Ed Pulaski

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ed Pulaski
Ed Pulaski, 1910.jpg
Edward Crockett Pulaski

(1866-02-09)February 9, 1866[1]
DiedFebruary 2, 1931(1931-02-02) (aged 64)[1]
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Resting placeCoeur d'Alene, ID, Forest Cemetery, Section E, Block 40, Lot 6
OccupationForest Ranger
EmployerU.S. Forest Service

Edward Crockett "Ed" Pulaski (February 9, 1866 – February 2, 1931) was a U.S. Forest Service ranger based in Wallace, Idaho.[2] Pulaski traveled west and worked as a miner, railroad worker, and ranch foreman before joining the forest service in 1908.[3] He was reputed to be, and personally claimed that he was, a collateral descendant of Casimir Pulaski.[4]

Great Fire of 1910[edit]

On August 20, 1910, Pulaski was credited with saving all but five of his 45-man crew during what is known as the "Great Idaho Fire," the "Great Fire of 1910" or the "Big Blowup."[2] It had been unusually dry in 1910 and forest fires were rampant across the northern Rockies. Pulaski was supervising crews on the west fork of Placer Creek, about five miles south of Wallace when the fire suddenly broke out of control, overwhelming the crew.

Drawing on his knowledge of the area and of the dynamics of forest fires, Pulaski led his men to safety in an abandoned prospector's mine. After ordering his crew into the mine tunnel, he threatened to shoot with his pistol any man who left. Lying prone on the tunnel floor, all but five of the firefighters survived, though Pulaski himself was temporarily blinded by the fire and smoke.[2] The two horses with them died from smoke inhalation.[5] The mine entrance, now known as the Pulaski Tunnel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6]

Pulaski remained with the Forest Service until 1929, though the great fire's smoke and flames had damaged his lungs and eyes; during that time he petitioned the government for money to care for the graves of the dozens of firefighters killed by the 1910 fire, and for compensation for his wounds.[2]

Pulaski firefighting tool[edit]

Pulaski is widely credited for the invention of the Pulaski in 1911, a hand tool commonly used in wildland firefighting.[7] A combination hand tool with a mattock for digging or grubbing on one side and an axe for chopping on the other, it is often called a "Pulaski tool".[8][9]


Mount Pulaski, a 5480-foot (1670-m) peak 1.5 miles southwest of Wallace, is named for him.

The US Forest Service's Pulaski Tunnel Trail near Wallace, Idaho, provides access to the Nicholson Mine site where Pulaski and his team took shelter.

An initialed ("E.P.") tool, which purportedly belonged to Pulaski himself, is at the Wallace District Mining Museum in Wallace, Idaho in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.[9][10]

American Singer-Songwriter Steve Earle wrote and recorded a song that largely recounts the story of Ed Pulaski's heroic actions and invention, "The Firebreak Line". It appears on his 2017 album "So You Wannabe An Outlaw".

Pulaski's actions during the Great Fire of 1910 were covered in the Drunk History episode "Good Samaritans."[11]


  1. ^ a b "Idaho Death Index, 1911-51 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA". Ancestry.com. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d "The Big Burn-Transcript". American Experience. PBS. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  3. ^ Edward Pulaski - Ranger, Miner, Heroic Firefighter & Inventor at culture.polishsite.us
  4. ^ Pyne, Sonia. "Edward Crockett Pulaski: A Short Biography" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  5. ^ Egan, Timothy (2009). The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 177–79. ISBN 978-0-618-96841-1.
  6. ^ Pyne, Stephen J. (2008). Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. pp. 165–178. ISBN 978-0-87842-544-0.
  7. ^ "The Big Burn-What's a Pulaski?". American Experience. PBS. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Breaking New Ground". Archived from the original on May 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-04.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. ^ a b Davis, James B. (1986). "The True Story of the Pulaski Fire Tool" (PDF). Fire Management Notes. US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. 47 (3): 19–21. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  10. ^ "The Pulaski Axe" (Video). Mysteries at the Museum, Season Six. Travel Channel. 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  11. ^ [1] Rotten Tomatoes

External links and further information[edit]