Video Announcement: Aunt Lena


Hello again. I've not forgotten your encouragement when I wrote you about a videotape project to produce "Aunt Lena, Cabinet National Forest's Unsung Heroine" and you were very supportive.<smile>

I'm happy to bring you up to date with the following announcement. It's the result of a Montana Committee for the Humanities funded project, sponsored by Noxon Public Schools, to create a history film about the first USFS Ranger and his wife on the Cabinet National Forest in northwestern Montana. A seven-page brochure with pictures accompanies the video.

The media project begun last summer is a success! By June 1 the video tape about the first ranger and his wife on the Cabinet National Forest will be released. Four programs are scheduled to show it (June 7 at Lincoln County
Museum, Libby, MT; June 12 at Bonner County Museum, Sandpoint, ID, June 22 at Noxon Senior Citizen's, Noxon, MT and at a summer reading program in Clark Fork, ID later this summer).

Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT will air it on their PBS-TV during in July.

Anyone interested in seeing it, or having it in their town's library can have their local PBS-TV station or librarian contact me. I'll tag the information on the end of this.

Your help in forwarding this message to people who'd like to know about this will be appreciated. <smile>

Mona Vanek
nox2368@montana.com


Aunt Lena, Cabinet National Forest's Unsung Heroine

Created & produced by Mona Leeson Vanek (copyrighted 1997)

A rich array of early 1900's photographs present life, recorded in the private albums of northwestern Montana homesteaders in the Cabinet and Bitterroot mountains, forms the background of this thirty-minute dramatized documentary history on VHS tape.

In 1907 the idyllic land of the Bull River valley, often compared to the Swiss Alps for spectacular scenery, upon the arrival of the US Forest Service, became a battleground for manmade conflicts.

During that time, when Granville 'Granny' Gordon became the first US Forest Ranger on the Cabinet National Forest (CNF), Pauline Reithmiller Gordon was almost as essential to her husband's job as was his horse and saddle.

'Granny' exchanged the excitement of riding in Colonel William Cody's Wild West Show in Cody, WY to go west in search of land to homestead. Gordon's got to Noxon, MT in 1905. When President Theodore Roosevelt declared over a million acres of Montana 'forest preserves', the Cabinet National Forest Supervisor, Ferdinand Augustus Silcox, made 'Granny' his first Ranger.

Timbermen, used to harvesting the timber, resisted USFS management. Homesteaders resented being shoved off lands Silcox soon 'reserved' from homestead entry.

Pauline, known as 'Aunt Lena', without fanfare or salary assumed the role expected of her. Using her charms, along with her reputation as an excellent cook, skilled hostess, and resourceful woman in all occasions, she managed to make friends of them. She fought County Commisioners to get roads and a school, then boarded the teachers without complaint.

In 1910 a holocaust of fire confronted timbermen, homesteader and forester alike.

Aunt Lena, Clifford Weare, staunch foe of the USFS, and Frank Berray, homesteader, recall the conflicts in candid detail, against the vibrant photographic story of life in northwestern Montana.


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