The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. Forest rangers had assembled nearly
Melki

Jul 09, 2015

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“There was no damn horse fast enough in the country to keep ahead of that fire.”

All the world was on fire – flames overhead, flames to the left, flames to the right, the ground was alive.

One August day in 1910, the largest wildfire in US history swept across Washington, Idaho and Montana. The newly established and woefully underfunded Forestry Service struggled to combat the flames. Firefighters were recruited from nearby mining towns.

They came because it was a job, paying twenty-five cents an

All the world was on fire – flames overhead, flames to the left, flames to the right, the ground was alive.

One August day in 1910, the largest wildfire in US history swept across Washington, Idaho and Montana. The newly established and woefully underfunded Forestry Service struggled to combat the flames. Firefighters were recruited from nearby mining towns.

They came because it was a job, paying twenty-five cents an hour – though many were paid only with promises. Rangers and immigrant alike, they shared but a single thing; not one of them knew how to engage a wildfire of this magnitude.

Egan’s book starts with a slam-bang tale of the fire bearing down on the town of Wallace, Idaho. The story told reads more like a novel than a historical account, with heroes bidding goodbye to loved ones and wealthy men shoving women to the ground in an effort to board one of the few trains out of town. It’s a tense few pages, with the fates of all concerned left untold.

Then the pace is slowed for a bit as the major “behind the scenes” characters are introduced, specifically Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot. The two shared a friendship and also a vision that the “rights of the public to the national resources outweigh private rights.” This opinion was unpopular with the lumber barons and other business owners hoping to profit from the heavily wooded lands. These chapters, while necessary, are about as thrilling as reading about rich men having tea parties, which, in a way, is essentially what the pages entail.

Soon enough, we’re back to the fire. In Wallace, chaos reigns as the mayor tries to keep his male citizens around to fight the blaze. But their efforts prove to be futile.

The heat burned against Weigle’s and up his nostrils. Flames all around. The back of his hand caught fire for an instant, the skin stinging , as if a dozen hornets had poked him. When his mop of red hair started to burn with a sickly smell, he reached for a handful of gravel from the road and rubbed it on his head. But now the fire was in front of him, big downed timbers engulfed by tongues of flame across the dirt road. He could descend no more. He had no choice but to go back up hill yet again. He remembered a tunnel he had passed, a mining hole. Trudging onward in the black of a burning night, Weigle found the mine about a half mile along the way. If he was to survive he had to crawl inside and wait out the firestorm.

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43 fire fighters hid in the War Eagle mine shaft

But hiding from the blaze inside tunnels proved to be the wrong answer for some.

The air had been cold but it quickly warmed, and then just as quickly went stale and hot. The outside heat was sucking all the cold air from the tunnel. How long till the oxygen was gone?

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Wallace after the fire

The author provides an excellent account of the fire and its aftermath, and detailed epilogues on all parties involved. This is definitely one of the more thrilling nonfiction books I’ve read. It should be a welcome tonic for anyone who thinks that reading about history is boring.
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Darwin8u

Sep 26, 2015

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“Better for a man to fail, he said, even “to fail greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
― Timothy Egan, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America

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A good history of Great Fire of 1910/the Big Burn and the fledgling years of the US Forest Service. Act one covers most of the major players: Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, Senator Heyburn, William Taft, Elers Koch, Bill Weigle,Joe Halm, and Ed Pulaski. Act

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A good history of Great Fire of 1910/the Big Burn and the fledgling years of the US Forest Service. Act one covers most of the major players: Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, Senator Heyburn, William Taft, Elers Koch, Bill Weigle,Joe Halm, and Ed Pulaski. Act two covers the fire. Act three, the aftermath. While the secondary title is perhaps a bit hyperbolic (really, the Fire that Saved America?) it certainly cemented the Forest Service and their rangers into the hearts and minds of America.

I remember, one summer when I was nineteen, volunteering in Grand Junction, Colorado to help the Forest Service carve the Kokopelli Trail in the McInnis Canyon National Conservatory near Fruita, Colorado. The tool I used? A Pulanski. Later that year, I was living in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1994, the summer the South Canyon Fire raced down Storm King Mountain killing 14 hotshot firefighters from Oregon. I remember friends from HS and college going out and joining Forest Service hotshot fire crews. I remember just a couple years ago, in Idaho, my brother’s brother-in-law and father-in-law flying water bombers fighting a fire that was burning part of the Southern Sawtooth National Forest that bordered my father’s dry farm near Burley, Idaho. Fires and the Forest Service are in my blood and in my family. This book was a great look at its beginning. It was a good book on conservation and the early Forest Service, just not a great one.
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