Bayard Van Gieson


Carlie Magill



Download Audio Interview (62.6 MB)

Download Transcript of Bayard Van Gieson Interview (307 KB)


U.S. Forest Service photographer Bayard “Bob” Van Gieson discusses attending Montana State University in Bozeman for engineering, serving in the Air Force during World War Two, then working as a logger when he returned. He talks about changing his career focus from engineering to forestry because he loved the outdoors. Van Gieson notes that his previous education in engineering proved beneficial when he was hired by Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service, because he could go into the backcountry and survey for roads. He recalls taking a camera on these trips and photographing hard-to-access areas, including a trail between East Rosebud Lake and Cooke City. Van Gieson describes acquiring a love of photography from his mother, an adept photographer even with simple equipment such as a kerosene lantern and colored slides. Van Gieson shares his memories of working with Winston “Curly” Steuerwald, another Forest Service photographer, and he talks about photographing land transects to prove overgrazing in the Custer National Forest. He concludes by discussing Region 1’s photography program, which he says wasn’t a well-coordinated effort, but something undertaken by individual forests for specific projects.


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Document Type

Oral History


Kootenai National Forest; Custer National Forest; U.S. Forest Service; Region 1, U.S. Forest Service; Lolo National Forest; Missoula, Montana; U.S. Forest Service photography; Range management; Road construction; Road surveying; Firefighting; K.D. Swan; Winston “Curly” Steuerwald; Photographic research; Aerial photography; Forestry; Montana State University, Bozeman; University of Montana, Missoula

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Forestry, Land Use, and Conservation Oral History Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 /

Oral History Number

OH 440-001

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

1 sound file (00:49:06 min.) digital + 1 transcript (12 p.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

00:49:06 minutes

Local Filename

OH_440_001.mp3; OH_440_001.pdf