Idaho History December 17, 2017

Warm Lake History

(part 1)

Warm Lake marked on early Idaho Maps as “Hot Lake”

1895 Map “Hot Lake”

(click image for larger size at source)
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1888 Map “Hot Lake”

(click image for larger size)
source: The University of Alabama
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Warm Lake, Idaho

Warm Lake is a 640-acre (260 ha) lake in Idaho, United States. It is located 26 miles east of Cascade in Valley County, at 5,298 feet above sea level. It is the largest natural lake in Boise National Forest.

The lake’s abundance of wildlife makes it very popular for camping, fishing, and hunting. Large mammals present in the area include moose, mule deer, black bear, and elk. Large birds present in the area include bald eagles and osprey. The lake contains rainbow, brook, lake, and bull trout as well as mountain whitefish and Kokanee salmon.

There are two lodges at the lake, North Shore Lodge, which was established in 1936, and Warm Lake Lodge, which was established in 1911. The Forest Service operates three campgrounds around the lake.

source: Wikipedia
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Warm Lake Area History


Francois Payette first set eyes on the Payette River, which he immediately named for himself. He was a member of the first “Snake River Expedition” under the leadership of Donald McKenzie. For the next 4 years they trapped an area stretching from the Tetons in the east, Salt Lake in the south, the Cascades to the west.
Rivers and Rails p.17

1850 census

Idaho was in Oregon Territory.
The Handy book for Genealogists

1860 census

Idaho was in Washington territory and in the Spokane precinct.

1870 census

The area was in Idaho Territory, Idaho County, South Fork Precinct with 27 counted, all were male prospectors except a male storekeeper and a blacksmith.

1879 July 24

Captain R. F. Bernard and 60 cavalry camped at the northeast end of Warm Lake. They were part of the Sheepeater Campaign.
Source: map from the book Sheepeater Indian Campaign.

1880 census

Warm Lake was in Idaho County, Idaho Territory.


John Reeves settled on a mining claim in Paradise Valley.
From History Of The Boise National Forest 1905-1976 by Elizabeth M. Smith, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise-1983, p. 22.

Early 1890’s

Sylvester and Melinda Scott settled on Deep Creek (Warm Lake Highway crosses it at east end of Scott Valley). Scott Valley was named after them. The winter of 1893 was severe so they decided to move to a more hospitable site on the Salmon River. They raised 18 children (yes eighteen).
From Duane Peterson and a book Spirits of the Salmon River by Kathy Deinhard Hill p. 148.

1890 census

[Census] was taken but it was destroyed by fire after being collected at the national level.


Map shows Hot Lake, now called Warm Lake on the South Fork of the Salmon River. Some mining claims had their location referenced from Hot Lake. Other earlier maps showed the lake as Warm Lake.

1900 census

The South Fork of the Salmon River was in the Warren precinct of Idaho County.


Bill & his wife (Aunt) Molly Kesler moved to Knox and later built the Warm Lake hotel (between the existing lodge and the lake).


The first telephone line construction began on the former Payette National Forest with the purchase of a private line from Crawford to Knox. In 1910 Knox was connected to Stolle Meadows and adjacent places.
Source: History of the Boise National Forest p127.

1910 census

The South Fork of the Salmon was in the Roosevelt precinct of Idaho


Bill and Molly Kesler started building at the Warm Lake hotel site (now Warm Lake Lodge). The hotel was located some 500’ toward the lake from the existing lodge.

1915 May 20

The land contest at Knox of Wm. Kesler vs D. A. Robnette was tried before commissioner F. S. Logue at Thunder yesterday. The evidence was all submitted and the commissioner will render a decision in a few days (Cascade News). Bill & Molly Kesler bought 8 buildings and their home from a fellow they thought was the owner. A year later Robnette appeared and claimed title to all 9 buildings. Molly ran him off the place and down the road 3 miles where he took refuge with an old miner. They thought there was to be a future for Knox. They were fleeced and the “fleecer” was gone.
Source: Boise Statewide newspaper Jan. 24, 1947 titled “Molly of the Mountain”.


