Ninemile Remount Depot Restoration
Lolo National Forest, Montana, 2001
by C. Milo McLeod, FS Archaeologist
The Lolo National Forest Heritage Team, with the help of some truly outstanding volunteers, completed another successful PIT project at the Ninemile Remount Station Visitor Center. Volunteers came from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, and Idaho and donated a total of 560 hours during the course of the week. As a result of their efforts, the Ninemile Visitor Center is well along the path to being restored to its historical appearance, in addition to having a “leg up” on a much-needed new roof.
Prior to the beginning of the project, the Lolo National Forest Heritage staff and Kirby Matthew of the Northern Region Historic Preservation Team provided training in the proper application of a sawn-cedar-shingle roof. Safety was stressed both initially and at daily meetings. The net result was roofing that, regardless of the complexity imposed by multiple dormers and a somewhat lax standard of “plumb, straight, and square” in the original construction, was professionally installed without a single mishap.
Although the days were seemingly long and hot, all was not work. Regional Archaeologist Mike Beckes visited and shared his knowledge of the history of PIT and his vision of the program’s future. Lolo National Forest Wildlife Biologist Mike Hillis brought the group up to date on wolf and grizzly bear reintroduction programs and provided the latest information on mountain lion populations. Ninemile Fire Management Officer Laura Ward presented “Wildfire 2000,” a program that described in detail the events of last year’s fire season. The volunteers were also able to attend an evening lecture on tack and saddle maintenance and observe portions of the Wildlands Training Center’s horse and mule packing course. PIT volunteers were included in the course’s final exam campfire and sing-along. It was a full week!
Much of the credit for the planning and execution of this undertaking goes to Ninemile staff Shiffy Wellborn, Larry Sloan, and Ken Britton. These three, in company with Roger Free, Sydney Wimbrow, and Milo McLeod, undertook the supervisory and safety observer duties and wielded the occasional hammer. Most of the success, of course, must be credited to a superb group of volunteers.