Big Creek Ranger Station Historic District

The Big Creek Ranger Station served as an administrative center for managing logging and firefighting in the remote North Fork of the Flathead River valley. Set aside for a ranger station in 1908, the site was surveyed in 1911, after the 1910 “Big Burn” invigorated the U.S. Forest Service’s commitment to fighting fire. A seasonal log house served as summer quarters for patrolmen during fire season. Conveniently located on the “main wagon road,” Big Creek saw further development in 1917-18. USFS replaced these early buildings between 1927 and 1942, developing the complex according to a 1931 site plan that followed region-wide patterns. After creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, Big Creek housed seasonal CCC workers, who made many improvements, including constructing new buildings following simple, pattern-book designs. These designs reflected the agency’s practical rustic aesthetic, a utilitarian emphasis on rural self-sufficiency, and Craftsman style detailing. The 1960s saw the creation of Interagency Fire Suppression crews, including one that based its seasonal fire camp at Big Creek. USFS relocated a second bunkhouse from the Coram Ranger Station to house these expanded crews and built three new buildings. The Big Creek Work Center, as it became known, operated for two decades, until firefighting centers in Boise and elsewhere eclipsed the need for remote stations like Big Creek. During the 1980s, the Big Creek firefighting center and ranger station closed. The buildings went unused until 1989, when the forest service authorized the Glacier Institute to house educational programs for young people.

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North Fork Road, Polebridge, Montana ~ Private