Stories about
The Tamaracks of Seeley Lake
Part 2

August 10, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Henry Turner riding at The Tamaracks in the 1930's.

(Photo courtesy of Tom Demmons.)

Pelman "Pel" Turner, son of Henry and Maud Turner, leading dudes on a morning ride at The Tamaracks in the 1930's. He is riding Beauty, one of the most famous of the lodge's horses. (Photo courtesy of Tom Demmons.)

Stories From Long Ago About The Tamaracks of Seeley Lake


Compiled by Jack Demmons


This is Part 2 of a series of articles about The Tamaracks Lodge which was prepared by Tom Demmons, son of Ken and Vallee Turner Demmons, who were long time residents of the Lodge and helped manage it through the years. Parts 1 and 2 are stories as told to Tom by his uncle Frank Anderson - Ken's brother-in-law. They have been edited by Jack Demmons.

Business and Work

Now Ken Demmons was a licensed guide and he took pack trains of people who could afford it into the South Fork of the Flathead River in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and also to Morrell Falls and up to Holland Lake. I went along at different times as a bull cook.

I don't know how lucrative those trips were for The Tamaracks, because they used to take people in for $25 a day. The packer was supposed to guarantee 'em their elk. Everything was furnished by the Lodge, to include food and sleeping gear. Pack trains would be made up of at least 12 horses if there were six or seven people on an excursion. The Tamaracks had a beautiful string of horses. (Ken would also use those horses to take people on fishing trips.)

There were boats, a fine dock and a very nice lodge. They had a nice facility up there. It was a beautiful place.

Ken of course, worked very hard. He had charge of the horses and had to run into Missoula to pick up all kinds of supplies, to include a couple of barrels of gasoline and several of kerosene. There wasn't any electricity in those days. It was dangerous, 'cause those heaters got old, and some of 'em were leaking. It's a wonder they didn't burn some of the cabins down.

The Keewadens

There was a group of girls called the Keewadens. It was a collection of girls who'd come out here each year from the east, and their parents of course were very wealthy. Oh, there'd be 25 of 'em or more. These girls had a great desire to swim horses, so they would get on those horses bareback and swim them out into the lake. Ken would watch them very closely, 'cause those horses could run out of steam and they might drown. I remember one day when a number of the girls were out riding their horses in the lake and two wouldn't come in. Ken and I had to go out in a boat and talk to them. Ken called them some very bad names and the girls did come in then, but their horses were completely exhausted when they got to the bank. It could've been bad.

The Owner and Founder, Henry Turner

My wife Allie and I went up there to the Lodge one Saturday afternoon because I was free from my job until Monday morning. It was dusk when we got there. While driving into The Tamaracks we could see this huge bonfire burning on the shore of the lake. I wondered what's going on down there and so didn't go into the house.

I walked down to the lake to see what the fire was all about, and there was Henry Turner. He had three gunnysacks full of sterling silver. There were platters and serving ware of all kinds - knives, forks and spoons, all valuable stuff. He was heating a big pot and he was going to melt all of that beautiful silverware into one big lump. And of course he had been drinking. I asked him, "Henry, what in the world you wanta ruin all that beautiful silverware for?" He replied, "I need money. I have got to have some money and this is the only way I know how to get it. And, what good is the damn stuff anyhow?" He went on and on, but I talked him out of meltin' it, and a lot of it is right here in this house now. (At the time Frank Anderson was telling his stories, he was living along Redwood Street in the Rattlesnake area of Missoula.)

Another time I went up there just after dark and I could see Henry with a flashlight out there in the brush thrashin' around, and I thought, now what is he doing? So I went out there and Henry said he had hidden a bottle of gin and couldn't find it. So I helped him in his search. We found the gin, and of course I helped him drink quite a bit of it.

It used to be so great up there. Henry was a great mandolin player, and was also very good with a banjo and guitar. He knew all of those old Southern songs like "Oh My Pretty Quadrune," and we used to get smashed singin' those old songs.

[Stories about The Tamaracks will be continued in future editions of the Pathfinder.]


Pelman "Pel" Turner, son of Henry and Maud Turner, leading dudes on a morning ride at The Tamaracks in the 1930's. He is riding Beauty, one of the most famous of the lodge's horses. (Photo courtesy of Tom Demmons.)

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