Skip to main content

Major funding for this project provided by:

Research Library at The Museum of Ventura County
Searching for a photo number? Use the advanced search.

The Elements: Snow and Smoke

Keene shoveling snow to get to the outhouse in the backcountry

Wildfire rages in the backcountry

"Adventures, in my opinion, are mostly mishaps and a forest ranger does not go around looking for them. He tries to avoid them, but in spite of all efforts he is bound to connect up with them occasionally. A forest ranger is primarily the policemen of the forest, but his job is a lot more than that. He must forever be on guard to protect the forest from its worst enemy, and that enemy is fire." 

Jacinto Damien Reyes, 30 year Forest Ranger Cuyama District

Inherent in backcountry adventures was the threat of both snow and wildfires. Keene captured footage of both. 

Storms in the backcountry would dump snow on winter campers, making it necessary to shovel and trudge their way out. 

More dangerous though was the threat of wildfire. Jacinto Damien Reyes, a Ranger with the Cuyama District, describes wildfires and wildfire fighting in an article written in the 1930s:

"I have seen fires when tongues of flame shot through the air like bolts of lightning. I have seen bolts of flame leap right out of the main fire with a roar like thunder, shoot through the air and set fire to new tinder as much as a quarter of a mile away. When a fire fighting crew gets caught in that sort of stuff, there is nothing much to do but to run and then try to check the flames at some more favorable point." 

The Elements: Snow and Smoke