Bob Barr had a farmstead in Paradise Valley. He harvested grass hay, and had horses. Straggler lambs from the sheep drive were given to him and collected on the return drive. His farmstead did not qualify for a homestead. He reportedly killed a farmer in Kansas before coming to Idaho. This site is now the Campbell cabin, lot 11. (Gill/Foster/Holverson interviews.) His cabin was made from rough sawn lumber from the sawmill at the mine some 8 miles north of Warm Lake. His cabin was the former assay office at the mine. Bob Barr showed Richard “Dick” Wilkie where a freighter was buried in front of his cabin, five foot from the creek, due to an accident on the Thunder Mountain road. Dick could not find the grave in 1999.
As told by Dick Wilkie to LeRoy Meyer via phone.

1917, Feb. 26

Valley County formed from Boise and Idaho Counties.
The Handy Book For Genealogists


William Ben Rice was USFS Ranger on the South Fork of the Salmon
(Warren Times).
From 1925 to 1938 he was Payette National Forest Supervisor (the former Payette NF),
from History of the Boise National Forest.
Rice Peak was named after him (formerly Blue Point Peak). At the time of his death Jan. 13, 1950 (age 61) he was Regional Forester for the USFS. He reportedly was very instrumental in helping the Boy Scouts establish the camp at Warm Lake.
Ross Hadfield oral history


The road was constructed from Warm Lake to Landmark.

July 1, 1918

A nine-page article about the car trip from Boise to Warm Lake for a summer job surveying with the USGLO (now called the BLM) by Ernest May. (no link) The first car probably traveled to Warm Lake in the 1915-1918 era.

1920 census

Was taken January 20. Warm Lake was in the South Fork precinct of Valley County.

Fall and winter of 1922

The Bureau of Public Roads contracted to replace the timber truss bridge (log abutments) with a steel truss bridge on concrete abutments on the South Fork of the Salmon River, Warm Lake Highway. The holes for the abutments were excavated during low water in the fall. Water was heated for the concrete. The fresh concrete was tented and heated so the concrete would cure and gain the proper strength.


U.S. Bureau of Public Roads had a contract for road construction from the South Fork of the Salmon River to Landmark. This widened the road built in 1917.


Clayne Baker’s grandfather Howard F. Baker built the Baker cabin on lot 1, on the east side of the lake. The logs were from a cabin at Knox that they bought. Burt Bostwick, a mountain man and prospector, lived at the Baker cabin for a time starting in 1926.
Clayne Baker oral history


The road from Cascade, Warm Lake, Pen Basin, Deadwood was extended through to Bear Valley.


Warm Lake hotel lessee Clark and Beulah Cox packed fishermen and hunters.
Cox book.

Around 1928

Pop Mashburn hauled bags of cement from Warm Lake to Deadwood by dog sled. Indians raised him. He had a cabin on lot 62 on the west side of Warm Lake, now the Hunter cabin.
Morford notes


Deadwood Dam was built and all supplies were railed to Cascade and trucked via Warm Lake and Landmark to Deadwood. They used Coleman trucks from a Montana dam project to haul the cement.
Source: Lonesome Whistle by Duane Peterson 1998


April 12 census of Valley County, Bernard precinct, at Warm Lake listed Seaweards, Bob Barr, Wm. & Mary Kesler, Earl Hall, Albert Bostwick and apparently others that were working on the Deadwood Dam. The Kesler’s were listed as owners of a roadhouse.

1931, Oct.3

Mary L. “Molly” Kesler vs. C. S. Jones case went to the Idaho Supreme court and was remanded to the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, in and for Valley County for retrial. Molly was awarded $40.00 and cost of the suit for the value of the fox pelt. They had raised foxes at Warm Lake for a period of time.


