Articles written by Steve Lamar


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  • Bud Moore's passion for wild country

    Steve Lamar, of The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Jan 4, 2024

    Well-known author and forester Bud Moore began trapping at the age of fourteen and spent several winters in the 1930s running trap lines in the Lochsa backcountry. After working over 40 years with the US Forest Service, he retired in 1974. Anxious to get back to his roots and the land, he and his wife Janet moved to Swan Valley where they managed their 80-acre Coyote Forest. Later, he wrote the book, The Lochsa Story: Land Ethics in the Bitterroot Mountains. Beginning in 1983 at the age of 66, he spent a couple of winters living out of a tent...

  • The Swan Valley Community Hall: The heart of our community

    Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Oct 26, 2023

    The old log building that stands at the corner of Highway 83 and Glacier Creek Road has been Swan Valley’s Community Hall for the past 84 years. Built from 1938-39, this treasured building is widely used as a central gathering place and is the cornerstone of our community. The Swan Valley Community Hall is located on land that once had two unsuccessful homestead attempts beginning in 1916 by N.J. Frye and later by Joseph Griffin in 1917. A third attempt by Jesse Forster was successful after he filed on the 160-acre parcel in 1919 and proved u...

  • Fire Lookouts in the Swan Valley

    Sharon and Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Jun 15, 2023

    Whether by natural lightning or by human hands, the landscape in Swan Valley has been shaped by fire. Only in the past hundred years or so have there been organized, concentrated efforts to suppress forest fires. During the historic forest fire of 1910, over three million acres burned in the course of a few days, primarily in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, drastically changing the way the U. S. Forest Service dealt with wildfire. Pushed by strong winds, several small fires grew together,... Full story

  • Shoemaker's treks in the Mission Mountains

    Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Jan 12, 2023

    If you were to look at a map of the Mission Mountains 100 years ago, you would see a lot of blank space. Except for verbal descriptions and sketches shared by the early-day Native people, priests, trappers, hunters, and prospectors, the Mission Mountains were, for the most part, uncharted at that time. McDonald Peak was one of the few mountains named on the early maps. Most of the mountains, lakes, streams, and other features were not shown. Many of the place names on the present-day maps of...

  • Northern Pacific Railroad's influence on the Upper Swan Valley

    Sharon and Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Mar 17, 2022

    Editor's Note: Part I, run in the March 10 issue, highlighted the start of the Northern Pacific Railroad's influence on the Upper Swan Valley through the early 1900's. Although the upper Swan Valley was primarily settled by homesteaders staking claims on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands, some settlers purchased Northern Pacific (NP) lands for as low as $1.25 an acre, usually in 80- or 160-acre parcels. The Haasch family who homesteaded a USFS parcel later bought an additional 160 acres...

  • Northern Pacific Railroad's influence on the Upper Swan Valley

    Sharon and Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Mar 10, 2022

    Many people are not aware that the Northern Pacific Railway Company (NP) had a significant influence on the settlement, economy and timber industry of the upper Swan Valley. Looking at a current map of the upper Swan Valley, you might ask, "What influence?" No railways are located in the valley, nor are any Northern Pacific properties listed on the current maps. A closer look at the early history of the settlement in the upper Swan Valley reveals something quite different. Maps of the early...

  • A Historical Journey through Bob Marshall Country

    Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Oct 21, 2021

    It had been a long day on the trail in 1996 as I slowly worked my way toward the top of the ridge clearing downfall from the trail. When I reached the top of the ridge, the land opened up and the views were especially beautiful as the late evening sunshine cast a golden hue across the landscape. Overhead, a few reddish, wispy clouds contrasted the deep, cobalt blue sky. A nearby hermit thrush began its melodic song. I was less than a hundred yards from a trail intersection that would lead me to my camp. I came around a slight bend in the trail...

  • Bob Marshall's epic trip of 1928: The final two days

    Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Jul 4, 2019

    A legendary advocate for wild country, 27-year-old Bob Marshall hiked an astounding 288 miles in eight days during the summer of 1928. Much of his arduous backcountry trip took place in the wilderness that would later bear his name. Over the years I have explored and hiked much of the area in the Mission Mountains that Bob Marshall visited during the final two days of his trip 91 years ago. I climbed most of the mountains he climbed and camped in the same area he camped. While Bob Marshall...