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The pulaski is the answer for Week 271 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: A handy tool

Tuesday: Useful in the woods

According to a U.S. Forest Service web archive, their folklore holds that the Pulaski fire fighting tool was invented by Edward C. Pulaski, a hero of the Great Idaho Fire of 1910, who led his crew to safety when they were in danger from the blaze.

Pulaski was a ranger with a talent for tinkering and struggled to solve equipment problems of the fledgling forestry profession. After fire fighting became an important function of forest agencies, common tools such as the shovel, ax, hoe and rake were used. Trying to be more efficient in the work as well as cut down on weight and bulk for transporting on horseback, foresters began modifying tools into combinations. It is likely that working a home workshop or blacksmith shops, the Pulaski a combination ax and mattock was devised.

One version of the events, according to the web site, was that the Pulaski was developed as a tree-planting tool by other agency staff (Joe Halm and Ed Holdomb), with a shovel as a third tool on the handle. The prototype was thought to be developed in Ed Pulaski's home blacksmith shop. He was fascinated by the potential of the tool, but abandoned the shovel and lengthened and reshaped the ax and mattock blade.

By 1920, the demand for the tool was so great that a commercial tool company was asked to take over manufacturing.

Whether Pulaski invented the tool is up for debate, but he did develop, improve and popularize it.

For further information on the tool, see:

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