Ninemile Remount Depot

Who knew the U.S. Forest Service has a Remount Depot? The Missoulian has an interesting article about how the agency overwinters 214 horses and mules at a facility 20 miles northwest of Missoula, MT. The mules are used to resupply fire lookout towers, bring supplies to firefighters working on remote lightning-caused fires, and assist with trail maintenance.

Here is the first part of the article:

NINEMILE – As the sun was rising on a cold, quiet morning, 214 sets of ears tipped forward in the same direction, listening with anticipation as a hay truck started.

Tendrils of steam drifted from the many nostrils in the giant group of mostly mules as they stood statue-still, concentrating on the sound.

When it was obvious the truck was headed their way, hooves set to motion in an eager trot, kicking up freshly fallen snow as the long-eared herd moved to meet its breakfast at the pasture gate.

“Every year they come together here from across the Northern Region to winter,” explained Laura Johnson, the resources assistant with the Ninemile Remount Depot and Historic Ranger Station.

Smiling at the sight of the gentle giants, Johnson said, “They are all really friendly and get along well with each other…


Thanks go out to Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Ninemile Remount Depot”

  1. There is a small Visitors center there staffed by volunteers in the summer. There is a self guided tour of the grounds. There is also a blacksmith shop and a harness shop. Neither are open to the public. Its does not appear tha tthe balcsmith shop is in use but it is complete. I would speculate that the horses and mules are probably shod by a private farrier now who is hired by the Forest Service. The harness shop apears to still be in operation.

    Camp Menard is a few miles North of the Nine Mile Remount Depot. Originally is it was a CCC camp and some of the early smokejumper training took place there. There are some interpretive signs and a rock fire place and some foundations left.

    I dont know the species of tree that grows up the Nine Mile, but there are some very tall trees in the area and the smokejumpers uses them to practice let downs.

  2. Glad to hear they are still being used. In 1937 dad as a ROTC cadet had to learn to ride with the army at summer camp. He had worked on the family farm and knew how to handle horses. Many cadets had not and he found it humorous to see his city slicker companions learn the hard way.

  3. Three or four years ago there was an article out of Great Falls Mt. about how the USFS out of Choteau, Mt. let several of their pack and riding animals starve to death during the winter. I believe the article also mentioned someone was going to get charged with some type of crime. Also two years ago in Southen Calif. there was news articles about the Sequoia-Kings National Park entire pack string dying of thrist out on their winter pasture on a National Wildlife Refuge in the San Joaquin Valley, because someone forget to check on the water. Apparently a water line broke somewhere. As a retired USFS employee its nice to see at least some of our animal employees are being well taken care after working hard during the summer. I too have horses and mules and they need to be checked on daily. Congrats to the Ninemile crew for being such dedicated employees.

  4. The old West and USFS are still around. My Pop
    was a horse wrangler up until about 1939, he sold
    horses to the US Calvary. The USFS was a customer
    too. He’d love this article..


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