Cabins and Conferences: Celebrating the Murie Conservation Legacy, February 2000

From 1920 to 1945, Olaus Murie did pioneering work for the Service around the world, including a definitive study on North American elk.  His wife, Mardy, accompanied Olaus on his many travels and shared his passion for wildlife and for protecting the remaining American wilderness.

The newest addition to the National Conservation Training Center’s conservation museum is an exact replica of the Murie cabin in Moose, Wyoming, long a destination for conservationists from around the world and an important symbol of a defining period in Service history.  The cabin, along with a planned Murie Historical Workshop, is the museum’s latest tribute to conservation heroes who have helped shape the Service.

Olaus Murie retired from the Service in 1945 and went on to be director and later president of The Wilderness Society.  The following year Olaus and Mardy, along with Murie’s brother Adolph and his wife Louise, purchased the STS Dude Ranch on the banks of the Snake River in Moose, Wyoming.  In 1948 construction was completed and for decades conservationists and scientists from all over the world have visited the Muries' cabin to gain inspiration and wisdom.  It became a home for American conservation history and the exact replica is now a fitting addition to the museum at the home of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

After Olaus Murie’s death in 1963, the entire ranch was sold to Grand Teton National Park, and in 1998 it was designated a National Historic District.  Mardy Murie continued to reside in her cabin on the ranch until her death in 2003 at the age of 101.

This highly accurate replica of the cabin is the result of over 1,500 hours of careful work by more than 60 volunteers from Teton Science School and the Jackson, Wyoming, community.  Paintings on the walls are replicas and the book titles accurately reflect the Muries' literary tastes.  The National Conservation Training Center extends deep gratitude to the Murie Center for the long term loan of this historical object, one in a growing collection of materials on Olaus, Mardy and Adolph Murie housed at the archives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Celebrating the Muries is an ongoing project at the National Conservation Training Center.  To commemorate their contributions the training center will host a Murie Historical Workshop July 6-9, 2000, some eighty years after Olaus Murie was first offered a job as a biologist for the Bureau of Biological Survey (at the salary of $1,500 a year).

Workshop planners hope this gathering of conservationists, scientists, educators and others will reexamine the work of federal and private conservationists in understanding and protecting the environment.  The first day of the workshop will look historically at the work of the Muries and their ongoing legacy, and the second day will be a workshop for small groups to discuss future conservation efforts and agree on action items for the next millennium of American conservation.  Enrollment information and a complete itinerary will be available in the spring.  This gathering, in conjunction with last year's Aldo Leopold Conference and the Rachel Carson Conference in 2001, is part of the ongoing effort to remember and revitalize the legacy of these conservation pioneers and energize the conservationists of the next century.

To learn more about the Muries, visit the online exhibit.

--Mark Madison, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, West Virginia