Holcomb Homestead

Oral History Interviews

Beginning in the Fall 2011, members of the North Fork History Project began to record the oral histories of people who have lived in the North Fork for a long time.

Here’s a list of the interviews posted so far. Most entries include a photo of the person interviewed, a brief summary of their background, and links to both the actual audio and a written transcript. Click the person’s name to jump to their interview — or feel free to just browse around.

(Background materials can be found on the Oral History Project Documents page.)

Esther Chrisman
Mid Connelly
Lee & Marietta Downes
Tom Edwards
Bud Evans & April Donahoe
Wallace & Margery Donaldson
Karen Feather
John Frederick
Bob Grimaldi
Ray Hart
Fern Hart
Gary Haverlandt
Richard Hildner
Duke Hoiland
Naomi Hoiland
Joe Lang
Wynona “Nonie” Mathison
Alan McNeil
Cecily McNeil
Ed “Mac” McNeil
George McFarland
Peter Moore & Ruth Tacheny
Bob & Betty Olson
Carl & Linda Pittman
Kay Rosengren
Robert Ross
Pat Walsh
Larry Wilson
Ivan Windsheimer


Esther Chrisman

Esther Chrisman
Esther Chrisman

Esther was born in Illinois in 1927 to parents who were immigrants from Norway. She met her husband, Baird, in college and they were married in 1948. They started traveling west together to visit the Rockies. They visited their friends, Orville and Helen Foreman, who had purchased the Petersen homestead in 1948. Esther and Baird camped at Avalanche Lake and did lots of hiking in Glacier Park. They brought their son Allen to Montana in 1952 when he was three months old. They bought the Bart Monahan Homestead in 1958. They knew many of the original homesteaders.

Esther Chrisman passed on July 30, 2016 in Kalispell. She had turned 89 on July 12th. She was much loved by North Forkers and will be missed.

Esther Chrisman at her 89th birthday
Esther Chrisman at her 89th birthday

Aug 27, 2013

Esther Chrisman was interviewed by Debo Powers. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 73MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Mid Connelly

Mid Connelly tells a story during a recent visit to her North Fork home
Mid Connelly tells a story during a recent visit to her North Fork home.

Mid Connelly is the daughter of Austin and Ruth Dinwiddie Weikert, who homesteaded in the North Fork in the 1920s. Mid and her four siblings were raised in the Flathead Valley. She met her husband Walt while working for the McFarland family at the Quarter Circle MC Ranch on Big Prairie. After retiring from a busy career, they purchased land from Frank Evans in the early 1980s and built a summer cabin on the ridge overlooking Polebridge.

September 28 and October 4, 2017

Mid tells the life stories of her father and mother and describes how they came to the North Fork, Austin as a homesteader (on what is now the Hoiland property) and Ruth as a schoolteacher (at the Ford Schoolhouse). Ruth’s family was friends with the L.O. Vaught and Foreman families of Jacksonville, Illinois. Austin, who served with the Marines in World War I, was well known for his work with the Forest Service and the Park Service. He built a number of snowshoe cabins and ranger stations and did much road and bridge work for Glacier National Park over the years. He was a highly skilled log construction expert and also built many private structures on the North Fork and along Lake McDonald. He passed away at the Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls in 1982. Mid also discusses her married life with Walt, their business work together, and their experiences on the North Fork with their three children.

Click here to download a consolidated PDF transcript of these interviews.

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Wallace and Margery Donaldson

Wallace and Margery Donaldson
Wallace and Margery Donaldson

Wallace Donaldson is the grandson of Finley Arnett, who purchased the Fletcher “Hoolie” Stine and August Melin homesteads and a few others at the south edge of Polebridge in the late 1930s.

