Savenac Nursery Historic District

Creation of the National Forest Service in 1905 brought Elers Koch, one of the nation’s first professional foresters, to inspect and evaluate the Forest Reserves of Montana and Wyoming. Appointed Forest Supervisor of the Bitterroot and Lolo National Forests in 1907, Koch happened upon the abandoned homestead of a German settler named Savennach. He thought it a perfect spot to establish a tree nursery. Work began in 1908 and just as the first pine seedlings were ready for transplanting in 1910, fire swept through the region scorching 3 million acres of timberland. The nursery was destroyed, but the disaster influenced Forest Service policy, making fire prevention and conservation its primary mission. Reforestation of burned and logged areas figured prominently in that goal. Savenac Nursery was ideally situated along two railroad routes and the historic Mullan Road ran right through the property. The nursery was immediately rebuilt. Circa 1912 national road improvements incorporated the new Yellowstone Trail into this segment of the Mullan Road and by 1916, Savenac shipped several million seedlings to the vast Northern Region. The Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt and modernized the facility a final time between 1932 and 1948. Savenac became the largest tree nursery in the northwest producing up to twelve million trees annually. The nursery operated until regional reorganization brought closure in 1969. Savenac Nursery, where much of the theory and practice of silviculture was pioneered, reflects the conservation ethic of the Forest Service.

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Haugan, Montana ~ Public