The Forest Service Museum - Preserving U.S. Forest Service Heritage


SourDough News | May 12, 2014

Vignette of planned museum lobby.

The drawing above is an artist’s rendering of the lobby for the future National Conservation Legacy and Education Center at the National Museum of Forest Service History. 


Over 100 years ago, the concept of setting aside public domain for multiple use management of natural resources on a large scale was unknown. However, through a century of service and beyond, the U.S. Forest Service has written that story.


In 1988, a small group of dedicated volunteers recognized that no museum in the U.S. was focused specifically on preserving the legacy and heritage of the Forest Service. They established the National Museum of Forest Service History to collect artifacts and provide interpretive exhibits for the enjoyment and education of the public. Their goal has been a huge challenge, but they have come a long way and celebrated many achievements. 


The National Museum of Forest Service History is now functioning with a thriving artifact collection. The museum has catalogued over 30,000 objects which are available to researchers. Museum staff members have responded to a growing number of information requests and there are traveling exhibits in North Carolina and at the Missoula Airport. The National Conservation Legacy and Education Center is designed and ready for construction once the Museum secures the needed funds.


The museum loan program has loaned artifacts to the Angeles National Forest, Cave Junction Oregon Smokejumpers Center, Fire Sciences Laboratory and the Missoula County Museum. Our traveling exhibit, Minerals We Use Every Day: Mined from Our National Forests, is currently at the North Carolina Forestry Museum. The exhibit previously visited Louisiana, Nevada and Iowa. Future traveling exhibits on other subjects are planned.


The architect drawing on the right shows the timber framing planned for the lobby of the National Conservation and Legacy and Education Center in Missoula, Mont. Twenty-four different species, from all sections of the country, have been donated, including an Alaskan Yellow Cedar from the Hoonah Ranger District Tongass National Forest with assistance from Icy Straights Lumber Company.


The Chief’s Office has endorsed support for the Museum through a Memorandum of Understanding. If you would like more information, please visit the webpage at or write: Museum, P.O. Box 2772, Missoula, MT 59806.


Contributed by: Dave Stack, Executive Director,