, spot the source of the smoke.

An even more telling sign describes how on Sept. 11, 1915, Horton saw smoke on Jackson’s Reserve. Checking it out, he found that campers had failed to put out their campfire and wind had carried it into a bunch of spruce.

Horton rode back to a sheep camp where he got a bucket and shovel. He dug a trench around the fire, packed some water from a nearby creek and smothered it out.

“It burned about two rods square,” he said, referring to a surveyor’s tool that’s 5.5 yards long, “And three big spruce trees.”

“Think it was a hunting party that left their fire, as there were chicken feathers around the camp and automobile track,” he added.

Fire suppression: Seven hours.

Oh, for the days when fighting fires was so simple!

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