August 21, 2018

Wally was born in Missouri, but when he was four years old he moved with his mother and two siblings to live with his grandparents, Finley and Lily Arnett, on their farm south of Columbia Falls. He attended Bad Rock School and graduated from Flathead County High School in 1954, in the same era as classmates Larry Wilson and Mid Connelly. He reminisces about visiting the family property as a young man and about helping drive his grandfather’s cattle to summer pasture there. Wally graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in Illinois. He and Margery married in 1962, and they raised six children while practicing medicine in Michigan, Montana, Washington, and three and a half years in Indonesia. They and their children still enjoy visiting and working on the family ranch.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 151 MB and the interviews lasts about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Lee and Marietta Downes

Lee & Marietta Downes
Lee & Marietta Downes

Lee Downes was born in Columbia Falls in 1928. His parents homesteaded about three miles north of Columbia Falls. Lee bought land near Cyclone in the North Fork in 1953 after serving in the military. Lee’s wife Marietta was born in Washington in 1936.

Marietta passed away on January 17, 2016. Here is a copy of Larry Wilson’s Hungry Horse News column on January 27, 2016 with memories of Marietta Downes.

February 29, 2012 and May 10, 2012

Lee and Marietta Downes were interviewed twice by Tom Edwards. In these interviews, they share their memories of living in the North Fork. Lee worked as a logger and part-time for the Forest Service. They grew a garden every year and had trouble with open-range cattle eating their produce. Marietta canned almost anything imaginable, to feed their large family.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of the first interview. The file size is about 46 MB and the interview lasts about 50 minutes. Click here to download an MP3 file record of the second interview. The file size is about 57 MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour.

Click here to download a PDF transcript of both interviews.

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Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards

Tom first came to the North Fork in 1952. His father, Burt Edwards was a ranger in Glacier National Park. Tom spent his childhood summers with his family living at Logging Ranger Station near Polebridge.

October 29, 2012

This interview was conducted by Debo Powers. In this interview Tom recounts growing up with young people from other families around Polebridge, including all the community square dances. He worked at Polebridge Mercantile and cut hay in the meadows around Polebridge that are now filled with cabins. Tom also describes the homesteaders who were still around in those early years. Tom’s parents, Burt and Thelma, bought an 160 acre homestead in the 1960s that was three miles north of Polebridge. They later purchased another 160 acre piece with the Maas’s located near Moose City.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 48MB and the interview lasts about 52 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Bud Evans and April Donahoe

Bud Evans and April Donahoe
Bud Evans and April Donahoe

Bud and April’s parents, Frank and Edna Evans, bought the Panorama Ranch near Polebridge from Bill Adair in 1946. As children, Bud and April spent their summers in the North Fork and winters in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Frank had

come from Illinois to work as a naturalist for Glacier National Park. He started a hiking concession in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Edna came to Montana to work as a nurse in his business. They fell in love and married. The Panorama Ranch later became headquarters for their hiking trips in the Park.

July 27, 2013 & July 27, 2019

Bud Evans & April Donahoe are interviewed by Debo Powers and Tom Edwards. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 69MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview and a second interview conducted by Lois Walker on July 27, 2019.

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Karen Feather

Karen Feather
Karen Feather

Karen was a long-time owner of the Polebridge Mercantile (1974-1987) and the Northern Lights Saloon (1976-1999).

July 21 and August 3, 2017

The first interview with Karen was conducted at her home by Lois Walker. She discusses how she and her former husband John Gray and friends Dan and Carol O’Brien came to purchase the Polebridge Mercantile and the homesteader cabin that they converted into the Northern Lights Saloon, when it was all one property, in the mid-1970s. She talks about former Merc owners Ben and Annette Rover, Ted and Esther Ross, and Bob and Betty Olson. She discusses the challenges of managing the Merc, converting the “mother cabin” to a café in 1976, and running the Polebridge post office. She mentions employees, neighbors, and good friends from that era, as well as the origins of the Polebridge 4th of July parade and the Polebridge Prom.

Karen Feather with Jerry DeSanto
Karen Feather with Jerry DeSanto

The second interview was conducted at Lois Walker’s home with Karen and several former Merc and Saloon employees: Joyce O’Hara, Valerie Cox, Sally Costello, and Wendy Upton. These close friends recall episodes associated with the two Polebridge businesses and memories of North Fork residents over three decades of local history.

Click here to download a PDF transcript of the first interview. Click here to download a PDF transcript of the group interview.

