20/35 Year Look Back
August 12, 2021
In celebration of 35 years of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, each week we will run parts of articles that appeared in the issue 35 years ago and 20 years ago. The entire issue will be uploaded to our website seeleylake.com for you to enjoy. We hope you will enjoy the journey with us as we follow our community through the past 35 years as documented by the Pathfinder.
35 years ago: Aug. 14, 1986 issue
Bill Samsel: District Ranger at Seeley in 1929
Few people remember the Forest Service today the way that Bill Samsel, Missoula, does. He was the District Ranger here from 1929 through 1941.
"They didn't even think I needed a clerk then," he chuckled, thinking about how the Forest Service operates today. Samsel worked with a few good foresters and loggers, marking timber sales and supervising trail and road crews. "They let me run the District like it was my own ranch," he said. "There was very little overhead control."
The first Forest Service timber sale in the area was "right across the lake from here," Samsel said, as he visited with other "old timers" at the Perro reunion last weekend, west of Seeley Lake.
The Big Blackfoot Milling Company parent company to Anaconda Mining Company, logged most of the timber in those depression-era days. On Stump Prairie, near where the Seeley Lake Airport is now located, the company logged huge, mature tamarack trees, according to Samsel.
During the, winter, the logs were "decked" along the river and when the ice went out in the spring, "we drove 'em all the way down, across the-river, across Salmon Lake and down to Bonner," he recalled.
Samsel was also instrumental in organizing and training the first smokejumpers for the Forest Service. "We trained 'em here at Seeley Lake. We furnished bed and board here at the ranger station ... they took many of our men into the jumpers," he continued, "They knew if I recommended them, they'd be good men."
"One summer they had three of my own boys in the jumpers," he said. Hal Samsel stayed with the smokejumpers the longest, retiring from the Forest Service after 22 years of service, according to Bill.
Smokejumpers were here for good reason, according to Samsel. The depression era coincided with a nationwide drought....
20 years ago: Aug. 16, 2001 issue
A long walk for a good cause
Local Boy Scouts Michael Biggins and Daniel Whipple raised money for the American Cancer Society's fundraiser Relay for Life.
The Relay for Life is a 24-hour event held last July 21st in Missoula at the Dornblaser track. Teams get together to raise money for the fight against cancer. The teams must have at least one member of their team walking on the track for the complete 24 hours.
Biggins and Whipple were members of Community Medical Center's team. The boys raised over $300 for the Cancer Society. They walked on the track for a little over 18 hours and ended up walking a distance of 30 miles.