Cabin Fever

Excerpted from the original Introduction to Cabin Fever.


In 1987 the members of a group known as The Seeley Lake Writers Club—Pastor Rod Kvamme, Mildred Chaffin, Herb Townsend and Suzanne Vernon—decided to meet once a month to provide support for their fellow writers, photographers and historians. Several other local writers, including Delia Dreyer and Pat Smith, attended the early meetings. After a few months, this small, informal group decided to gather their stories into one book, with the combined goal of publishing the book in time for the Montana Centennial in 1989. Cabin Fever was born.

Early in the project, it seemed sensible to organize these stories about the past 100 years of life in the Blackfoot, Clearwater and Swan Valleys in chronological order.

"Indians" tells about early Indian activity. Mildred Chaffin shared her memories of life among the Indians during her youth in the Clearwater and Swan Valleys.

"Breaking Ground" covers the beginning of White settlement, wherein Mildred chronicled the Seely family. who in the late 1800s homesteaded on the shores of the lake which now bears their name—Seeley Lake, and explains how the name gained that extra “e”).

Mildred also contributed stories about the trials of the homesteaders and the trappers who either earned their living entirely or supplemented their farming income by trapping and selling the furs.

"The Lake Country - A Summer Place" describes the early recreational use of the lakes in the Clearwater, Blackfoot and Swan valleys, including how the working ranches became "dude" ranches over time.

Eventually Seeley Lake became "A Real Town" as the timber workers and their families demanded facilities for social functions like schools, celebrations and commerce.