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Experimental Forest and Savenac Nursery Photo Archive

Historical photographs of Experimental Forests and Savenac Nursery in Northern Idaho and Northwestern Montana, 1910 - 1989i

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About the Collection

The Experimental Forest and Savenac Nursery Photo Archive contains photographs related to or depicting the establishment of two Forest Service Experimental Forests in north Idaho, Priest River and Deception Creek, and the Savenac Nursery in Montana.

The images may be browsed by map and timeline, searched via the table, or the entire collection of images may be viewed in its entirety via the main page. Original copies of these images remain the property of the Forest Service; they may be reproduced with acknowledgement to the USDA-Forest Service. Those photos from the private collection of Ms. Susan Marsh will require written authorization from the Marsh family.

These images were taken over almost 80 years, from 1910 to 1989, and depict the people, places, and machinery of forest workers in Northern Idaho and Northwestern Montana.

Priest River and Deception Creek

This collection was provided to the University of Idaho Library's Digital Initiatives Department by Bob Denner, Forester with the Rocky Mountain Research Station, in the fall of 2013. Denner was the Superintendent at the Priest River Experimental Forest before being transferred to the Moscow Forestry Sciences Lab. While at Priest River, he found boxes of photos and documents stored in the office attic! Eventually he brought them to Moscow, where he was able to digitize and catalog each one. The Moscow office also provided a large number of photos and documents that add to the historical record of these sites.

The Priest River Experiment Station was established in 1911 at a site on the east side of the Priest River, about midway between the towns of Coolin and Priest River. It was the headquarters for Forest Service research in Region 1 until the administrative headquarters moved to Missoula in 1922. The Missoula unit was then named the Northern Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station; Priest River then lost the �Station� in its name and became the �Experimental Forest�. It was planned for the scientists working at Priest River to study the silviculture of western white pine and its associated tree species of the mixed conifer forests of northern Idaho. However, forest fire research very quickly became a top priority. Between 1935 and 1942, the buildings that make up the present administrative site were constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees. The administrative site and outlying features were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Priest River remains a very active research facility used by Forest Service and academic scientists, and students of all ages.

The issue of studying western white pine was still very important but since most of the facilities and staff at Priest River were occupied with fire research, the Deception Creek Experimental Forest was established in 1933 for the purpose of examining and understanding the ecology of forests dominated by western white pine. Extensive stands of white pine were found in the Coeur d�Alene Mountains, so it was decided to reserve about 3500 acres that encompassed the Deception and Sands Creek drainages. Nearby was the Honeysuckle Ranger Station, located at the confluence of Deception Creek and the Little North Fork of the Coeur d�Alene River, which could provide assistance with management activities. Research activities continue to examine uneven-aged management, cultural activities to promote white pine growth, and strategies to reduce the impact of blister rust. The buildings that were constructed by CCC and Emergency Relief Appropriations (ERA) no longer exist. They were removed in the early 1970�s after constant vandalism made them unusable.

Savenac Nursery

Savenac Nursery is located near Haugan, Montana and is 15 miles east of St. Regis, Montana. Savenac was once one of the largest and oldest USDA Forest Service tree nurseries in the western United States, operating from 1907 until 1969. The nursery site was selected by Elers Koch, of the Forest Service, who also helped fight the Great Fire of 1910 that burned much of the northern Rocky Mountains, including a portion of the nursery. Savenac once produced over 12 million seedlings annually for use in reforestation of national forests throughout the western United States. In 1969, its operations were moved to the Coeur d'Alene Nursery. Savenac was listed in the National Register of Historic Places August 16, 1999. Today ten buildings built during the 1930s by Company 956 of the CCC remain at the site, together with landscaped grounds, a stone bridge, interpretive trails and a small arboretum