The Northwest Montana Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (NWMT-FFLA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic fire lookouts on Federal and State lands in Northwest Montana. As part of their preservation and documentation activities, members of NWMT-FFLA are conducting oral histories with former lookout personnel and their family members. The interviews are held as Oral History collection OH-453 at Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana.
This collection includes 2 interviews.
Dale Zorn describes his childhood in Chester, Montana. He talks about working for the U.S. National Park Service as a fire lookout on Mount Brown soon after he married. Zorn recalls packing supplies up to the lookout, melting snow to get water, and the accommodations and modern conveniences that were available to him and his wife. He also reminisces about his daily responsibilities as a lookout which included chasing lightning strikes. Zorn discusses married life as a lookout and mentions what he and his wife did to pass the long hours such as play cards.
Julia Osborn talks about her father, Joe Osborn who was a former smokejumper, forest fire lookout, and university professor. Osborn discusses her father’s childhood in Muncie, Indiana, and his time attending Purdue University. Osborn describes how her father, a Quaker and a conscientious objector, joined the Civilian Public Service during World War Two and volunteered as a smoke jumper in Missoula, Montana. She discusses how her parents met and their honeymoon in 1948, which was spent working at a fire tower. Osborn describes her father’s activities such as accessing the lookout, collecting snow for water, and getting re-outfitted by packers.