Heritage - Guard Stations

Ranger Stations and the Forest Service

Guard stations like this one were once the seasonal homes and offices of Forest Service employees. The winters were spent in town (Vernal), but once the snow melted and work could be done in the field the ranger or other employees would move into the guard station. The ranger’s family might also spend the summer in the station. Today there are 11 remaining guard stations, plus Ute Mountain Fire Lookout on the Ashley National Forest. Most of these were built during the 1920’s and 30’s. Many of the buildings look similar because nearly all were built using one of several standard designs and approved materials. Most of the stations contained living quarters, a barn and corral for horses - the primary means of transportation, and buildings for storage. At Stockmore and Summit Springs there was a room for the ranger’s office. By the 1960’s roads and vehicles had improved to the point that many of the guard stations were not used as often; although, seasonal crews are still sometimes housed in these buildings. The Vernal District Ranger has chosen to rent this guard station to the public so they can enjoy a rustic experience similar to the first rangers. Most fees (like timber and grazing) collected by the Forest Service are sent to Washington D.C., however, the rental fee for this cabin is used by the district for maintenance of these buildings. The Vernal District has three guard stations available for rental. Ute Mountain Lookout on the Flaming Gorge District is open for tours during the summer.

President Cleveland set aside the Uinta Forest Reserve in 1897. Headquartered in Provo, this reserve covered most of the Uinta Mountains, including this area. Forest Reserves were set aside to improve and protect forests, conserve watersheds, and furnish timber. In 1905 the Forest Service was organized as an agency and placed within the Department of Agriculture. The Ashley National Forest was created on July 1, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The forest was carved from the eastern portion of the Uinta National Forest and named for Ashley Creek and Gorge which are prominent natural features on the forest’s southeastern corner. Ashley Creek was name for William Ashley an early trapper and the first American to cross the Uintas in 1825. The Forest Service was created to be a decentralized organization. Most of the decisions and actions occurred at the local or lowest level – the ranger district. The ranger was given authority to sell timber, create grazing allotments, and make most of the decisions essential to operating the forest in that area. Each forest had several ranger districts overseen by a forest supervisor.

Guard Station History

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Jeffrey A. Rust