Now and Then
Page 5 of 6
his photo, taken about 1895, shows the location of the residence built a few years earlier by homesteaders Jake and May Wetzsteon at the edge of Ross Hole. The moist northeast-facing slope behind the house to the left supported a healthy stand of Douglas-fir trees. The typically open, dry and grassy, southwest-facing slope to the right supports widely-spaced ponderosa pine trees. Evidence derived from fire scars in nearby ponderosa pines suggests that this site may have been burned about once every decade for hundreds of years prior to the Wetzsteons' arrival. No logging had ever been done here. National Forests in the Northwest are striving to re-establish ponderosa pine habitats such as this one.
This view, taken in 1980, shows the result of the absence of fire and logging since 1910. It is reasonable to suppose that in 1805 this locality looked much more like the first picture than this one. Indeed, it may be said that today's "Great American Forest" is as much a product of settlement as a victim of it.
For his painting, Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flatheads in Ross' Hole, artist C.M. Russell made sketches from the front porch of the Wetzsteons' home.
--Joseph Mussulman, 1998; rev. June 2014