History of the Buildings on the Yellowstone Nature Connection’s Campus
Originally known as the Madison National Forest’s Ranger Station, the four buildings of which it was comprised were built in 1924. An engineer, Clyde Fickes, and four rangers completed the 1st building in two weeks. Fickes used this station to teach rangers log construction which became the standard for future stations. It wasn’t until 1935 that Fickes finally wrote a manual to this end.
This station was evacuated by the forest service when a new and larger facility was later built north of West Yellowstone. Then Yellowstone National Park used the facilities another 10 years.
The National Smokejumper Center, a 501 non-profit entity, was using the property for educational purposes when the property and its buildings ended up on the “surplus properties” list and were slated for sale and/or demolition.
It was at this point that the idea was born to move the buildings to preserve their historical significance for future generations. After much discussion and a lot of cooperation from many involved groups and entities, the buildings were moved to the present location. The National Smokejumper Center and its founding fathers were instrumental in this endeavor and became the first tenants and will administer the property under the name of Yellowstone Nature Connection. The first buildings were moved in 2011.
Building #1 – The Station Office
The station office was the center of operations for the ranger and his crew. It was the base for communications with towers located at strategic places throughout the forest. In the evenings, meals were prepared there for the crew if not out on fires. Today the office houses a store-front with a small operations office in the rear.
Building #2 – The Barn
A barn was needed for the livestock, horses and pack mules, which were the first mode of transportation used by the ranger and his crew. Of course, tack and feed were required with the presence of animals. When the automobile was put into use, the barn was used for storage. The future plan calls for the barn to house a museum to display all the artifacts of a bygone era.
Building # 3 – The Ranger Residence
The ranger residence was used by the ranger and his family as he was required to live there at all times. The job was not one of the “9 to 5” natures. The residence consisted of 2 bedrooms, a living/dining area, and a kitchen. In West Yellowstone the town grew around the station affording the family some means of socialization. It was still considered a primitive post as there was no electricity when first established and the only way to get to West Yellowstone was by horse or train. It was some years later that electricity finally arrived in town.
Building #4 – The Garage/Shop
As the automobile came into use, the need for a garage/shop became apparent. The shop was used to repair and maintain tools as well as the vehicles. The building has been and will continue to be used as an educational facility. Lectures and videos offer a means of educating the public on fire ecology.