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John Frederick

John Frederick
John Frederick

John was born and raised in Ohio. He came to Montana in the mid-70s and bought the cabin in 1978 which became the North Fork Hostel. John was a founder of the North Fork Preservation Association which was formed to oppose the coal mines planned upriver in Canada and, later, to oppose paving the North Fork Road. He dedicated 49 years of his life to preserving the North Fork Valley and its resources. He passed away November 15, 2017. Click here to view his obituary.

October 13, 2011

John is interviewed by Debo Powers. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 63MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Bob Grimaldi

Bob Grimaldi

Bob passed away on March 11, 2018. He was a long time North Fork resident with many stories to tell.

July 7th, 2015

Bob was interviewed by Don Sullivan. In this interview, Bob talks about how he first came to the North Fork in 1968 to do some bull trout fishing and goes on to talk about his experience on the North Fork. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 48MB and the interview lasts about 50 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview. Bob died on March 11, 2018. Click here to view his obituary.

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Ray Hart

Ray Hart
Ray Hart

Ray was born in 1929 in Texas and began visiting the North Fork with his family in the early 60s, eventually buying Ralph and Esther Day’s homestead.

October 13th, 2011

Ray was interviewed by Debo Powers. In this interview, Ray tells about how his good friend, Bob Funk, came to the North Fork. In 1965, Ray and his family stayed in the Funk cabin and fell in love with the North Fork. Some of the homesteaders were still here at that time. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 68MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 14 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

October 17, 2016 – Here is an article from the New Yorker about the influence that Frank and John Craighead had on shaping current environmental attitudes for not only the West but the North Fork in particular. As a consequence, Ray Hart wrote this tribute to Bob Funk who worked with the Craigheads to secure the Wild and Scenic River status for the North Fork.

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Fern Hart

Fern Hart
Fern Hart

Fern was born in Northwest Texas in 1928 and came to the North Fork for the first time with her husband Ray Hart and two sons, Morgan and Bracken, in the early 60s as guests of Robert Funk who had the old school house cabin near Ford Flats. With the help of Loyd Sondreson, the Harts eventually bought the nearby homestead of Ralph and Ester Day. From then on, they came to the North Fork every summer to square dance, hike, float, and above all fly fish. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

September 19, 2015

Fern was interviewed at her home in Missoula by Annemarie Harrod. She tells what it was like for a young mother from Texas living on the North Fork in the 60s, floating the river, dealing with critters in the cabin, and going to town once a month for supplies and laundry. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 30MB and the interview lasts about 30 minutes.

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Gary Haverlandt

Gary Haverlandt
Gary Haverlandt

Gary first came to the North Fork in 1948 when he was two years old with his parents to live at the Wurtz Homestead. His grandfather had homesteaded the property in 1910 and had “proved up” by 1913. Gary’s grandparents arrived at the property with their 10 month old daughter (Gary’s mother) after traveling a week on the Inside Road to get there. Gary has written a book called Wilderness Homestead based on his grandmother’s notes. Gary grew up in the North Fork and recounts events that happened during that time.

October 29, 2012

This interview was conducted by Debo Powers. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 28MB and the interview lasts about 30 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Richard Hildner

Richard Hildner calling the 2013 auction
Richard Hildner calling the 2013 auction

Richard first came to the North Fork in 1958 as a 12-year old boy from Illinois with Orville and Helen Foreman. He spent the summers of his youth with them at the Foreman’s Sawtooth Ranch.

November 3, 2012

This interview was conducted by Debo Powers. This interview contains delightful stories and descriptions of the original homesteaders many of whom were still around at that time. Richard also recounts watching the explosive start of the Red Bench Fire from a small plane and being left in charge of defending Polebridge from the fire’s onslaught.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 75MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 22 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Duke Hoiland

Duke Hoiland
Duke Hoiland

Arthur John “Duke” Hoiland was born and raised in Idaho, the sixth of eight children born to Tom Hoiland, who was from Norway originally, and his wife Ethel who was from Chicago. His parents met and married in eastern Montana, but moved to Idaho in 1923.

