Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Big Burn

It's about the great fire of 1910, that destroyed over 3 million acres of forest in Washington, Idaho and Montana. I started it a while back and just finished it tonight on the last leg of this week's business trip - a flight from Minneapolis to Spokane.

The great fire started out as many (as in thousands) of smaller lightning-induced fires. Then, on August 20th, 1910, a weather system brought hurricane-force winds through, and the many small fires exploded into one humongous, baddass fire.

By accident, I finished the book one hundred years to the day after the "blowup". I closed the book, sat back in my seat, turned off the reading light, and looked out the window of the plane into the darkness below, also accidentally flying a hundred years to the day exactly over where hell on earth had raged and 85 lives had been lost and countless thousands more changed forever, and it was kinda powerful.

But the book was at least as much if not more about Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and the creation of the National Forest System. And in this, my summer of awakening to the wonders of the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe National Forests that are right outside our back doors, The Big Burn also added a whole new level of perception and wonder to the frame of mind I'll be carrying with me on my next trip in.

So yeah, I'd recommend the book.


lazyeye72 said...

I've been wanting to read that book. We honored the day with our annual family Hiawatha ride with a stop at the Wallace Huckleberry festival. Cool to be there wondering what that firestorm must have been like. Wish I had read it before.

Pat S said...

lazyeye, that's way cool that you guys were in the Silver Valley on this historic weekend. I'm sure that there's no way you could be there and not pick up a sense of what the event meant to the area. I'm jealous.

One goal I have is to get over and visit the Pulaski Trail. Sure looks cool.