Seeley Lake festival to honor Norman Maclean; Pete Dexter to headline

Seeley Lake festival to honor Norman Maclean; Pete Dexter to headline

John Maclean

John Maclean, son of author Norman Maclean, casts a line in 2012

To honor and celebrate the heritage of renowned author Norman Maclean, Alpine Artisans, a 23-year-old Seeley Lake arts organization, is hosting the inaugural In the Footsteps of Norman Maclean Festival the weekend of July 10-13.

Held in Seeley Lake and on the Blackfoot River, the festival will highlight those who remember Maclean's life in Seeley Lake, those who worked with him on "Young Men and Fire," and writers and scholars who have reviewed, analyzed and appreciate Maclean's works.

Attendees will hear from the forest ranger who walked the Mann Gulch with Maclean during his investigation, Maclean's students at the University of Chicago, and his son, author and journalist John Maclean. Keynote speaker and National Book Award winner Pete Dexter will recall the days he spent in Seeley Lake with Norman Maclean in the early 1980s and the influence Maclean had on his writing.

Included are tours of the actual fishing holes described in "A River Runs Through It," updates on the successful conservation efforts on the Blackfoot River and a full-day trip into Mann Gulch, the scene of the 1949 file that is the subject of Maclean's "Young Men and Fire."

Festival events will be held on the Blackfoot, in Seeley Lake at the Double Arrow Resort and at nearby Camp Paxson on Seeley Lake, the site of one of the nation's first smokejumper training centers. 

Saturday's events center on Norman Maclean's writings and the film, "A River Runs Through It." Sunday will focus on "Young Men and Fire" and the heritage of smokejumping in Montana. Monday's events feature a writing workshop and a tour of Mann Gulch, the scene of the tragic wildfire documented in Young Men and Fire.

More program details are available at

This effort originated in the Open Book Club program of Alpine Artisans, which has hosted 55 noted writers in our author series at the Grizzly Claw Trading Co.

Local historical and conservation organizations are partnering with AAI to make this event a success, including the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper, Clearwater Resource Council, Seeley Lake Community Foundation and Seeley Lake Historical Society.

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