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A look back at history
of Celebration of Trees

(Editor's note: Gov. Marc Racicot's scheduled visit here last week for the Trees Celelbration and a tour of Pyramid was canceled when the governor's helicopter was forced to return to Helena after encountering thunderstorms near Lincoln. Other events came off as scheduled.)

by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder

May 4, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

One of the highlights of the Celebration of Trees this year was a performance by accomplished young artist Tina Hatch of the University of Montana. The pianist is shown here with Marilyn Peterson of The Emily A. Bed & Breakfast where Tina performed.

In April of 1987, the Seeley Lake Senior Citizens sponsored the first Founder's Day celebration. Those responsible for organizing and building the Community Hall were honored; the main players were Bert Sullivan, Herb and Butch Townsend, and Alan and Mildred Chaffin.

The Second Founders' Day, April 1988, honored guest speaker John Toole, who talked about the "Early Days of Seeley". Toole was the former mayor of Missoula, and was a seasonal resident in Seeley Lake for most of his life.

The Third Founders day, April 1989, featured early logging and Pyramid Mountain Lumber's 40th anniversary. Last week's article described the past and present lumber company.

The Fourth Founder's Day, April 1992, featured the history of the Postal Service in the Seeley-Swan. Dennis Nemmers, Margaret Anders, Jessie Perro Dombey, Rennae Greenough, Arlene Brown, Roselyn Carey and Frank York were honored.

After the 4th Founders' Day, Rod Kvamme decided a new theme was needed.

"There is no one here who is not dependent on, or connected to, or who doesn't do something related to trees in some way. So I got the idea of the Celebration of Trees," Kvamme said in a Missoulian interview in April of 1998.

This celebration was his way of getting all the residents of Seeley together to help celebrate the valley and Arbor Day.

The first Celebration of Trees, April 1994, was centered around the Jim Jirard Memorial Tamarack Grove, a 60-acre park near the outlet of Seeley. Jirard was a widely-known and loved forester. He began his work here in Seeley Lake in 1908 for the US Forest Service. The program included guest speakers Gareth Moon, retired DNRC State Forester, Orville Daniels, supervisor of the Lolo National Forest, and Bud Moore, retired Forest Service.

The second Celebration of Trees, April 1996, celebrated the history of smoke jumpersthe jumpers trained at Camp Paxson and then practiced jumping near Clearwater Junction. This celebration offered exhibits and videos by Jack Demmons of the Smokejumper Museum, a presentation by Roy Wegner, the 1943 Smokejumper Training Camp Director, and "Tales about Smokejumping" by Earl Cooley, a smokejumping pioneer.

In April 1998, the theme for the Celebration of Trees was centered around the Old Barn, which now sits on Highway 83. It was moved from the Double Arrow Ranch where it was built in the winter of 1929-30. When restored, it will serve as a museum and visitor's center. Jack Rich, Helen Rich and Bob Manchester, a wrangler at the barn in the early 30s, shared their history and involvement with "the old barn".

While the whole community has worked together to make these events memorable, Rod Kvamme has chaired every one of these events.

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