Sylvester Kinney and the Gordon Blinn’s built the first cabins on the west side of the lake. The size of the Kinney cabin was 16’ by 20’ and is now the Gill/Foster cabin, lot 30. Charlie Gill and Jack Nickolis from the Kinney’s and Gordon Blinn and son Herbert Blinn built their cabins at the same time. They teamed-up and worked one day on one cabin and the next day on the other. Ruth Kinney Gill cooked for them in a tent. The Blinn’s cabin is now the Adolphson cabin, lot 29.
Gill/Foster oral history


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC’s) was established by 1933 Act and camp was established at Warm Lake (now the Baptist Camp) and continued until WWII. A Warm Lake CCC camp newspaper titled “Chipmunk Chatter” was published Sept. 5, 1933. In the 1930’s the Warm Lake swimming pool was built by the CCC’s on the South Fork of the Salmon River and used hot springs for water. It opened in 1936 (Cascade News). It was closed at the end of 1973 and filled with soil. The CCC’s also built the Warm Lake water system. (USFS) The Warm Lake CCC camp was designated F-166, Stolle meadows F-163, Cascade F-60, Poverty Flat F-57, and Camp South Fork F-168. Due to severe winters at Warm Lake the CCC’s were entrained to Reno NV winter of 1936-37 and some other winters they were at Camp Gallagher east of Garden Valley.

1933, July 26

William B. “Billy” Rice died in Boise of typoid fever. He was age 16. (Cascade News July 28, 1933) Billy Rice Boy Scout camp and now the beach were named in his honor.


Boy Scout Camp Billy Rice operated at the NW part of Warm Lake. The Wm. Ben Rice family paid the lease fee all the years the camp operated in honor of their son Billy who died of typhoid.
(This information from Stan Pilcher, Ross Hadfield, & Idaho Mountains Our Home by Cox page 36).
The camp was open with 65-70 scouts from Emmett and Nyssa. Scout officials were trying to get CCC’s to help build an assembly hall, outdoor fireplace, and other permanent structures.
Cascade News July 19, 1935.
July 3,1936 the Cascade News reported the Ore-Ida Boy Scout camp was open at Warm Lake during July and Aug. Camping periods of 10 days rather than the previous 7 days was being used. A new swimming pool is an added attraction at the camp.
Note: this must be the Warm Lake plunge.

March 1935

Molly Kesler heard an airplane circling around 11 PM in a snowstorm over Warm Lake. She phoned Cascade and they called Boise to confirm the United Airlines plane was lost. She built a fire on the frozen lake so the pilot could get a bearing on Cascade. Cars lined up to light the runway 1.5 miles east of town. The pilot and one passenger were treated for frostbite since the heater was not working. Nine were on board. The next day the plane was flown to Boise.
Cascade News March 29, 1935.
Molly thought the plane was a Johnson Flying Service plane and called Johnson but it wasn’t theirs. The next morning one engine wouldn’t start so they drained the oil and heated it on a stove. (Don Campbell oral history.) The plane was a twin engine Boeing 247.

In 1930’s

Mollie’s hot springs bathhouse with wooden tub was operated on the South Fork of the Salmon. Statesmen article. The numerous hot springs in the region are evidence of the many fault lines that are beneath the surface. They occasionally rattle the area with earthquakes.
Rivers & Rails p16

May 1935

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Campbell opened Campbell’s Camp (North Shore Lodge).
Cascade News 9/18/1936


The Fish & Game planted 21,000 fingerlings in Warm Lake and 9,000 in Tule Lake.
Cascade newspaper Aug. 30, 1935


Warm Lake’s natural water level was raised about 15 inches by a dam at the outlet.
Source: History of the Boise National Forest.


Holverson cabin was built in Paradise Valley. Dr. Harmon
Holverson oral history


The water system was completed around the lake this fall.

July 29, 1939

Ambrose Mitchell a CCC worker drowns in Warm Lake when a boat that he was rowing capsized. His body was recovered the next day.
From the Cascade News Aug. 4, 1939.


Warm Lake Hotel was purchased from Bill & Molly Kesler by Dr. Leo E. Jewell MD of Meridian. His brother-in-law Bill Dobbs was manager. They sold to Bert and Ester Brewster in 1945.


