North Fork History Project has some new interviews

The North Fork History Project members were busy this summer interviewing more folks from the North Fork.  Here’s what’s new:

  • 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 bought the Bart Monahan homestead in 1958 when their son Allen was three months old.  They knew many of the original homesteaders.
  • Bud & April Evans – 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.
  • 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 Conn 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.

You can get access to these interviews on the North Fork History Project page under Oral History Interviews.  Our many thanks to Debo Powers, Tom Edwards, and Karen McDonough for conducting these interviews and to Debo for writing up the summaries.  And of course our sincere thanks to Esther Chrisman, Bud & April Evans, and Naomi Hoiland for agreeing to share their early North Fork memories with all of us.

Backwoods Booklovers looking for suggestions

Although the snow is flying, it’s not too soon to be planning for next summer. The Backwoods Booklovers are soliciting suggestions for 2014 books.  Two fiction and two non-fiction books are included in the schedule.  Please send your suggestions, with a review if you have read the book, to Gerry Stearns at  If you don’t have suggestions but would like to have a say in what books are read, please send your e-mail address and note to Gerry.

Sondreson Community Hall Hazardous Fuels Project

Marked treesAs discussed at the October Business Meeting, the NFLA Board has proceeded with application for a Hazardous Fuels Project grant from the Flathead Economic Policy Center.  Fire Mitigation Committee Member Allen Chrisman met with Mason Richwine from the FEPC on Wednesday October 16 to look at the project at the Hall.

The intent of the project is to remove surface fuels, ladder fuels, and provide space between the crowns of the remaining trees to reduce the fire hazard.  Excellent work has been done on the property to reduce surface fuels and prune the remaining trees.  This project will remove additional trees to provide more space between crowns, and prune the trees that are left.   Continue reading Sondreson Community Hall Hazardous Fuels Project

New Sign on Sondreson Community Hall

New sign on the Community HallThe NFLA board has been discussing a new sign for Sondreson Hall for over a year.  While visiting the North Fork, Paul Genovese became interested in what was happening up here.  He checked out the NFLA website and listened to the oral history interviews posted by the North Fork History Project.  After that, he started reading the board minutes where he discovered that we were interested in a sign for the Hall.  He contacted me because I was still the NFLA President at the time and we talked about the sign design that the board had in mind.  Using a computer-controlled plasma cutting machine he cut the design out of a steel plate with a rustic finish.  When the sign was finished, he drove up to the Community Hall and mounted it.  Many thanks to Paul for his initiative, creativity, time, materials, and interest in the North Fork Community.


NFLA annual food drive results

The annual NFLA food drive was started again this summer during the NFLA’s
August business meeting. Throughout the late summer and early fall, food was
donated by members of the North Fork community and collected at the Community
Hall. At the beginning of October, Tom Edwards gathered these donations and
delivered them to the Columbia Falls Food bank. The 2013 donations included
38 lbs. of food. Estimating $1.50 per pound, the total for food was $57.00.
There were additional donations in checks for $75.00. That makes the grand
total for this year $132.00. We want to thank everyone who donated an
participated in this years food drive effort.

Hunting season is here

White tail buckHunting season is already underway for bow, moose, and bear hunters, and rifle season for deer and elk opens on Oct. 25th running through Dec. 1. That means there will soon be a lot of hunters on the North Fork, including local residents, folks from around the state, and out of state hunters.

We recommend contacting the North Fork Patrol for advice on the best ways to mark your property against trespassing (see the Contact page for more information on the North Fork Patrol).

Be sure to always wear orange when you go out hiking, even if you don’t plan to leave the main road. And it’s a good idea to get an orange vest for your dogs, too! (Just make sure the girth is snug and doesn’t ride too far back on male dogs – we know of a certain dog who has had some trouble peeing in his orange suit…)

For you hunters, please be considerate of others in the woods, pay attention to private property signage, and don’t leave gut piles or other attractants where they could attract bears and endanger your neighbors.  If you are in any doubt about the rules, check out FWP’s Hunter Page on their website.

Stay safe, everybody!

Maintenance Committee update – new porch on the back of Sondreson Hall

Lynn Ogle, Gary McDonough and Allen Chrisman replaced the back porch at Sondreson Community Hall on Wednesday September 11, 2013.  The decking on the existing porch had rotted.  The porch was replaced with pressure treated 4×4 stringers and 2×6 decking, and placed on concrete pads to prevent ground contact and rot.  Thanks to Lynn for picking up the materials in town, and to Lynn and Gary for providing the tools and expertise necessary to complete the project.  We were one board short – but found a scrap to finish out the project for the time being.

Tuchuck Trail Report

An MCC (Montana Conservation Corp) Trail Crew will be working on the higher section of Tuchuck on September 9-16.  Even though they have received only 50% of the RAC grant funding for this project due to sequestration, they will try to get as much done as possible in a week.  This is great news because the switchbacks going up to Tuchuck Peak are in terrible condition.