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There is a forest reserve ranger badge in a private collection that is stamped "Department of the Interior." This indicates its use before the 1905 separation, for Gifford Pinchot, chief of Agriculture's new Bureau of Forestry, immediately ordered new badges for his rangers when he obtained the forest reserves. A photograph in the Forest Service photo collection depicts William Watts Hooper wearing what appears to be this badge.

Forest Reserve Ranger Badge
Forest Reserve Ranger Badge, 1898-1906. This badge was probably issued to the rangers working in the national parks as well as those in the national forests, since both were known as Forest Rangers. Courtesy of Rick Howard

The badge in the private collection was made by the John Robbins Manufacturing Company of Attleboro, Massachusetts. It is 2-inches in diameter, convex in shape and made of German or nickel-silver. It has US in inch-high letters in the center with FOREST RESERVE RANGER around it in 3/16-inch letters. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR is superimposed over the US in 1/8-inch letters. As was common practice with badges at the time, all the letters are stamped into the metal instead of being raised. The park rangers may have worn this badge or one stamped "park ranger" rather than "forest reserve ranger." If this was the case, though, it seems logical that they would have been known as park rangers instead of forest rangers.

William Watts Hooper
William Watts Hooper, c.1900. Hooper was appointed forester in the Kenosha Range country sometime after 1887 and remained with the Forest Service in the 1905 separation. He is shown wearing the 1898 Forest Reserve Ranger badge. Forest Service/477445

Frank Liebig
Frank Liebig, Flathead Forest Reserve, c.1902. Liebig remained with the Forest Service when it was removed from the Department of the Interior in 1905. He is wearing his "shiny silver badge" that stated DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR/RANGER. There also appears to be a small badge under the large one. NPSHPC/GLAC-Neg#6288

This is probably the badge alluded to by Frank F. Liebig in an article he wrote in 1944 for the Forest Service. concerning his recollections as a ranger on the Flathead Forest Reserve in 1902. "The Supervisor gave me a notebook or two and a nice shiny silver badge," he recalled. "It said on it, 'Department of the Interior, Ranger.'" [2] No example of a "Department of the Interior/Ranger" badge from this era is known, so Liebig's recollection may have been faulty. The US and FOREST RESERVE are much larger than the DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR and it seems likely that he would have remembered them if indeed, this was the style of badge issued to him. Yet such a badge may have been used before 1905 by the national parks while they and the forest reserves were both under Interior. "National park service" then denoted Interior's park function, not the future bureau. It's interesting to note that in an image of him taken around this time he also has what appears to be a second small badge under his ranger badge.

The origin of the bottom shield badge in the Sequoia photographs is unknown. These are most likely Deputy Marshal badges issued by some local jurisdiction to give the ranger added authority when arresting malefactors. To complicate matters further, the shield badge on Charlie Blossom is different from that of the other three rangers, but it has the most contrast of the group.

There is another interesting badge with a "C" scroll strap border, in a private collection. It contains the words SEQUOIA NAT'L PARK in two lines in the center, FOREST RANGER in a curved bar at the top and CALIFORNIA at the bottom. Since men working in the parks were considered "Park Rangers" after 1905. this badge most likely pre-dates that period. But without documentary or pictorial evidence to substantiate its use in the park, it has been relegated to the park associated badges section.

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Last Modified: Fri, Jan 17 2003 07:08:48 am PDT

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