Suspicious fires in Glacier National Park leave a historic structure destroyed

The Ford Creek Patrol Cabin burned

Ford Creek Patrol Cabin burned arson fire
Ford Creek Patrol Cabin. NPS photo.

In northern Montana Thursday morning seven fires were discovered in Glacier National Park in the North Fork area. Park spokesperson Gina Kerzman said they have all been controlled but the Ford Creek Patrol Cabin built in 1928 which is on the National Register of Historic Places was destroyed.

Due to the suspicious nature of the fires, several investigators are on scene including the FBI and the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch, which is assisting remotely.

Anyone with information about the fires is urged to call 406-888-7077.

Resources responding to the fires included local county, state, and federal agencies with hotshot crews, engine crews, and law enforcement personnel.

The Ford Creek Patrol Cabin was built in 1928. The rustic log structure was a significant resource both architecturally and historically as part of a network of shelters approximately one day’s travel apart used by patrolling backcountry rangers.

The nomination of the Ford Creek Patrol Cabin to be on the National Register of Historic Places prepared in 1984 included this description:

“In 1928, Glacier National Park appropriated $2,000 for the construction of four identical snowshoe cabins. The Park hired private contractors to erect the buildings since the staff carpenter force was occupied with construction at Belton headquarters. Documents do not indicate the names of the contractors, although invitations to bid were sent to “several good log men in the vicinity.” The Park provided floor shiplap, roofing materials, cement, okem (chinking), cellar planks, windows and doors and their frames, shakes, and hardware. The contractor cleared the site, cut trees marked by the Park Engineer, built the cabin, and cleared the site.

“The project took three weeks and the cost for all materials and labor totaled $350. This cabin is one of many similar structures built in Glacier National Park during the 1920s and 1930s to facilitate the supervision of lands within the park boundaries. The park’s rugged topography and the often rapidly changing weather conditions made it imperative that these cabins be built at strategic points to protect rangers charged with park surveillance. The cabins were usually located 8 to 12 miles from a permanent ranger station. Thus, a park ranger could spend a number of days on patrol duty without returning to the station for supplies or shelter. The Ford Creek patrol cabin is significant because it illustrates an important aspect in the development and administration of Glacier National Park.

“It is a one-story, rectangular log structure with new corrugated metal on a gable roof, a metal stove pipe, and nine log purlins. The wall logs are saddle notched with sapling chinking and square-cut crowns. There is a concrete alignment foundation under the structure and porch posts. The roof extends to a full porch with a tie beam and vertical pole beneath the ends of seven purlins. There are shakes in the gable ends. The door is solid wood and “bear-proofed.” The windows are iron bars woven with barbed wire over six-light, wood frame casements. The structure is in good condition.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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. Google+

5 thoughts on “Suspicious fires in Glacier National Park leave a historic structure destroyed”

  1. I can’t help, but to ask, what’s going on? Where is this going, where will it stop. For this what’s the point?
    It really makes me mad.

  2. Pyromaniacs and arsonists should be tracked and monitored at least as closely as sex offenders.

  3. We have a very similar cabin that was built circa WWI on our ranch. We should get it on the register. the only modification was to put a tin roof over the hand split cedar shake roof that leaked and a new floor in half of the cabin. It was built on a rock foundation so we had to jack the whole thing up and replace two bottom logs. It has the old dovetail log joint construction.

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