Betty Violette Interview, February 14, 2024


Betty Ann Violette


Mark Huftstetler; C. Kjell Petersen; Beth Hodder



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Download Audio file for Betty Violette interview (71.9 MB)

Download Transcript of Betty Violette interview (599 KB)

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Betty Violette shares stories of her eleven seasons as a fire lookout in Montana's Flathead National Forest (FNF) and Kootenai National Forest (KNF). Betty grew up in St. Ignatius, Montana, and struggled to find her career path. She discusses wanting to be an artist but working in New York City made her realize that wasn’t for her. She then became a lookout in 1966. Betty describes working at Kenalty Lookout in the KNF, where she hiked to get there. She enjoyed a cat as her companion. She recalls radio communications, weather duties, and successfully reporting a fire. She recounts encountering a moose, a humorous encounter with a badger, and a packrat that left sticks on the catwalk. Through the 1960s and 1970s, she talks of using metal cans for water, using the same water for washing dishes and clothes and bathing. She says she worked long hours with limited breaks and constant monitoring. She recounts a storm hitting one of her towers, causing damage, and a near miss with lightning. Betty talks of enjoying the solitude on lookouts, staying a whole season without returning to town. She talks of being thrilled to work at Baptiste Lookout in the 1970s. She said she believes she was the last lookout at Baptiste and Cyclone and possibly Firefighter Lookouts before they closed [All three FNF lookouts are now open again]. Betty says being a lookout shaped her life because it kept her in an outdoor environment in Montana.


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Document Type

Oral History


Kenalty Lookout; Baptiste Lookout; Cyclone Lookout; Firefighter Lookout; Women lookouts; Ben Bannon; Doug Peacock; Montana lookout experiences

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century; Twenty-first 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 453-030

Media Type

Moving Image; Sound; Text

Original Format

video/mp4; application/pdf; text/plain

Digital Format

video/mp4; application/pdf; text/plain

Run Time

01:11:30 minutes

Local Filename

OH_453_030.mp4; OH_453_030.m4a; OH_453_030.pdf;

Betty Violette Interview, February 14, 2024