Sunday, November 21, 2010


smokeycubCapitan, NM – In 1944 the Forest Service originated the use of a poster depicting Smokey Bear. We were really close to his burial site so we decided to visit Smokey.

On May 4, 1950, a carelessly discarded cigarette started the Los Tablos blaze in the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, NM. ON May 6, a second fire, known as the Capitan Gap fire started in the same general area. Together these fires destroyed 17,000 acres. On May 8, a 70 mph wind made it impossible to control the blaze. It was on this day that nineteen men were trapped in a rock slide where the fire burned around them. They were rescued without any fatalities, but later expressed the opinion that they knew “just how a slice of toast feels”.IMG_7915

On May 9, a fire crew brought in a badly singed bear cub. They had found the cub clinging to the side of a burnt pine tree. Badly burned about the buttocks and feet, he was given the name “Hotfoot”. His name was soon changed to Smokey Bear.

IMG_7916 In 1952 Congress passed a bill into law governing the commercialization of the name and image of Smokey Bear. Due to the vast amount of mail he received, Smokey was given his own zip code.

Once Smokey recovered from his burns, he was moved to the National Zoo where he served his country for 25 years. That is equal to 70 human years and at that time was the mandatory retirement age of all Federal employees.

IMG_7919 Smokey died in 1976 and was returned to Capitan to be buried near the mountains where he was found.


  1. One of the folks that took care of the younhg Smokey Bear was a child named Judy Bell. Not me, but I've always felt an afinity with Smokey! :)

  2. Great History,most of us always had Smokey in our minds from our first days of camping. Be Safe out There. Sam & Donna..

  3. Hmmm. Thanks for that. I did not know that Smokey was a real bear.

  4. I still know the words to Smokey the Bear. "The" is not part of his name; the songwriter put it in to make it fit the beat. Many of us still have trouble leaving it out when referring to Smokey Bear.

  5. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you two! We are thankful God introduced us to you both!

  6. Great Story! I read it outloud to my family as we drove down the highway...
    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


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