Warm Lake had a post office.
History of the Boise National Forest p146


The power line was built from Cascade to Stibnite to facilitate mining of vital minerals for the war effort. This made it possible to provide power to the Warm Lake area.
83 Miles of Hell

1945, Aug. 31

A father and 2 year old son drown in Warm Lake when the son fell out of the boat and the father jumped in. The boat pushed away when he jumped in. Neither could swim. A six and a half year old son was left adrift. Several boats dragged for them but the bodies were never found.
Cascade News Sept. 7, 1945


The winter was cold with abundant snow
The Cascade News Dec. 24, 1948, Cascade low temperature was -31 last Thursday. At Crawford low temperatures reported were: 1919 -44, 1924 -34, 1926-1927 -38, Jan. 1941 -28.
The Cascade News Jan. 9, 1949, Landmark low temperature was -54.
The Cascade News Jan. 14, 1949, Warm Lake snow depth was 64”.
The Cascade News Feb. 18, 1949, The train has been stalled in the snow at Big Eddy for 7 days and a truck with commodities for Stibnite took a week to make it through the snow slides.
The Cascade News March 11, 1949, reports snow depths: Big Creek summit 92”, Warm Lake summit 85”, Landmark summit 76”.


Electricity provided to the Warm Lake users.
Morford notes.


Road was built along the South Fork of the Salmon by Molly hot springs.
Morford notes.


Knox population estimated at 10, Warm Lake population at 8.
Source: Gazetteer of Cities.


The Warm Lake Highway was paved from the Big Creek Summit to the Stolle Meadows Road.


The new South Fork of the Salmon River concrete bridge at Warm Lake replaced the old steel truss bridge.
Bureau of Public Roads


The Warm Lake Highway was paved from Milepost 6.9 (Scott Valley) to the Big Creek Summit.


Warm Lake Highway was paved from Crawford Milepost 2.83 to MP 6.9 Scott Valley.

August 1975

Power line built to Paradise Valley cabins.
Meyer notes


The road was paved from Warm Lake (Stolle Meadows Road Jct.) to Landmark.
Meyer notes


The Corps of Engineers had a fish trap built on the South Fork of the Salmon River to trap Chinook salmon. It is downstream from the Warm Lake highway bridge on the South Fork around one mile.

Sept. 1989

Forest fires burnt the hills near south edge of Warm Lake and on Reeves Creek (NE of lake).
Meyer & Morford notes


Thunderbolt Mountain fire burnt north of the lake 3 miles & north.
Meyer notes


Warm Lake Highway rebuilt and repaved from SH55 to Milepost 2.85 at Crawford


Road paved from the Warm Lake Highway down the South Fork to the East Fork of the South Fork.

Jan. 1997

The telephones to cabins at Warm Lake were operational.
Meyer notes

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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C. C. Randall, Randall’s Transfer

Knox P.O. Store; Feed Barn, Wm. Howel, Manager

Post office history places Knox 25 miles NE of Cascade

source: Valley County Idaho Gen Web Thunder Mountain News
[h/t SMc]
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Warm Lake Homesteads

… In the Warm Lake area, the largest settlement was an area called Randall Town. Charles Randall settled there in 1898 and filed for a homestead in 1909.

The original Homestead Act in the 1860’s did not allow for entries in unsurveyed lands … In 1906, a homestead law was enacted to allow homestead entries on approved agricultural lands. Most of the back country ranches were under this law, except those mining areas that became patented under the 1873 mining law.

Charles Randall operated a successful business providing service to the Thunder Mountain mining district. The following advertisement appeared in the Roosevelt newspaper in 1904: “Meals, Lodgings, Groceries, Hay, Grain”

In 1912, Daniel Robnett acquired the property and started raising hay. As many as 200 people in the local area obtained services and goods from the established community now known as Knox Ranch, named after a miner, John Knox. Knox purchased some of the buildings about the time the Randall family left.

While Randall still owned the property, the Kesler family, Bill and Molly, moved there from Spink. When Robnett took over the Knox Ranch, the Keslers moved to Warm Lake and started a hotel business and a fox farm on the side.

In 1917, a third entry was made on the Knox land by David Drake and a patent was granted in 1922. Another name associated with Warm Lake was Betty Kline.

