Category Archives: History

A hero of the North Fork

John Frederick - by Steven Gnam
John Frederick – by Steven Gnam

Tristan Scott of the Flathead Beacon posted a lengthy article on the passing of John Frederick.

See also John’s obituary . . .

Anyone who knew John Frederick is mourning the passing of a man who stood out as a pillar of the North Fork, the wild and scenic river corridor tracking the boundary of Glacier National Park, where he played prominent roles as affable innkeeper and ardent activist, a pioneering preservationist and honorary mayor who fought mightily to protect a place that captivated him for more than four decades.

By all accounts, he succeeded.

Frederick died Nov. 15 after a long struggle with bladder cancer. He was 74.

In the days following his death, friends and neighbors have reflected on his legacy as the unofficial “Mayor of Polebridge,” a well-deserved honorific that won’t soon be bestowed elsewhere as Frederick’s spirit presides over his beloved community and the environmental safeguards he fostered.

Read more . . .

Missoulian: North Fork bids goodbye to wildland advocate Frederick

John Frederick on his horse Skippy - photo by Kristian Denny
John Frederick on his horse Skippy – photo by Kristian Denny

Rob Chaney of the Missoulian posted an excellent article on yesterday’s passing of John Frederick. Rob put a lot of work into this on very short notice.

See also John’s obituary . . .

Friends of John Frederick mourn the passing of a man equally persuasive with grizzly bears on his screened porch and politicians pestering his beloved Polebridge.

The longtime advocate of all wild things along the North Fork of the Flathead River died of bladder cancer on Nov. 15. He was 74.

“We were friends, notwithstanding our opinions on natural resource things,” frequent debating foe Larry Wilson said Frederick. The two North Fork neighbors were famous for arguing opposite sides at public meetings and then carpooling home together.

Read more . . .

HHN: John Frederick, the ‘Mayor of Polebridge’ dies

John Frederick, North Fork Hero
John Frederick, North Fork Hero

Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News posted a nice tribute to John Frederick this week.

See also John’s obituary . . .

John Frederick, a North Fork icon, died on Wednesday morning after a long illness. He was 74.

Frederick, who was often referred to as the “Mayor of Polebridge” was one of the founding members of the North Fork Preservation Association in 1982. The association opposed the paving of the North Fork Road and promoted protection of the North Fork of the Flathead River from proposed coal mining operations in the Canada, a fight that lasted decades. He served as president for more than 30 years.

Frederick was an environmental advocate from an early age. In a 2001 Hungry Horse News interview, he recalled starting a group as a young man in his native Ohio called the “Waste Watchers.”

Read more . . .

‘Through Glacier Park’ a century later

Hiking in GNP

As if you didn’t already have a full schedule in December, here’s another worthwhile event, courtesy of the inimitable Chris Peterson’s love of hiking and photography . . .

On Dec. 16, local author and Hungry Horse News editor Chris Peterson will give a community presentation on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s book, “Through Glacier Park in 1915.”

Rinehart’s classic is a travelogue of her 300-mile journey through Glacier Park, during which she traveled on horseback through the park with a party of 40 people, including famed artist Charlie Russell.

A century later, in 2015, Peterson recreated Rinehart’s journey and her photographs, hiking 240 miles between April and September, meeting snow, rain, wind, heat, bears, and wildfires.

Hosted by the Glacier National Park Conservancy, Peterson’s free presentation will feature stories from his travels, and autographed copies of his book will be available for purchase, proceeds benefiting the conservancy.

The event takes place at Flathead Valley Community College’s Art and Technology building, at 7 p.m.

Keep reading . . .

A history of wildland fire in Glacier Park

Here’s a pretty interesting article posted to the Flathead Beacon that looks back at the history of wildfires in Glacier National Park . . .

Wildfires have played a prominent role in transforming the landscape of Glacier National Park throughout its 105-year history.

The Reynolds Creek Fire serves as the latest reminder of that incendiary influence as it burns over 2,000 acres in the St. Mary area. It’s the largest fire in the park since 2006, when the Red Eagle Fire scorched 34,000 acres.

The barren landscape along Lake McDonald, remnants of the 2003 Roberts Fire, which burned 57,570 acres in one summer, is perhaps the most visible example of fire’s powerful force and lasting effect. The fire was one of six massive blazes that burned more than 136,000 acres of land in Glacier that year, more than 13 percent of the preserve’s 1 million acres.

“The 2003 season is the pinnacle,” said Dennis Divoky, fire ecologist for the park.

But the fires of 2003 are only one chapter in the park’s long history shaped by fire and ash.

Read more . . .

Ron Wakimoto changed how we think about fire

Here’s a good write-up on Ron Wakimoto, an eminent fire researcher who has had a big impact on modern wildland fire management . . .

Some fire scientists burn down hillsides. Some burn up whole fire policies.

Ron Wakimoto has done both, developing research that helps save the lives of firefighters and helps return fire to the woods after a half-century of fighting to keep it out. Last week, he wound up more than three decades of teaching fire science at the University of Montana’s School of Forestry.

“Ron has been a leader in terms of teaching, and we wanted the students to be able to hear from an elder,” said Colin Hardy, director of the U.S. Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory, just before Wakimoto spoke to the annual Mike and Maybelle Hardy Lecture audience last Thursday. “He taught us we need to think about fire management, not just fire suppression. On the political and management side, it’s about air tankers and people on the ground and big iron – it’s a big show. But among fire managers today, Ron’s speaking to the choir.”

In large part, Wakimoto taught the choir…

Read more . . .

Flathead Forest Friday Focus: New Historic Districts

From a recent Flathead National Forest press release . . .

History is being made on the Flathead National Forest (FNF) with the recent designation of two National Historic Districts in the National Register of Historic Places; Big Creek Ranger Station, and FNF Backcountry Administrative Facilities.

The public is invited to learn about and discuss these National Historic Districts during the next Flathead Forest Friday on February 27, 2015 at the Nite Owl Back Room Restaurant on 8th Street West in Columbia Falls, Montana. The no-host breakfast chat starts at 7:00 AM. Attendees will learn about these unique facilities and why they were deemed worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Continue reading . . .

Wolf reintroduction 20 years later

Has it been only 20 years? . . .

Twenty years after their ancestors were released here in one of the most controversial wildlife projects of the century, wolf howls punctuated the cold winter air Monday to the delight of dozens of wolf watchers…

It was 1995 when the first eight wolves live-trapped in Canada were placed inside fenced enclosures in Yellowstone to acclimate them to the area in hopes they would not immediately bolt back to their homeland – called a soft release…

Read more . . .

Bob Marshall’s legacy

Carol Treadwell, executive director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, has a nice piece about Bob Marshall and the upcoming “Wilderness 50th” celebration in this week’s Hungry Horse News . . .

On the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 28, 1928, Bob Marshall departed Kalispell to embark on an eight-day hiking trip that would cover 288 miles and cross landmarks such as Mount Aeneus, White River Pass, the Chinese Wall, Big Prairie, Gordon Pass and Holland Pass and end at the Seeley Post Office.

Bob averaged 36 miles a day including “evening strolls” taken after dinner each evening.  Bob was 28 at the time and continued to put down epic hikes throughout his life and even courted gals who could match his stride for 20 miles.

His greatest life accomplishment, however, was to spearhead the public initiative for the protection of wild lands. In 1935, he helped form the Wilderness Society and was its first donor, contributing $1,000.

Read more . . .