5. August 5th, 1949

Preparing to fight the fire . . .
Sometime around 3:10 p.m. the crew of 15 smoke jumpers landed near location #11 on the photo. (The numbers used will coincide with those used in Norman Maclean's book, "Young Men and Fire".) When they landed the fire was burning in area #14 on the photo. The men collected and organized their equipment (#12), and had a bite to eat before starting toward the fire. The temperature in Helena (20 miles to the south) was 97 degrees with strong SW winds and a relative humidity of only 3%.

Move your cursor over the image below to make labels appear.

Above: I compared this Google Earth image to the map in Young Men and Fire and then added the numbers as best I could. To see the numbers, move your cursor over the image (above).

Above: This photo shows the opposite view, looking toward the river from the head of the gulch. As the men landed in area 11, they would have seen the fire on the ridge toward the south.

"Young Men and Fire". . .
The book titled "Young Men and Fire" by Norman Maclean is the most complete account ever written about the Mann Gulch Fire. Maclean, who grew up in the Missoula area, also authored "A River Runs Through It". I relied heavily upon Maclean's version of the disaster in creating this "virtual field trip".

"Montana, The Magazine of Western History" Autumn 2004 issue . . .
John N. Maclean (Norman's son) wrote an article called "Fire and Ashes, The Last Survivor of the Mann Gulch Fire." The article appeared in the Autumn 2004 issue of Montana, The Magazine of Western History. Since his father's book had contradicted some of the details that Bob Salle remembered about the disaster, John wanted to give Salle an opportunity to respond. In the article, John tells what he learned from Sallee during interviews and a trip that the two of them made to the gulch several years after Young Men and Fire was published. The 15-page article, which includes several black and white photos, sheds new light on Norman Maclean's account.

NEXT: The Final Journey Begins


1. Welcome to Mann Gulch
2. Mann Gulch on the Missouri River
3. Hiking Mann Gulch
4. The C-47
5. August 5th, 1949
6. NEXT: The Final Journey Begins
7. Fire Crosses the Gulch.
8. The Blow-Up.
9. The race is on.
10. Dodge sets an escape fire.
11. Views from the Ridge.
12. The Crevice
13. Rescue Gulch
14. The Morning After
15. The Men of Mann Gulch
16. More About Mann Gulch
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