October 3, 2017

Duke was interviewed by Lois Walker. His daughter Juli Johnson contributed many of the photographs that illustrate the interview. Duke spent his formative years on the family homestead in Fourth of July Canyon in Idaho and worked in his father’s steam-powered sawmill. He graduated from Montana State University in 1955, where he met his wife Naomi. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956-1958 and was stationed in Germany with the 41st Engineer Battalion. Duke and Naomi both enjoyed long teaching careers in the Spokane Valley and raised three children, Juli, John, and Tom.

Duke first visited the North Fork in 1954 to meet Naomi’s family before they married. They began coming to the North Fork regularly in summer in the 1970s. In 1979 they began building their log home and outbuildings from beetle-killed trees logged on their property. They finished in 1986 and moved to the North Fork full-time in 1993. Duke discusses his participation in the NFLA, restoration work he accomplished at Sondreson Hall, fighting the 2003 Wedge Canyon Fire, and his lifelong interest in the Kootenai Indian Trail.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 171MB and the interview lasts about 2 hours. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview. Duke passed away October 2, 2020. Click here to see his obituary.

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Naomi Hoiland

Naomi Hoiland
Naomi Hoiland

Naomi was born in a log cabin in 1935 on Half Moon Lake near Belton. She first came to the North Fork when she was four years old and started school a year later at the Ford schoolhouse. She has fond memories from that time. She was raised by her grandparents, Ruth and Bert Coan and they lived near the Holcolms. Her Grampa Bert worked seasonally for the Forest Service as a smoke chaser, lookout, and on the trail crew. She knew many of the original homesteaders.

May 31, 2013

Naomi was interviewed by Karen McDonough. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 43MB and the interview lasts about 45 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Wynona “Nonie” Mathison

Wynona Mathison
Wynona Mathison

Nonie Mathison was the only child of Esther Mae Holcomb and her first husband Lynn Chapman. After Lynn’s death, Esther married Ralph Day, who was the long-time mail carrier on the North Fork. They had a ranch on what is now the Hart property near the Holcomb family homestead.

June 30, 2017

Lois Walker and Bonny Ogle interviewed Nonie at her home in Evergreen just a few months before her death in August 2017. She talks about attending the Ford Schoolhouse from first through seventh grades and about some of the other students. She married her husband John “Jack” Mathison, a wounded World War II veteran, in 1946 and they had six children, one of whom died in infancy. Jack worked for Loyd and Ruth Sondreson at their sawmill on Center Mountain Road for many years, as did Jack and Nonie’s son Johnny, who also sat in on this interview. They shared many nice memories of the Sondresons, and Johnny speaks of how Loyd employed him after he completed his Army service in Germany during the Vietnam War. Due to Jack’s declining health, the Mathisons lived for many years in Salt Lake City. Nonie’s mother Esther Holcomb Day had a close relationship with Ralph Thayer, and the family has compiled a very nice booklet about Ralph and his contributions to the North Fork.

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Nonie passed away on August 26, 2017. Click here to see her obituary.

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Joe Lang

Joe Lang
Joe Lang

Joe was born in 1932 in rural northeast North Carolina. During one of their summer vacations in Glacier National Park, they decided to look for land in the North Fork. The first time they came up the North Fork Road was in 1981 when they first saw the property that they had purchased during the winter…. sight unseen. His daughter, Maggie, who now owns the Hohnberger place, was only in junior high at the time. Joe and his family fell in love with the North Fork and spent their summers here until 1996. Joe worked as the official at the Border Crossing Station starting in 1991 until the border was closed.

June 19, 2015

Joe is interviewed by Debo Powers where he talks about what it was like to come up the North Fork Road for the first time. Joe and his wife, Joan, began living in the NF during the summers after he retired from the Air Force while she was still working as a school librarian. He and Joan were friends with many of the young wildlife researchers in the North Fork during the 1980s and 90s. Joan wrote and published a book about the North Fork called “Of Bears, Wolves, and Men: In Homage to the Wild.” Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 50MB and the interview lasts about 52 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Alan McNeil

