Cabin Fever
Call of the Wild
The Diamond L Bar

1989 Mildred Chaffin

One of the earliest and better known guest ranches in the Swan Valley was Laird’ s Lodge at Elbow Lake (later named Lindbergh Lake). The Lodge was established by Eli “Cap” Laird and his wife Clementyne “Tyne” in the late 1 920s and early 1 930s. The sobriquet”Cap” was bestowed on Mr. Laird when he operated a barge on Couer d’Alene Lake before coming to the Swan.

Cap and Tyne were aided in the venture by their Sons and a daughter, Marie, and her husband, John Stark. John helped design and construct the lodge and original cabins and handcrafted many of the rustic furnishings with the help of a man by the name of Reed. Marie and Tyne were in charge of upholstery and decorating.

The Lairds were natural entertainers and the lake and its surroundings made a perfect setting for a change of pace. The Lodge attracted a high-class clientele. The name of the lake was changed to Lindbergh Lake when Charles A. Lindbergh vacationed there after his famous solo flight from New York to Paris in the late 1920s. Lindbergh visited at the invitation of the Anaconda Company for a week or more and was treated to several one-day hunting trips in the Glacier and Turquoise Lakes area. The horses were furnished by the Wilhelms of Holland Lake. The lodge and cabins were not built at the time of Lindbergh’ s visit. When Lindbergh vacationed here this area was still used as an Anaconda Company hunting camp. Accommodations consisted of tents.

After Cap Laird’s death, Mrs. Laird sold the property to Richard K. Hickey and Lt. Colonel Ross Greening. The name was changed to the Diamond L Bar—the original brand. Hickey and Greening were college friends. Greening went into the Air Force and was a Lt. Colonel and one of Major Doolittle’s fliers who bombed Tokyo in World War II. After the hairraising episodes of the war, Greening called Dick from London saying that he wanted a place as a “getaway” where he could find some isolation.

“Let’s go fishing!” he said. Dick had heard of a place called Lindbergh Lake that seemed to fill the bill. When Greening arrived in Missoula they “went fishing”. It was 1945. Both men were enthralled with the lake country and Tyne Laird cooked for them. Greening said, “Let’s buy this place,” so that is what they did.

Col. Greening remained with the Air Force and Dick ran the business for ten years. Greening was a sort of silent partner who came to the lake when he was on leave. After Col. Greening’s death, about 1953, Dick operated the guest ranch for another fifteen years.

According to the John Stumps, who spent the summer and fall months at the Diamond L Bar, Dick was a great host. But, as with most such businesses, there were problems.

Guest Ranch Brouchur“The pump that supplied the water to the establishment must have come over on the Mayflower,” Mr. Stump joked. “If we spoke to him and got a disgruntled ‘hrumpff’ for an answer it could mean one of three things: the water line was out, the sewer was plugged or he had just fired the help!” In that case, they just let him alone until the difficulty was ironed out.

The Diamond L Bar has been subdivided and has changed hands several times since its founding. The lodge is presently owned by William “Uke” and Lois Ukrainetz. Their son, wildlife artist Ron Ukrainetz, has his studio at the lodge. The beauty of the Lindbergh Lake area has attracted many people over the years. The following excerpt from one of Cap and Tyne Lairds’ original guest ranch brochures exhibits the kind of western romance typical of the guest ranch era.

Naturally people like you don’t hone for synthetic cowhands and surroundings. You can probably find atmosphere buckaroos picking guitars and soft spots right in your own home-settlement night clubs. We figure you want the real thing with mountain lakes, trout streams, saddle horses, tall pines and tamaracks, and cool nights combined with modern comforts and conveniences. You want trails through mountain scenery that hasn’t been manicured.

Well, we can stake you a claim to a bed-roll and a handy spot near the tail gate of the chuck wagon at one of the west’s best spreads. Let an old-timer tell you about it. Just squander a few minutes to answer this smoke signal and full details will reach you by the next stage.