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Bull River Ranger Station taking visitors back to 1908

| August 18, 2004 12:00 AM

History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts will soon be able to experience Bull River Ranger Station as it was in 1908.

A group of U.S. Forest Service historic preservation carpenters out of Missoula have been working to restore the ranger station and convert the structure into a cabin rental.

In the past, the ranger station has been used as an outdoor educational facility, attracting throngs of people interested in learning about the history of the historic site. For years the building was open, but did not generate much needed maintenance funds.

³If you¹re not living in the buildings or keeping them heated in the winter, they start to deteriorate,² said Kirby Matthew, a member of the historic preservation team. ³That, and lack of funding, made us decide that we want to go to a cabin rental.²

The two-story building will offer enough beds for eight people. Reservations for the cabin will be taken year-round, maximizing occupancy.

³The maintenance on an unoccupied building is considerably higher than an occupied building,² Matthew said. ³We want this to be used as much as possible.²

Built in 1908 by Granny Gordon, the first appointed ranger of the Cabinet National Forest, the cabin resides in a bucolic setting along the Bull River. Forest Service archaeologist Becky Timmons said the area and the history will provide people with a memorable experience.

³This cabin rental is an incredible solution because it generates maintenance dollars and it provides opportunities for the public to experience a historic building at an affordable rate in these primitive settings,² Timmons said.

Through historic documentation, the preservation team has been meticulously renovating the cabin to its look and feel of nearly a century ago.

³We¹re going to furnish it with period furniture, all of it with the idea that it¹s going to be used,² Matthew said. ³That¹s part of this. We want people to sit on the couch.²

The ranger station was closed in the 1970s. In the late 1980s, the Forest Service and a local group began volunteering at the site, kick-starting the restoration process.

³When you look at it, there¹s been quite a bit of work put into it in the last 14 years,² Matthew said. ³It¹s in good shape. There¹s a lot of maintenance and repair work still to do, but by the time we¹re done with this phase of it, it will be looking pretty good.²

Once the heating system has been installed and the electrical work has been carried out, the preservation team will finish the project. Matthew said the cabin should be ready for renters in mid-October.

For information about renting the cabin, contact the Cabinet Ranger Station at 1-406-827-3533.