Moose Lake JohnsonMartin "Moose Lake" Johnson
A discussion about Moose Lake and Frog Pond Basin cannot be complete without mentioning Martin “Moose Lake” Johnson. According to the “Anaconda Leader Vacation Guide” in the Mail, July 4, 1991 Moose Johnson arrived in Montana in 1887. He lived first in Hamilton and then traveled across the Pintler area to Moose Lake where he began prospecting. In 1924 Martin purchased the Bashor Homestead for $1050.00 at a foreclosure sale and four years later deeded it to Edith and Leslie L. Savage. Then in 1930 he filed on the Mountain View claim which had lake frontage and until his death claimed surface rights on this property.
In” Gold on a Shoestring”, Elizabeth Hauck stated Martin was born in Fayette County, Iowa in 1862 to Olaf and Polly Kerr Johnson and grew up on a farm near Petersburg, Nebraska. His first recorded mining claim was in June 1897 when a group that included Moose filed for the Senate and some other claims south of Moose Lake. He kept an interest in the Senate which was being developed by Paddy Ward until 1934 when he gave Paddy a quit claim deed.
Although Moose never married, it is legend he named one of the Pintler Lakes, Phyllis after a girl friend he had in Hamilton. He earned his livelihood from trapping and hiring out as a guide to people that desired to hunt and fish in the backwoods area. His main home was always on the Banner Mine land but he had many cabins and lean-tos situated across the Pintler area. In these cabins he stayed through out the year as he followed his hunting, trap lines and prospecting habits.
His legacy was kindness to animals and one particular baby moose named “Bosco.” Johnson saved the calf moose from being taken away by the game wardens to be displayed at county fairs. I was not so fortunate in saving my moose Skalkaho from Marko the Game Warden. Only a couple of weeks after he was taken from me some boys broke into the zoo where the state had placed him. They tried to ride Skalkaho and broke his back, so he had to be euthanized.
Bosco The Moose
Hauck recounts a diary written by Moose that was found in the Taylor-Bennett cabin. It detailed the year 1934 in a daily log when Johnson was seventy years old. Hauck did not disclose where the diary was kept. But quoted a number of his adventures and delighted in the spelling he displayed in his colorful accounts of daily activities….such as “trapping for cioty and musrat and taveling to masula and green canion.” He noted a major purchase in March 1934 when he “recived a new car Stue Beggar Strait 6 payed for cash.”
In October of 1941, Moose, Heinie Winninghoff (from Philipsburg) and Emil Jarvi from Moose Lake set out to go deer hunting in the Pintlers. Johnson with two horses went ahead on Sunday the 19th to set up camp at his cabin on Johnson Lake. Winninghoff and Jarvi joined him on Monday. On Tuesday morning they separated to hunt, with Moose heading toward the hole-in-the-wall. Heinie and Emil shot their deer and returned to camp. They did not find Moose but were not worried as he often camped out over night. Wednesday, Winninghoff returned to Philipsburg and left word for Jarvi to check on Johnson. Jarvi found the first camp untouched and the pack animals tangled in their ropes. He telephoned into Philipsburg when he was unable to find Moose. A search party was formed that included Forest Ranger E.E. Redman, Sheriff Gus McDonald, Bryon Hynes, and Arne Nousianen. Moose’s body was found about noon on Saturday and the scene indicated that he: “…had taken a route that led across the face of a 150 foot cliff, 40 feet above a 300 foot talus slope. Tracks in the snow indicated he had lost his footing, fell and rolled to a spot where his body was found.”
Johnson’s funeral was October 29 with R.J. Huffman, E.R. (Heinie) Winninghoff, Fred Superneau, and E.E. Redman, of Philipsburg and E.L. Kunkel and Frank McKelvick of Anaconda as pallbearers. He was interred in the Philipsburg Cemetery where a handsome wrought iron Moose adorns his gravesite.