My Forty Years Scribblin's
Historical Accounts
The Tamaracks

This piece was written in 1988 and published in Cabin Fever (1989). The Tamaracks is a resort on the banks of Seeley Lake.


The Tamaracks Resort, as the name implies, sits half hidden in a grove of larch trees that have stood for hundreds of years on the banks of Seeley Lake. Henry Turner, Missoula, took over the summer home lease from a group of Missoula doctors and businessmen. He built the place into a dude ranch beginning in 1929. The Turners operated the Tamaracks as a family business that functioned for approximately twenty years and furnished accommodations for a ten-day stay with pack trips into the Primitive Area, now The Bob Marshall Wilderness. Rates for a complete stay were $50 per day.

Pelham Turner, now a Missoula businessman, said that a five-day trip called "The Range Riders" was a favorite diversion for the horseback enthusiasts. The trip included guests from other ranches, beginning at the Gordon Ranch in Swan Valley. The second night out, the group enjoyed water sports at the Tamaracks including the unusual "swimming the horses" with riders in the saddle and only the horses' heads above water. The Tamaracks was unusual also in that the place owned a sailboat. The third day out, people from the Double Arrow entertained with an 0-Mok-See and a dance. The fourth day was spent at the Circle W on the Blackfoot River which was a working ranch where all of the riders took part in the ranch pursuits. After the Circle W the participants returned to The Tamaracks by way of Tote Road Lake (the Woodworth road).

The Tamaracks was plagued by its proximity to the Seeley Lake Ranger Station. The Resort's horses were wont to push down the fences and migrate to the Forest Service lawn, which, during the summer's heat, became the only green spot in the vicinity. Young Pel Turner, who was largely responsible for the animals, often found himself at odds with the current Ranger. Turner was often invited, with emphasis, to come down with his shovel and do away with the evidence.

Pel Turner stated that the crash of 1929 put a crimp in dude ranching, but the automobile made the greatest impact on the business.

Several owners and operators have called the Tamaracks their home since the Turners left Seeley Lake. Presently most of the cabins are being converted to year 'round use. Water sports are still a favorite summer entertainment. A recreation hall and outdoor activities are offered and the place is a perfect setting for the growing agenda of winter sports.