Even though the memorial at Warm Lake indicates the early day pioneer as having the name “Billy Kline”, in reality, his name was Arthur Cline. Forest Service records indicate that a report was submitted to Forest Supervisor Guy Mains by Assistant Ranger WL Baker in 1910 recommending the homestead be granted to Arthur Cline. The report was a chronological development of the homestead. Mr. Cline had settled on the land August 1, 1903 and he lived on the land continuously for the next seven years. He had placed the area under cultivation and had farming utensils such as plows, harrows, mower, rake and wagon. His dwelling consisted of an 18’x20′ log house and he had approximately 30 acres surrounded by rail fence. Cline raised hay for sale to a large number of sheepmen, campers, miners and others who passed through Knox to Thunder Mountain, South Fork, Bear Valley and Deadwood. He believed that his hay could be produced more reasonably than the $25-$30 per ton it was costing to haul from Long Valley to Knox. Because the homestead application was filed on unsurveyed land, it was required that he obtain a legal survey from the Surveyor General, Department of Interior; however, the survey was never completed and Mr. Cline disappeared from the scene.

Excerpted from “Homesteads and Ranches” by C. Eugene Brock, pages 22-24, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
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Warm Lake Hotel

“The Warm Lake Hotel was built in 1910. It opened in 1911 and burnt to the ground in the 1949s.

“This hotel and store and a few cabins were built by Bill and Mollie Kessler. The hotel was operated by Clark and Buelah Cox in 1924-26. The next year they bought the ranch on Johnson Creek and started a dude ranch. When Clark and Beulah operated the business their prices were 60 cents for meals and rooms from 50 cents to $1.00 per night according to the room you got and how many shared the room.

“The Warm Lake Hotel became more popular after the road was built from Landmark down Johnson Creek and became the main road to Yellow Pine. The road over Warm Lake Summit to Landmark for a long time was used only by people going into the Deadwood area.”

Duane Petersen, “Valley County – The Way it Was” (p.88)

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WhosToBlame-aWho’s, to Blame?

Idaho County free press October 25, 1906

Monday, October 8th, Thomas Ryan of Knox was brought to Grangeville on a so-called commitment to the county jail to serve out a sentence of five dollars fine and seventy three dollars cost. Said Ryan was arrested on a warrant issued by one Macy, a newly appointed justice of the peace of Warm Lake precinct, Idaho county, charged with assault with a deadly weapon. This was the justice’s first case and he had no statute, so he telephoned to the county attorney for instructions, and was instructed to try the man and if found guilty fine him and if innocent turn him loose, so the justice found him guilty and appointed a man, there being officer there to bring him to Grangeville, a distance of two hundred miles. The whole proceeding was a farce from the beginning as the justice had no jurisdiction to try the man, the charge, being a felony and he could only give him a preliminary examination and bind him over for trial in the district court provided he considered the evidence sufficient, besides the justice had no authority to appoint an officer to bring him to Grangeville, and the whole proceeding was so irregular that the County Attorney advised the Sheriff not to confine the man and he was turned loose. Nevertheless the man that brought him here, a private citizen, presented a bill to the county commissioners for seventy dollars for his services, which the commissioners promptly allowed and he got the money.

courtesy Heather Heber Callahan Idaho History 1860sto 1960s
source: Library of Congress
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1928 Warm Lake photos

Warm Lake – from near Warm Lake Summit
(click image to see original photo)
“Warm Lake – from near Warm Lake Summit”

Warm Lake Grade
(click image to see original photo)
“Jess B. Hawley, AF Coowrod (?) & HG Shellworth on Warm Lake Grade”
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Precinct Boundaries and Election Officers, 1906

Idaho County Free Press., July 12, 1906

Warm Lake

Commencing at the mouth of east fork of south fork of Salmon river, west to county line of Boise county, thence along the said county line to the head waters of the south fork of Salmon river, thence east on the divide between the headwaters of Deadwood creek and Salmon river, thence north along the divide between Johnson and the south fork of Salmon river to the east fork of south fork of Salmon river, thence west to the mouth of east fork, the place of beginning. H.G. Abbott, registrar. Alec Duffer, C.S., Stolle, J. Lucas, judges. Mrs. G.H. Moore, distributing clerk. Polling place, post office at Knox.