Alan McNeil and his daughter, Fiona
Alan McNeil and his daughter, Fiona

Alan made a presentation at a monthly meeting of the NFLA on September 5, 2015. He talks about his childhood experiences at the cabin on Dutch Creek that his parents purchased in 1958. The cabin was originally built by lightweight boxing champion George Johnson, better known “Kid Fredericks.” The McNeils purchased the cabin from Moe and Alice Davall and first came to the North Fork when Alan was eight and his brother Bruce was six. He talks about the adventures they had around the cabin and along the Inside Road, including close encounters with bear and moose and playing with friends Gary and Wes Edwards, whose parents worked at Logging Creek Ranger Station. He recounts stories about North Fork homesteader John “Black Jack” Reuter, also known as Dutch Lannigan.
Click here to download an MP3 file record of this presentation. The file size is about 96MB and the talk lasts about 24 minutes.
Click here to download a PDF transcript of this presentation.

Alan died unexpectedly on December 29, 2017. Click here to read his obituary.

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Cecily McNeil

Cecily McNeil
Cecily McNeil

Cecily was born in San Francisco, California in 1923. She came to the North Fork from Chicago and purchased a cabin in Glacier National Park near Dutch Creek. She and her husband later bought property in the North Fork in 1959.

February 16th, 2011

Cecily was interviewed by Annemarie Harrod and Karen McDonough. In this interview, Cecily describes the North Fork fifty years ago. She remembers many of the homesteaders and early residents. She was president of the North Fork Improvement Association in 1977. She worked to get a zoning petition and helped to found the North Fork Compact in 1973 in an effort to save the North Fork from development.
Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 50MB and the interview lasts about 52 minutes.
Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Ed “Mac” McNeil

Ed 'Mac' McNeil
Ed ‘Mac’ McNeil

Mac was raised in Indiana outside of Chicago and became a physics professor. Ed ‘Mac’ McNeil passed away on Sunday, February 8th, 2015 in Kalispell. You can also read Edward Bowen McNeil’s Obituary.

October 25, 2011

This interview was conducted by Tom Edwards and Annemarie Harrod. In this interview Mac talks about how he and his wife, Cecily, bought land near Dutch Creek in Glacier National Park in the early 60s. They later bought 103 acres and built a cabin on the other side of the river near Moose Creek and lived there during the summers. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 50MB and the interview lasts about 53 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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George McFarland

George McFarland
George McFarland

George McFarland’s family purchased their property on Big Prairie within the boundaries of Glacier National Park in 1942.

November 30, 2011

George was interviewed by Gary Haverlandt and Jan Caldwell. In this interview, George’s first recollections on the North Fork were as a teenager in the mid-40s. He remembers many of the original homesteaders and the square dances at the McFarland Ranch. His dad was the first president of the North Fork Improvement Association. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 60MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Peter Moore and Ruth Tacheny

Peter Moore
Peter Moore

Peter Moore and his aunt Ruth Tacheny are related to the four Tacheny brothers of Minnesota—Victor, George, Eugene, and Joseph—who filed on homesteads in the North Fork in 1918-1920. Peter and Ruth’s cabins on Red Meadow Road are located on George Tacheny’s original homestead. Peter is the son of George’s daughter Katherine, and Ruth was married to George’s son, George Jr.

September 13, 2017

Peter and Ruth relate what they know of the Tacheny brothers and their homesteads. Peter first visited the North Fork with his Uncle George in 1962. He inherited his land from his mother and began building his cabin in 1979, with help from family members and using trees logged and milled on the site. He lived in the North Fork full-time in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. He talks about fighting the 1988 Red Bench Fire, his popular booya parties, working at the Northern Lights Saloon for nearly 25 years, his passion for painting, and his participation in the 4th of July parade and Presidential campaigns. Ruth’s family built their cabin in 2003. Vic Tacheny was the brother who eventually stayed in the Flathead Valley. He had a concrete business in Whitefish and did work on the Hungry Horse Dam. He and his wife Helen were good friends with the Holcombs, and Vic and Harry did a lot of work together in the North Fork. Part of Vic’s original homestead property is still in family hands.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 110 MB and the interviews lasts about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Bob and Betty Olson

Bob and Betty Olson
Bob and Betty Olson

Bob and Betty Olson were proprietors of the Polebridge Mercantile from 1969 to 1974. In the early 1980s they built a home on the former Melin homestead at Hay Creek, where they lived summers until 1994.

