History of Guard Stations: Final Report
My internship involved working with Kathy Campbell of the Walla Walla District of the Umatilla National Forest on a history of the guard stations in the district. The specific goal of this project was to produce a brief history of the guard stations, specified by Kathy, within the district, with the possibility of fire lookouts being added later if time permitted. The guard stations which Kathy wanted a history of included, Duncan, Fry Meadow, Long Meadows, Corporation, Timothy, Summit and Tollgate, with a special emphasis being placed on Fry Meadow Guard Station. The short histories of each guard station will be incorporated into information pamphlets pertaining to each of t he specified guard stations. These pamphlets will be used to promote a rental program which the district is initiating. Kathy said there is also a possibility that a web site, which will eventually be set up for the rental program, may also use these short histories at a later date.
It is Kathy's hope that the rental program will fund maintenance, upkeep and restoration of the guard stations so that they can be preserved. Kathy and other district employees have been donating some of their time refurbishing the Fry Meadow Guard Station. When I went to Fry Meadow Guard Station on September 15 and 16, to take pictures, I thought it looked great. The pine tree cutout which marks nearly all Civilian Conservation Corps construction projects completed for the forest service stands out prominently on Fry Meadow Guard Station. During this internship I took 12 pictures of Fry Meadow Guard Station, and three of Duncan Guard Station, on September 22 while on an Environmental Studies field trip.
Kathy suggested three sources of historical information which she felt would be useful in this project. The first of these sources was the Walla Walla district history file which was thoroughly researched between September 21 and 24. This research revealed only limited information regarding the naming of some of the guard stations. I did find the origins of a few of the names of the places where guard stations were built, but not much else. The second source of possible information mentioned by Kathy, was Umatilla National Forest Archeologist, Tommy Fulgham who works at the forest headquarters in Pendleton, Oregon. After some initial trouble contacting Tommy, I talked to him on November 2.
It was arranged for me to meet Tommy at the Umatilla National Forest Headquarters in Pendleton on November 6. As planned, I drove to Pendleton on November 6 and met Tommy who let me look through some forest historical information he had. I photocopied some the historical documents that I thought might be useful and borrowed two books written by Region Six Forest Historian Gail Throop. Gail Throop, was the third possible source of information mentioned by Kathy and her books were very useful for putting guard station construction in the proper historical context. On November 13, in Walla Walla, I also met Jill Bassett, the new Forest Historian who works out of the Pomeroy Ranger District. Jill provided me with some historical documents that she thought might have some references to the guard stations within the district. These documents contained the most specific information about each of the individual guard stations, including their dates of construction.
During our field trip to the Umatilla National Forest on September 22 I had a conversation with Walla Walla District Ranger Mary Gibson about the project and she mentioned a book written in 1940 by a former district historian Gerald Tucker. Some information was found in the reading of this book entitled History of the Northern Blue Mountains. Much of this information regarded the early Native American trails and stage routes which originally connected many of the sites on which the guard stations were later built. The book also contained some local information on the activities of the Civilian Conservation Corps who built many of the guard stations. I have also spent some time on the Internet conducting searches for more historical information on the Walla Walla district s guard stations and fire lookouts. Although some leads were produced in this research, nothing real substantial was found.
After looking through the material that I had gathered, I began to compile the history of the guard stations on November 20. I decided to use some of the information to create the historical context for forest guard station construction. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), built at least five of the seven guard stations during its existence, while Duncan Guard Station was built before the CCC. The guard stations were built for fire suppression, resource management and administrative purposes, after the creation of the Forest Service from the Forest Reserves in 1905.
Specific historical information was found pertaining to all of the guard stations, except for Timothy. The only thing I could find on Timothy was the origin of the name and its location. I would like to continue this research for a little while longer and see if some local sources could fill in some of the gaps in my information on the specific guard stations. Maybe some conversations with retired forest service employees could accomplish this. More general local historical information could also be used to develop a history of the locations where the guard stations were built. The location of Fry Meadow Guard Station was evaluated by the forest service as having the greatest cultural value in the Umatilla National Forest. I think that this is probably due to the fact that an important Nez Perce trail passed near this location and that the meadow itself was a favorite of the Nez Perce for camping and huckleberry picking. Maybe some local Native American historical information could be found on Fry Meadow. Later a couple of wagon roads also passed near Fry Meadow. I would have also liked to taken pictures of more of the guard stations in this project. Finding capable transportation, and the chunks of time needed before the road conditions deteriorated made it difficult to accomplish this.
I found the Forest Service to be very supportive in my internship. Kathy Campbell is a great person to have as a contact in an internship. Mary Gibson, Jill Bassett and Tommy Fulgham were all also extremely helpful in my search for historical information on the guard stations. This internship seemed to go pretty smoothly and all of my objectives were completed by the dates that I had planned on. My estimate for the amount of time I spent on this internship is approximately 45 hours.
The projects goal to create a history of the guard stations in the Walla Walla Ranger District has been pretty much accomplished, with the one exception being Timothy Guard Station. I plan to continue to look for more information on Timothy Guard Station after this semester is over, if I get the chance. I did however, get some historical information on Goodman Guard Station, since I had access to it. Kathy eventually decided against attempting to develop a history of fire lookouts. Maybe this will be the subject of a future internship.
This internship was a good experience for me and I really enjoyed it. It allowed me to get an inside view of the Forest Service and meet many great people who work for it. Hopefully the rental program that Kathy is trying to initiate will be a success. Guard stations represent a part of the Forest Service’s history and it would be sad to see some of them destroyed.