Family Spends Christmas at the Pine Mountain Ranger Station

Dec 25, 2013

 During World War I, it was hard to find Christmas trimmings and gifts in 1917, especially for a low-paid Forest Service Ranger living 15 miles from the nearest store. That’s how it was for ranger Harold Smith and his wife, Angie.

 They lived with their one-year-old daughter, Sandy, at the Pine Mountain Ranger Station, 35 miles southeast of Bend, Ore. Rather than ride six hours by horseback through 18 inches of snow and sub zero temperatures to the Millican Valley Store, they stayed home. The Ranger Station cabin served as both office and living quarters, but it was cozy with its wood-burning stove and kerosene lamps. Harold found a perfectly shaped lodgepole pine for their Christmas tree. Angie cut up pieces of tin foil and hung brightly colored postcards for decorations. When Sandy woke up on Christmas morning and saw the tree sparkling in the light from the isinglass door on the stove, her eyes sparkled like the tree. They had a simple meal and agreed that all Christmas needed was their love and companionship. That happy day was their last Christmas together, as Angie died in the flu epidemic of 1918.

    Source: Forest Service Wives. Sampler of the Early Years. 1980. 38-39. Print. (This book is found in the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Medford, Ore.)