In today’s society, it’s easy to forget the historic accomplishments of those who broke down barriers for women to enter the field of natural resources management. Thank you Hallie!
“One of the most untiring and enthusiastic applicants which I have for the position is Miss Hallie Morse Daggett, a wide-awake woman of 30 years, who knows and has traversed every trail on the Salmon River watershed, and is thoroughly familiar with every foot of the District.” M. H. McCarthy, Assistant Fire Ranger for the Salmon River District of the Klamath National Forest
Miss Hallie Morse Daggett was born in 1878 in Liberty, CA. She grew up at the Klamath Mine, also known as Black Bear Mine, very near to where she later worked as a lookout. Her childhood years were spent exploring every inch of the Salmon River drainage with her brothers, which undoubtedly influenced her desire to do her part to protect the forest as an adult.
In describing her life as a lookout, Hallie said: “I grew up with a fierce hatred of the devastating fires and welcomed the Forest Service force which arrived to combat them. But not until the lookout stations were installed did there come an opportunity to join what had up till then been a man’s fight; although my sister and I had frequently been able to help on the small things, such as extinguishing spreading campfires or carrying supplies to the firing line.” Because of the times, Hallie was not allowed to be in the line of work that she truly desired, but through her persistence and the liberal-mindedness of the District Ranger, she was hired. She was the first woman ever employed as a “Forest Guard” by the US Forest Service. Her first day on the job was June 1, 1913, just over 100 years ago.
Hallie was a pioneer in natural resource employment for women who, at the time of her employment, had only just started to vote. Some of the men predicted that after a few days of life on the peak she would telephone them to say that she was frightened by the loneliness and danger of staffing the lookout. To their surprise she was full of “pluck and high spirit”. She grew more and more in love with the work. She didn’t lose heart even when the telephone wires were broken and she was cut off from communication with the world below for weeks at a time. She performed the duties of the position with all of the skill that trained men could have shown in hopes of being reappointed for the 1914 fire season.
Hallie worked 15 seasons at the Eddy Gulch Lookout atop Klamath Peak on the Klamath National Forest. During her first season she spotted 40 fires, keeping the total acres burned to less than 5. In her later years (around 1951) residents of Hallie’s home town in Etna, California, banded together to build her a cabin on Main Street next to her sister Leslie’s home. She lived in this house until her death in 1964. The cabin was donated to the City of Etna by the Rosemary Holsinger family in 1993. Through efforts by the volunteer citizen’s committee, the City of Etna moved the cabin to the city park and developed a historical interpretive site that was completed in 1996. This project was identified as a priority in the Etna community action plan and was funded by Forest Service grants from President Clinton’s Northwest Economic Adjustment Initiative and the Ore-Cal Resource Conservation Development Area. The project was also sponsored by the Native Daughters of the American West. The site continues to honor Hallie’s legacy today.
-Story courtesy of the Klamath National Forest.