Our job here at Mystic was to thin trees and trails. On week ends we would visit ares of the hills i.e. Rushmore National Memorial, Dead Wood, the Eye of the needle and Pig Tail Hi- way, Pres. Hoovers Summer Retreat ner Sylvian Lake. Crazy Horse Monument was just being painted on the rocks and Capt. Anderson came here to launch his try for the hot Air Ballon Altitude record. As I remember He had some difficulty after launch and gave up. Here I was given an opportunity to go to a truck drivers school at Ft. Meade, S.D. and won a five inch star to put on the grill of my 1933 Dodge G.I. truck. Our stay he re was very short right after Christmas we got our orders to move to Salmon, Idaho the 12th of January 1936. So we started to get ready to leave the banana belt of S,D. Upcomes a first class train with lots of box cars and pullman cars for us to live in for two days as we rolled toward Armstead, Montana accross snow covered midwest toward the mountain area.
At Armstead we were transferred to the Armstead Salmon Line which goes west over the mountains into the Lemhi valley thence to Salmon, Ida. This train was the most delapidated train I have ever seen. The passanger coaches had 2X10 planks for seats, there were old coal oil lamps that hardly gave out one candle power, this was winter and eventide. The heat in the coach was an old cast iron potbe11 witch put out hardly any heat so we were cold before we got going. About twenty five miles west of town going up about a five percent grade the back half of the train broke lose and started rolling back down toward Armstead and the emergency brake would not work. The engineer aparently sensed the light load and looked back to see what was wrong. He came to a screeching halt and sped back toward our free running train and caught up locked in stoped and the way we went up the mountain with many switch back, Going on down the valley we finally arrived at the Salmon Station to 12 inches of snow on the platform and several tables of doughnut and hot chocolate, boy was that a treat. I'm happy for kind thinking women who did this for us. We were then loaded into forest and GI trucks for the 60 miles down the Salmon River the "River of No Return" to Ebenezer Bar our new Camp ground Called Camp F-401. Since I have left this area, study about ancient civilization has revealed that the earliest people on the continnent made their home on this bar the mouth of Ebenezer Creek. In this area we were only three miles from the wilderness Area of Idaho.
At this forest service camp our job was to continue building the road down the river toward Riggins Idaho, who were building the road toward us. .This road building was real slow going because of almost solid rock at least 80% rock which meant a lot of jack hammers and blasting. The morning after my arrival the captain said Leland you and Thompson the company clerk are going to Pocatello to a company clerk school which lasted for one week. When we got back to camp the Captain sent me back to Pocatello Headquarters to attend a swimmers resque class because we where so close to a fast rapid filled river,as long as I was at Camp F-401 I never did have to use it. But while I was at the resgue school I was asked to drive a truck in a convoy to Tearace Springs in the north west corner of Yellowstone. It was in the middle of winter and there was a lot of snow, the snow plows managed to keep the road open to the camp, but very little work was being done, but it was a beautiful sight and trip. Upon returning to camp I took up my job as a payroll clerk, camp power plant maintenance person and ambulance and second string GI truck driver and the Capitan checked me out on the Colt 45 and I became the pay roll driver.
In the summer our camp was split up three ways, one a spike camp north of the river and one camp south of thre river and the balance working on tdhe road. These spike camps where high in the mountains building fire trails and maintaining fire watches in tower high enough so they covered a lot of terratory. By tri-angulation they could spot the location of a lightin strike and if fire put a small crew of men there to put it out. We need more of that today and we wouln't have so much timber burned up. I was at camp and in conjuction with the superintendent would haul supplies, shows etc to the spike camp.
Our camp Doctor Captain Stone and I had to cut off the foot of a young man who got his foot in t he way of a eight foot rolling stone. We used a 1918 field kit a very primitive piece of surgical equipment. I applied the ether thru the old drip mask system. I also helped him with tonsil removals and hauledf oxygen for pneumonia patients. Appendectomys we would transport to Hamilton City Hospital in Montana about one hundred twenty miles from camp.
612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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