source: Chronicling America – Full extract posted at AHGP
[h/t SMc]
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1910 – U.S. Census, Roosevelt Precinct

Idaho County [now mainly Valley County]
(Clement Hanson, census taker)
Click here for File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by: Sharon McConnel November, 2005
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1920 Census for Valley County, Idaho


Compiled by: Wesley W. Craig, Ph.D. & Bea Snyder, USGenWeb Project and the IDGenWeb Project Archives
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1930 Census Valley County, Bernard Precinct (Warm Lake)

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4

1940 Census Valley County

(Entire County)

[Note: the 1930 and 1940 Census links now require a sign-in – sorry.]
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1940 Map “Warm Lake”

(click image for larger size)
source: The University of Alabama
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Post office History

Warm Lake
established Mar. 15, 1940, Leonard W. Dodds
Harold G. Brewster, July 15, 1945
Betty J. Clark, June 30, 1947
discontinued Aug. 1, 1953 mail to Cascade (rescinded)
Mrs. Betty J. Wolfe, June 1, 1958 (wed)
discontinued April 30, 1960
A summer post office.
29 mi. NE of Cascade; 3 mi. SE of Knox;
Sec. 7, T15N, R7E. At a summer lodge.

source: Valley County GenWeb
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1940 Metsker Map Warm Lake


source: Valley County Metsker Maps, 1940
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Warm Lake Summit Road

(c. 1929-1931)
Knowles Bros, Coleman Truck Fleet Cascade Idaho
(click image for full size)
(click image for full size)
(click image for full size)
(click image for full size)

Ron Smith, local historian & major contributor to “Pans, Picks and Shovels” by the Valley Co. History Project writes –

“The pictures of the Knowles Bros. Coleman Trucks are taking sacked cement from Cascade, for the construction of the Deadwood Dam in the 1920’s.”

[h/t SMc]
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Deadwood Dam

Approved by President Coolidge in 1928, the isolated site required substantial road building. Construction of the concrete arch dam itself began in late 1929 and was completed in March 1931.

Construction of the Deadwood Dam in 1930

Link to Deadwood Mining History
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Warm Lake Road

(c. 1950s? – undated)

(click image for original)
(click image for original)
source: ITD
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Warm Lake, Idaho 1951

From the Mike Fritz Collection
courtesty Heather Heber Callahan Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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2002 Warm Lake in Boise National Forest, Idaho

source: U.S. Forest Service, Wikipedia
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2007 Cascade Complex

Fuel Treatments, Fire Suppression, and Their Interactions With Wildfire and its Effects: The Warm Lake Experience During the Cascade Complex of Wildfires in Central Idaho, 2007

Graham, Russell T.; Jain, Theresa B.; Loseke, Mark. 2009.

Wildfires during the summer of 2007 burned over 500,000 acres within central Idaho. These fires burned around and through over 8,000 acres of fuel treatments designed to offer protection from wildfire to over 70 summer homes and other buildings located near Warm Lake. This area east of Cascade, Idaho, exemplifies the difficulty of designing and implementing fuel treatments in the many remote wildland urban interface settings that occur throughout the western United States. The Cascade Complex of wildfires burned for weeks, resisted control, were driven by strong dry winds, burned tinder dry forests, and only burned two rustic structures. This outcome was largely due to the existence of the fuel treatments and how they interacted with suppression activities. In addition to modifying wildfire intensity, the burn severity to vegetation and soils within the areas where the fuels were treated was generally less compared to neighboring areas where the fuels were not treated. This paper examines how the Monumental and North Fork Fires behaved and interacted with fuel treatments, suppression activities, topographical conditions, and the short- and long-term weather conditions.

link to paper, lots of photos and info:
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2013 Topo Map Warm Lake


Link to Warm Lake History part 2

Warm Lake History papers by by LeRoy Meyer
Link: Warm Lake Area History
Link: Warm Lake Lodge Operators
Link: Post Offices in the Greater Warm Lake Area
Link: Bob Barr Interview
Link: Charles Gill Interview About Warm Lake

page updated Dec 21, 2019