Ant Flat Ranger Station
Little was known about Montana’s vast, unmapped wilderness when presidential proclamations set aside U.S. forest reserves during the 1890s. In 1904, this site became one of the region’s first year-round ranger stations. Ample water, land suitable for pasture and domestic gardens, proximity to heavy timberlands, and access to the Great Northern Railway made Ant Flat an ideal location. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed his friend Fred Herrig, a decorated Rough Rider, its first ranger. The primitive facility grew and by the end of Herrig’s tenure in 1920, this strategically positioned district within the Blackfeet Forest Reserve was top-rated for fire detection, prevention, and control. Although no original log buildings remain at Ant Flat, lilac bushes Herrig planted mark the site of the first primitive headquarters. The remaining buildings of the historic complex date to post 1920 when the Forest Service began to serve a wider traveling public. As use of national forests increased, the appearance of official facilities became more important and the Forest Service sought to harmonize its buildings with the environment. Ant Flat Station reflects these trends. The six-stall log barn (1921-1925) recalls the earlier construction phases and the importance of pack animals. The less “rustic” Craftsman style office/warehouse (1927), gas and oil storage building (1932), and garage and mechanic shop (1934) are a more formal expression of the Forest Service ethic. Ant Flat became a seasonal work center in 1963 but its presence chronicles the evolution of the Forest Service from its beginning through the formative 1920s and 1930s.