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Historic St. Maries
Who was "Big Ed Pulaski"?
Edward C. Pulaski, a onetime miner, packer, and gifted jack-of-all-trades, was one of the heroes of the 1910 fire. He is famous for saving the lives of 45 men trapped in the raging forest fire by leading them to the relative safety of an abandoned mine shaft. At the time of the Big Blowup, 20-21 August, 1910, he was the forest ranger who oversaw the Wallace District, Coeur d'Alene National Forest.
His gripping acccount, My Most Exciting Experience as a Forest Ranger, won the First Prize in the Ranger Story Contest, American Forestry, August 1923.
The Pulaski tool, a prototype which emerged from Big Ed's blacksmith shop prior to the 1910 fire season, has become the premier firefighting tool. It began as a combined ax and a mattock. An improved design was considered for patent in 1913. Improvements continued to be made and by 1920, its use in the Northern Rockies was widespread.
Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910 by Stephen J. Pyne, submited by Carol Humphrey.
Fire Management Today , Volume 63, No. 1, Winter 2003