The National Smokejumper Association Colorado Chapter site for information on trail and work projects taking place in Colorado. Maintained by Bill Ruskin (CJ '58).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Smokejumpers Return to Glade Station

Former Active Smokejumpers Help Restore Historic Guard Station

By Gwen Ernst-Ulrich, Rocky Mountain Region

For the second year in a row, former active smokejumpers recently joined other volunteers and San Juan Public Lands Center* (Colorado) workers to help restore the historic Glade Guard Station on the San Juan National Forest Dolores Ranger District.

Thirteen National Smokejumper Association (NSA) volunteers along with five local volunteers and San Juan Public Lands archaeologists Julie Coleman and Elaine Sherman had a very productive week June 5 to 11. The group re-shingled and painted the garage and shed; established a new trail; installed new shutters and a porch railing; and repainted the entire main structure.

At week's end the forest treated volunteers to a barbeque attended by Dolores District personnel, including District Ranger Steve Beverlin.

The Glade Guard Station is a classic American site. Its remote setting in Dolores County and its historic structures are pages right out of a western history book.

The station was established in 1905 when a small log cabin was constructed as an administrative facility for the Glade District of the Montezuma National Forest, now part of the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest.

In 1916 the existing structures came into being when a wood-frame building replaced the log cabin as the administrative facility/residence for the guard station and a barn was built.

In the 1930s, a camp associated with the Lone Dome Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was set up adjacent to the station. During this time minor modifications were made to the residence, and a garage, meat house (later used as a tool shed), and outhouse were constructed. The CCC also built rockwork culverts and drains. The guard station continued to serve various functions until the 1970s.

The Glade Guard Station remains remarkably unchanged, a virtual time capsule harkening back to the early days when the lone district ranger was “guarding” the national forests.

The retired smokejumpers were pleased to be a part of the guard station’s history. One of NSA’s missions is to help maintain and restore the nation’s forest and grassland resources through the NSA Trail Maintenance and Restoration program.

Bill Ruskin, who worked seasonally for the Forest Service in the 1960s, said the Smokejumper TRAMPS, or Trail Restoration and Maintenance Project Specialists, began taking on projects similar to the Glade Guard Station a decade ago, donating energy and expertise across the nation in such places as Alaska, Minnesota, and Montana.

The 13-member NSA crew involved in the San Juan project, veterans of three decades of smokejumping, approached the experience with the same efficiency and expediency as one sees on a wildland fire incident, making them a very effective team.

“What a unique opportunity for smokejumpers from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s to come together as a unit to accomplish important restoration work on the historic Glade Guard Station on the San Juan National Forest,” Ruskin said. Page 1 of 2Former Active Smokejumpers Help Restore Historic Guard Station 7/9/09 11:43 AM

Richard Hilderbrand, whose smokejumper training took place in Missoula, Montana in 1966, acted as the project squad boss, matching work to be done with the skills and physical capabilities of the volunteers.

“These energetic fellows are all past smokejumpers who went on from their smokejumping years to work successfully in a variety of other careers, but those early experiences led them to want to make a contribution to the Forest Service through projects such as this,” Hilderbrand said.

Hilderbrand spoke of the hard work blended with pleasant camaraderie throughout the week. “We had fun while accomplishing something important,” he said.

After restoration is complete, the forest plans to offer the residence as a recreation rental cabin.

A grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the San Juan Public Lands Center funded this year's work.

“This ‘can-do’ group got more work done than originally planned!” said Coleman. “We hope to carry on the hard work started by the National Smokejumper Association so future generations can experience the Glade Guard Station.”

For more information on the partnership efforts involved in this project, contact Coleman at (970) 385-1250. Click here>>> for more information on the National Smokejumper Association.

*The San Juan Public Lands Center is a Service First Organization consisting of the San Juan National Forest and a Bureau of Land Management unit.

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