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Some Recollections of the 1973 Field Camp

Some Recollections of the 1973 Field Camp

The cross country trip included the Muskegon, Michigan waste disposal project, Baraboo, the Duluth Complex, taconite mines, Calgary, Banff, Sullivan Mine, and Butte.

Paul Zell recalls that before crossing the border into Canada, "I can still remember Duff telling us ahead of time  'I know some of you use marijuana, just make sure you don't have any of it when we cross the border into Canada.'  For some reason, the Department hasn't run its field camp field trips into Canada since."  Duff remembers that in fact the group was searched for several hours at the border.

Earl Detra adds on the crossing: "Ah, yes, the border incident.  It did happen.  We spent most of an evening there being searched.  We all thought it was kind of funny except for a few of the perpetrators who knew what was going on.  Then it got real serious when the agents started searching the microscopes.   As a consequence our schedule was upset and we missed an appointment the next day."

Earl, commenting on the picture of the lake near Kenora:  "Yes, we were swimming in the lake.  Probably not advisable after sitting in vehicles for two weeks.  After eating lunch, Duff pulled a Tarzan act and dove into the lake and started swimming for the far shore.  Not wanting to be shown up, we all followed.  About half way across one swimmer came down with some pretty severe cramps and needed a tow."

Paul remembers "a great time in Canada after the border incident, especially at the hot spring near Banff.  A minor incident occurred in Calgary.  One morning we left camp and drove to the Geological Survey of Canada office.  After we got there, we had to send Deane Smith back to pick up his daughter at the campground.  She was assigned to the faculty van, but sometimes rode with the geology students.  Deane's excuse was 'I thought she was with you guys.' "

Ray McGlew remembers "a large cloud of smoke at the last campsite before we re-entered the U.S.  Some of the campers were using the last of the stuff stored in the microscopes that had not been searched previously."

Further thoughts from Earl: "I remember the Heart Mountain project.  We all dreaded it when Barry Voight pulled out the binocs.  He was sure to find something up on that ridge a few hundred feet above us that we just had to go see.  I also remember that we couldn't tour the Sunshine Mine because of the disaster there the year before.  The Sunshine Mine is/was a well-known silver producer in the Silver Valley in northern Idaho.  They had a mine fire in 1972.  I think some 68 miners were killed."  [Art Montana, a former underground miner, states that in fact 91 miners were killed.]

Barry Voight remembers a tuna fish incident: "I remember once with Boettcher we stopped for groceries in Cody before driving into Sunlight Basin and doing a multiple day camping/mapping exercise up in Dead Indian Creek.  In the grocery store, Art asked me whether I had ever heard of a particular brand of tuna fish he was contemplating buying for his dinner.  Yes, I told him, I'd heard of it.  It was a very good brand.  So he put a couple of cans in his cart and kept going.
     Later that day we started hiking in, and as usual Art was pushing somewhat harder than the students could comfortably go.  I could keep up with him OK, so we got to a campsite and had set up camp before a lot of the students arrived.  The path was clear enough, so there was no chance of their getting lost; it was just a question of time, crossing creeks and keeping up.  Anyway, over the campfires, groups were cooking dinner and Art was a little ahead of the rest, opening his tuna and making some kind of casserole.  When he was in the middle of his meal, a couple of students passed by the fire and noticed the labeling on the cans.  'Hey, Dr. Boettcher, how's your dinner?' they smirked.  'Is Nine-Lives really that good?'  It made their day." 

Ray remembered this incident also: "When we were deep in the woods at Heart Mountain [Art] was concerned about the tuna he bought at the last stop because it was a bit discolored.  It turns out that it was tuna cat food, which he ate anyway." 

Barry also remembers an encounter in Dillon during the metamorphics project: "In Dillon we ran into a character named Steve Malone who ran the Moose Bar, under 'Moose Rooms.' Anyway, Steve liked us but was just out of prison, having shot a customer for pulling the plug on the jukebox. He looked like Johnny Ringo, dressed in black with a silver studded belt, and a narrow moustache. If he bought you a whiskey, you drank it with a smile."

Art Montana recalls: "I was in charge of the 1973 camp, which lasted from July 3 to August 10. Deane Smith, Duff Gold, & Earl Verbeek arrived on the 3rd with the cross-country crew.  Two students were indeed caught with marijuana as that caravan crossed into Canada near Fort Frances, Ontario.
     One student, Chuck Yurchick, fell and was hit in the head by a falling rock while we were measuring the section in Clarks Fork Canyon. I took him to a specialist in Billings (Dr. Lewis Robinson), and Duff Gold flew with him to Pittsburgh on July 15th.
     Barry Voight showed up on the 21st day of camp (July 24) and took us to the Heart Mountain area. Kerrick arrived on the night of August 3rd to help with mapping in the Ruby Range. He went home on the 8th.
     On July 25, Barry and I took the students to Dead Indian Meadows and then up Pat O'Hara Mtn (long hike). The next morning, I hiked out, drove highways 120 & 208 to Red Lodge, picked up everyone's mail and then shopped for their grocery requests (mostly beer & canned goods). My pack on the hike back in to Dead Indian Meadows must have weighed a ton, but I knew that the students would appreciate my efforts.
     While we were working out of Colter Bay on July 30th, mapping the Gros Ventre slide and volcanic rocks in Yellowstone, a LARGE tree blew down across the two tents that housed the women. Fortunately, we were in the field at the time, or it would have been a disaster."

And Chuck Yurchick replies: "I am e-mailing you to say I really like the Alumni Field Camp site. It brings back a lot of good memories. Just wanted to let  you know that I did suffer a nasty concussion in Clark's Fork Canyon. I remember everything that happened that day. The ride to the Red Lodge hospital was an adventure. I saw two of everything during the 50+ miles of the trip.
     I remember the Fort Francis crossing. Our vehicle went through and we were ordering pizza, waiting for the others. Then we were called back and our vehicle and our persons were thoroughly searched! Never did get to eat the pizza! Ha! Ha!.  Also remember that Dr. Smith was like a little kid in a candy store when we collected jasper from a tailings pile in Soudan, Minnesota."

Ray McGlew sent this email after the 2008 reunion: "Returning to Penn State... made me realize what an important part of my past the department has been.  Although I only practiced geology for 11 years in the oil industry, the training and experience has helped me as I've worked in many other domains.  The experience of the many field trips (local trips as part of coursework, informal trips with the GeoSci club, and of course the two cross-country trips, first with Charlie Thornton and then with Duff, as well as Field Camp) added to my world-view not only concerning the geosciences, but also the softer side including meeting people from around the country.  So... many thanks to you for giving me a great start in my adult life.  I hope I can pay it forward to another generation!