August 28, 2018

Lois Walker and Linda Pittman interviewed the Olsons at their place at the Montana Veterans’ Home. The Olsons both hailed from Bowbells, North Dakota. They married after he returned from World War II service in the Pacific. Bob worked at the aluminum plant in Columbia Falls and then ran his own heating business for a number of years, before they purchased the Mercantile. Of owning the operating the Merc, Bob said, “It was nothing but work. Not much money, but a lot of work.” That included running the post office, managing the rental cabins, putting up ice, and maintaining the buildings and equipment. After Ted Ross subdivided the land south of the Merc, Bob helped him square away the lots and construct the roads in the subdivision. He and Betty saw the major shift in population in Polebridge and the North Fork as early homesteaders sold their places and a younger generation began to take their places. Bob talks about the horses they always owned, their love of snowmobiling, and fighting the 1988 Red Bench Fire.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 161 MB and the interviews lasts about 1 hour and 57 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview. Betty Olson passed away on December 1, 2018. Click here to see her obituary.

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Carl and Linda Pittman

Linda & Carl Pittman
Linda & Carl Pittman

Linda was raised in the Mohave Desert of California and Carl was born and raised in Oklahoma. Carl was a teacher and they had summers free, so they came to the North Fork in 1964 looking for land where they could spend summers. They built a cabin and spent time floating the river and fishing.

Carl passed on December 2, 2015, at his home in Newberg, OR.

August 15, 2012 & September 2, 2017

The first interview was conducted by Linda Nelson and Gary Haverlandt. In this interview, Carl and Linda remember many of the early residents in the North Fork, the square dances at the Community Hall, picnics, hiking, and picking huckleberries. Carl even tells about an outhouse joke that he used to play on visitors. The second interview was conducted by Lois Walker after Carl’s passing. She talks in more detail about their experiences on the North Fork. Both interviews have been consolidated into one transcript. Click here to download an MP3 file record of the first interview. The file size is about 48MB and the interview lasts about 50 minutes. Click here to download a single PDF transcript of both interviews.

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Kay Rosengren

Kay Rosengren with Karen McDonough
Kay Rosengren (right) with Karen McDonough

Kay Rosengren and her late husband Keith worked as fire lookouts and then rangers in Glacier National Park in the 1950s and 1960s, then became regular visitors to the Flathead Valley for many years.

September 5, 2017

Kay was interviewed by Lois Walker and Karen McDonough. Keith and Kay Rosengren first came to Glacier Park from Minnesota to work as fire lookouts on Numa Ridge on their honeymoon in 1958, reporting to Polebridge ranger Adolph Opalka. They subsequently worked as fire lookouts at Apgar Lookout and Huckleberry Lookout, then as rangers at Logging Creek and Polebridge, where they got to be good friends with Paul and Maxine Maas and their three daughters. Kay talks about Park personnel and local North Fork residents during that period. She also discusses the two strong women who best represented that era, her good friend Mary McFarland at the Quarter Circle MC ranch on the west side of the Park and Edwina Noffsinger at the Bar X Six ranch on the east side. She and Keith stopped working for the Park in 1967, but then continued to come to Glacier as summer visitors. Keith passed away in 1994, but Kay continued to spends each summer here until her death in 2019 (all but seven seasons since 1958!).

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 210 MB and the interviews lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview. Kay passed away November 15, 2019. Click here to see her obituary.

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Robert Ross

Robert Ross
Robert Ross

Pastor Bob Ross is the son of Ted and Esther Ross, who owned and operated the Polebridge Mercantile from 1955-1967.

