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Thanks to Matt Davis, District Ranger, Marley Chynoweth, Archeologist, Priest Lake Museum, countless community supporters and volunteers and Damon Bretthauer/Shiloh Roberts of Northern Lake Tree Service, the historic barn on Bismark Meadows has begun a new life.


The Barn, built in 1919, is a 28” X 32’ log building, which originally was built for 12 stock animals and had a hayloft and a shingled roof. Trappers, Bush and Bismark, first developed the site. It was acquired by the Forest Service and served as a summer guard station, as the pack base for the Coolin District and finally as the Bismark District Headquarters from 1927-1965. The mules and horses that lived at the barn included “Dooley”, “Phoebe”, “#99”, “Dynamite”, “Flicka” and “Duke”.

Over the years, the six buildings on the site have deteriorated and some are no longer standing. Although the log sides have remained standing, the roof and most of the hayloft has collapsed.

Local community members have petitioned for restoration of the barn over the years. With the cooperation of the Forest Service, the Priest Lake Museum and volunteers, the restoration process has begun.

Recently, Northern Lakes Tree Service volunteered its equipment and labor to “brush out” the road from the gate to the barn. Damon and his crew also carefully lifted out the cistern from the hayloft to take the weight off the remaining building. The cistern will be preserved, as will significant boards/logs that will be saved for templates for the future.

The final step this fall will be to tarp the building so that it will remain dry over the winter months. The Forest Service’s Region One Historic Preservation team is scheduled for a visit to Bismark this spring/summer. They will do a site evaluation and make recommendations for the restoration of the barn.

The Bismark Ranger Station site is located just south of the Nordman Store. For more information about the Bismark Ranger Station or to help with the restoration of the barn, please contact Priest Lake Museum (priestlakemuseum@gmail.com).




Photo: NASA

It's known as the Ray Greene Checker Board. Ray was my Dad, and worked in the Priest Lake District for The State of Idaho Department of Lands (from 1970 to 1995) 1st as a Fire Warden then later as the Area Supervisor. The challenge was to come up with an effective way to harvest large amounts of pine poles but not clear cut the whole prairie (I believe this was sometime in the late 70's to Mid 80's). So he and his group came up with the idea of clearing in a grid pattern. Leaving some trees so animals would have cover, a clearing a burning so grass and brush would grow and the animals would have food. This got him in trouble with the Governor when they flew over riding in the same helicopter. Once the Governor got the rest of the tour and rational via ground tour the Governor apologized to him and then commended him and his team for creative solution. Upon Ray's retirement from the Department his peers they present him with a custom aeriel photo wall plaque of the area directly souh of priest lake on jack pine flats entitled "The Ray Greene Checker Board". Ray retired from the Department in 1996 and passed away in 2015, a couple of weeks shy of his 80th Birthday. I think about my Dad every day. He was a great Man and perhaps the best Dad ever! There ya Go!

CLICK HERE for NASA EARTH post

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