SMOKEY THE BEAR, INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MINNESOTA, 1958
Wearing only pants and accessorized with a personalized belt buckle and ranger hat, this is the largest statue anywhere of the legendary best friend and protector of America’s forests. The 26-foot statue was dedicated in 1954 and stands there to this very day.
In the world of spokes-characters none are as noble, and few are as famous as Smokey. This year the poster bear celebrates his 60th year. He was the brainchild of The National Forest Service back in 1944. He was born to be the official symbol and spokesman for fire prevention; to keep careless campers from carelessly destroying the nations lumber supply. His first (and only) words were “only you can prevent forest fires.”
In 1950 Smokey came to life. A lucky little black bear cub, badly burned in a New Mexico forest fire, was rescued and rehabilitated then made into a star. He was named Smokey the bear and became the main attraction at the National Zoo in Washington DC. He received so much fan mail he had his own zip code.
In 1962 he was married to a young beautiful bear named Goldie in hopes that they would have a family of little Smokeys. But it wasn’t to be. They never had any cubs.
Smokey died in 1976. Ironically, his body was cremated.
God Bless Smokey the Bear