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Tigers in the park

by JOSH McDONALD
Local Editor | August 25, 2023 1:00 AM

MULLAN –– Members of the Mullan/St. Regis Football Team took some time away from the gridiron to give back to their local community.

Members of the local grassroots organization the Pottsville Seven have been organizing cleanup and reclamation efforts at Pottsville Park, located just east of Mullan, between the city and the Idaho/Montana border. The park has been in disrepair for years and many of the folks volunteering to help with the various projects are getting older.

Under the direction of Seven members Ron Hayes, Sam Davis, and Bud Koski, the football players helped remove several trees that had been felled and cut into rounds during a previous project.

“It is important to involve high school youth in the restoration of the park,” Jim See said.

See is a retired guidance counselor for the Mullan School District and a member of the Pottsville Seven.

See gave the kids a brief history of the park prior to their work – which included him asking the students what they thought the best use for the park might be. So far horseshoe pits have been installed and an interpretative trail has been planned. Other ideas included establishing a volleyball/pickleball court, basketball hoops, and a disc golf course.

Over 20 members of the football team braved the sweltering heat as they hauled several cords of wood out of the park grounds where it was loaded into side-by-sides and trailers and hauled away from the park.

Over the years the park has been the target of numerous cases of vandalism, due mainly to the remote nature of most of the area – See and the rest of the Seven are hoping that by getting the area youth involved, the number of those cases will slow down or cease altogether.

“The team was challenged to help curb this problem by reporting damaging activities to trusted adults,” See told the News-Press.

“This is your park and we need your help to preserve and develop this very special place,” he told the athletes.

For Mullan head coach Stetson Spooner, the opportunity to get involved in a community project and take ownership of something as special as the historic park is a lesson that can be applicable on the field as well as in life.

“We feel that coaching any sport allows for opportunities to give back to a community more than just the everyday student,” Spooner said. “In my life as a student, athlete, teacher, and coach it's necessary for local sports teams to give back to their community in some way. For us, it's been beyond obvious and impactful when it comes to the support we have been getting from both communities during our football experiment these past few years. It's always easy for us to jump in and we’re always willing to go out of our way to help however we can.”

Pottsville Park, or East Shoshone Park as some know it, was formerly just a swampland called Pottsville Flats. Located near the site of a road camp during the construction of Captain John Mullan’s 600-mile road – Pottsville saw its first major change when the Mullan Masonic Lodge took control of the park in 1910 and built multiple bridges and facilities on the park property.

In 1931 the Shoshone County Parks Improvement Association took control of the park and after three years they struck a deal with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to help maintain the property. Other improvements and upgrades were made over the decades that followed and during that time the park became known as Pottsville.

Over the years, the facilities within the park have been rebuilt and repaired numerous times, including a full renovation of the park’s caretaker’s cabin and the reconstruction of one of the park’s outdoor pavilions.

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Courtesy photo

Mullan football player Zeke Hess packs a large chunj of tree across a bridge inside Pottsville Park during a recent cleanup event.