History & Culture
Historic Darby Ranger Station Visitor's Center and Museum
History and recreation come together at the historic Darby Ranger Stations Visitor's Center and Museum.
The building, built between 1937 and 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, was the district ranger station until 1964. After a new ranger station was built, the old one was used for storage. When a fire burned the Darby High School in the spring of 1972, the old ranger station was converted into classrooms for the remainder of the '72 school year and for 1973. It then served as the Bitterroot Interagency Hotshot crew building form 1965 to 1990. In 1991 the idea surfaced to restore the old building back to its original condition. Thanks to the cooperative efforts of many dedicated employees and community volunteers, the building is now open to the public.
Artifacts, maps and photographs tell the story of the rugged individuals who staffed this "isolated" ranger station. These pioneer foresters during the pre-World War II period were responsible for maintaining telephone lines, trails, and suppressing fires. Recreationists will find maps, brochures, books, and advice about recreation opportunities from the volunteer staff helpful. Firewood permits are also available.
The historic Darby Ranger Station's Visitor Center is a working museum that:
- interprets the history of the Forest Service and its evolving mission;
- honors those people who formed the ties between the Darby Ranger Station and the Bitterroot Valley;
- serves as a Visitor Information Center for the Bitterroot Valley providing interpretive and educational materials to the public;
- assists the Darby Ranger Station in providing certain public services such as selling maps and forest product permits.
The Visitor Center is operated by the Friends of the Darby Historical Center, a not for profit organization, which is an extension of the National Museum of Forest Service History and operates through tax-exempt status under Tax Code Sec. 501 (c-3).
The Visitor Center's season of operation begins May 27, 2011 and runs through October 17, 2011. Hours of operation are Monday-Saturday 8:30 to 4:30.