Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Wolf Creek in Lewis and Clark County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

The Mann Gulch Fire

 
 
The Mann Gulch Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 13, 2019
1. The Mann Gulch Fire Marker
Inscription.  At an isolated gulch about thirteen miles south of here on August 5, 1949, twelve smokejumpers and a Forest Service employee died when a routine fire unexpectedly turned deadly. The lightning-caused fire at Mann Gulch was spotted by a Forest Ranger about noon on August 15th. Within hours, fourteen of the Forest Service's crack smokejumpers were on the ground in the gulch and moving toward the 55 acre fire. Wind, combined with tinder dry grass and the steep terrain in the gulch, caused a rare and little understood phenomenon called a "blow up." The result was an inferno that quickly enveloped Mann Gulch. The fire jumped the mouth of the gulch and cut off escape to the Missouri River. The men sought the protection afforded by the ridge line to the north. The raging wall of flame moved faster than the men could climb the steep slope to safety. Realizing they could not outrun the holocaust, the crew's foreman set a back-fire to provide a makeshift shelter for the smokejumpers. Tragically, fear drove the men on and no one sought shelter with the foreman; the last words he recalled hearing before being engulfed by the flames were "To hell with this;
The Mann Gulch Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 13, 2019
2. The Mann Gulch Fire Marker
I'm getting out of here!" Within minutes, eleven men lay dead on the hillside, killed by the super-heated air generated by the fire. Two other smokejumpers died the following day from severe burns. Three men, including the foreman, survived the fire. Only the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado was deadlier for the National Forest Service's elite smokejumpers.

This marker is dedicated to the thirteen men who died in the Mann Gulch Fire.
 
Erected by Montana Department of Transportation.
 
Location. 47° 1.2′ N, 112° 0.604′ W. Marker is near Wolf Creek, Montana, in Lewis and Clark County. Marker is on Craig Frontage Road near Beartooth Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wolf Creek MT 59648, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Old U.S. Highway 91 (here, next to this marker); Remembering Governor Forrest H. Anderson (approx. 4.3 miles away); The Dearborn – Ancient Interstate Highway (approx. 8.8 miles away); "Cliffs High and Steep" (approx. 9.2 miles away); Michael John MacKinnon (approx. 9.2 miles away); Dearborn's River (approx. 9.2 miles away); Continuing the Journey (approx. 9.2 miles away); Bighorned Animals (approx. 9.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wolf Creek.
 
Regarding The Mann Gulch Fire.
Retrieving the bodies at Mann Gulch image. Click for full size.
By Forest Service
3. Retrieving the bodies at Mann Gulch
The Mann Gulch Fire was the basis for the 1952 movie The Red Skies of Montana starring Richard Widmark.
 
Also see . . .
1. Remembering Mann Gulch. The same plane, that dropped those smokejumpers over the Mann Gulch Fire, 70 years ago today, continues to fly on. Her mission now, as "Miss Montana", is helping others remember the 13 lives lost on that tragic day. (Submitted on October 28, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 

2. Mann Gulch Fire, 1949 -- Forest History Society. To escape the advancing fire, now less than 100 yards away, crew foreman R. Wagner "Wag" Dodge ordered the men to drop their equipment and run back up the steep, rocky hillside. As the men retreated, Dodge stopped to set a small escape fire, creating a burned-over area that the fire would bypass. (Submitted on October 28, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
Categories. DisastersNatural Features
 

More. Search the internet for The Mann Gulch Fire.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 28, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 28, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 52 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 28, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
Paid Advertisement