November 28, 2017, September 23, 2015 and June 13, 2017

Bob was interviewed twice by Chris Heitz and Karen McDonough, and a third time by Lois Walker and Chris Heitz. In these interviews, Bob recounts the story of how his father came west from Nebraska, first to Apgar and then to Kalispell in the 1920s. He married Montana native Esther Rasmussen and they raised four children. He talks about operations at the Merc, including the local post office and the ice house, and describes some of the changes that have taken place over the years. In the early 1970s, Ted Ross subdivided the meadow south of the Merc, selling lots and thus creating the town of Polebridge. His son-in-law Wally Nolan subsequently moved a number of structures out of Glacier Park onto those lots, and Ted drilled wells for many of the new landowners. Bob and his wife Roberta built a cabin on their property at the end of Rainbow Drive near the river, subsequently owned by Chris & Irv Heitz. In his younger years, Bob Ross worked for the Forest Service, and he describes his love for hiking the trails along the Whitefish Divide.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of the primary interview. The file size is about 176MB and the interview lasts about 2 hours. Click here to download a PDF transcript of the consolidated interview.

 

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Pat Walsh

Pat Walsh
Pat Walsh

Pat’s family goes back to the earliest homesteaders. His grandfather came west in 1878. He bought the Jarvis Homestead on Highway 2 near Columbia Falls. While exploring for coal deposits in the North Fork in 1887, his grandfather named Fool Hen Hill. He filed coal claims on Coal Creek. In 1901 when oil was discovered at Kintla Lake, Pat’s grandfather worked on the Inside Road. Pat’s Uncle John was one of the first North Fork homesteaders. He homesteaded a place on the south side of Big Prairie in 1906. After proving up the homestead in 1909, the Kintla Post Office was located there. Pat’s Aunt Harriet was the post mistress. Pat first came to the North Fork in 1950 as a five year old child.

Chris Heitz and Trish Walsh
Chris Heitz and Trish Walsh

October 30, 2012

This interview was conducted by Debo Powers. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 46MB and the interview lasts about 50 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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Larry Wilson

Larry Wilson
Larry Wilson

Larry was born in 1937 in Kalispell, Montana. He first came to the North Fork during WWII when he was four or five years old and camped with his family at the mouth of Whale Creek. In 1947, his family bought the Kintla Ranch and ran it as a dude ranch until 1953.

October 15th, 2011 & July 10, 2015

Larry was interviewed by Debo Powers in 2011 with a follow-up interview by Lois Walker in 2015. In the first interview, Larry talks about how he spent his summers growing up in the North Fork and knew many of the homesteaders who he talks about in his interview. After his family sold the Kintla Ranch, he was the caretaker and made enough money to purchase the property where he now lives. In the second interview, he goes into more depth about his personal history and his North Fork experiences, including his military service, his memories of Kintla Ranch and North Fork homesteaders, and his experience working for the U.S. Forest Service.

Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 76MB and the interview lasts about 1 hour and 24 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of Debo’s interview with Larry. Click here to download a PDF transcript of Lois’s interview with Larry.

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Ivan Windsheimer

Ivan Windsheimer
Ivan Windsheimer

Ivan Andrew Windsheimer was born Dec. 1, 1920, in Gurley, Neb. Ivan was the oldest of 12 children born to Fredrick and Helen Dykman Windsheimer. His paternal grandparents, Michael Andrew and Margaret Long Windsheimer, were both born in Germany and came to the United States in the 1850s. Ivan was a machinist mate 2nd class in the Navy. He married Mary Ellen McCall in 1944 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Chicago. Ivan and Mary lived in Washington and Montana most of their married life. Ivan worked as a dairyman and had his own herd near Arlington, Wash., for many years.

He moved his family to Kalispell in 1964 to manage the Grosswiler dairy, which was the largest dairy in the state at the time. He later worked for Plum Creek in Kalispell, from which he retired. Ivan dismantled a cabin in Glacier Park and eventually rebuilt it in Polebridge, where he and Mary spent much time and made many close friends over the years.

Ivan passed away on March 11, 2012, in Kalispell. Most of this biographical information came from Ivan’s obituary in the Daily Inter Lake. You can read that complete article from here.

October 17th, 2011

This interview was conducted by Linda Nelson. In this interview, Ivan talks about how had a cabin in Polebridge and describes Polebridge and the Polebridge Mercantile fifty years ago. Click here to download an MP3 file record of this interview. The file size is about 40MB and the interview lasts about 44 minutes. Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

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