Bill Fordyce Interview, December 7, 2021


William C. Fordyce


Beth Hodder, Kjell Petersen



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Download Transcript of Bill Fordyce interview (552 KB)

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Bill Fordyce discusses being born in St. Louis and moving as a child to Sheridan, Wyoming where he lived on a dude ranch. He describes his family later moving back to St. Louis, but Bill couldn’t take city life and left after high school for the West. He said a friend in Helena, Montana suggesting he apply for a lookout job and was hired in 2009 for his first lookout job at Bearhat Lookout for the Lewis and Clark National Forest. He discusses being sent to work with no training, his first fire was one tree, and his season ending with the death of his mother. In 2010, back at Bearhat, Bill remembers reporting a mule breaking a woman’s knees. With a storm coming, a helicopter barely got her out. Bill’s most traumatic season was 2011 because he experienced responding to a death. The interview was stopped at this point because of technical difficulties. It was continued as OH 000-020 on December 9, 2021.


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Document Type

Oral History


Bill Fordyce; Patrol Lookout; Prairie Reef Lookout; Beartop Lookout; Scalplock Lookout; Numa Lookout; Cyclone Lookout; Middle Fork Peak Lookout; Corral Hill Lookout; Polebridge, Montana; Bob Marshall Wilderness

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 /

Oral History Number

OH 453-019

Media Type

Moving Image; Sound; Text

Digital Format

video/mp4; application/pdf; text/plain

Run Time

00:29:59 minutes

Local Filename

OH_453_019.mp3; OH_453_019.pdf;

Bill Fordyce Interview, December 7, 2021