Ted Clarke Interview, July 23, 2021


Ted R. Clarke


Beth Hodder



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Ted Clarke discusses being born in Eureka, Montana and living in the “new” town of Rexford after Lake Koocanusa inundated their home during the Kootenai Dam construction. Ted remembers being 11 in 1955 when his dad, Ed, became the lookout at Webb Mountain Lookout above Eureka. Ted recalls his first experience with pack trains; hauling water from a spring ¼-mile below the lookout, sleeping with younger brother, Dave on the lookout floor; and learning to help with duties like using the alidade, taking the weather, and watching for storms. He tells of brother Dave and him gathering huckleberries and morel mushrooms; having squirrels, crows, and a dog as pets; playing with slingshots; and fishing Boulder Lake. Ted says he and Dave made their own “slide” (a zip line) out of #9 copper wire with a galvanized pipe as a handle. Ted remembers one rainstorm with the lightning protection humming and forming an electrical charge as big as a volleyball. He remembers the family each taking one side of the lookout recording lightning strikes for several hours. Ted recalls his father getting a job on Black Butte Lookout when Ted was 14. The family stayed there until his dad died in 1964. Ted tells of working for the U.S. Forest Service for a short while on Red Mountain Lookout in his teen years.


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Document Type

Oral History


Webb Mountain Lookout; Black Butte Lookout; Red Mountain Lookout; Fires; St. Elmo’s Fire; Childhood experiences; Rexford, Montana; Lake Koocanusa; Ed Clarke; Pearl Annabelle Clarke

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Northwest Montana Lookout Association Oral History Project, OH 453, 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 / library.archives@umontana.edu

Oral History Number

OH 453-015

Media Type

Sound; Text

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

01:11:16 minutes

Local Filename

OH_453_015.mp3; OH_453_015.pdf

Ted Clarke Interview, July 23, 2021