Howdy Ranger! You Too, President Ford

Gerald Ford, shown here at age 23, was the only president who served as a national park ranger. NPS photo, cropped.

Gerald R. Ford, 38th president of the United States (1974-1977) was the only U.S. president ever to serve as a national park ranger. In the summer of 1936 he was a callow fellow, just 23 years old, when he journeyed west to Yellowstone National Park to work as a seasonal ranger.

He worked as an armed guard on the bear feeding truck and as a “meeter and greeter” for VIPs at the Canyon Hotel and Lodge. Ford, who died in 2006, called his stint as a park ranger “one of the greatest summers of my life.” His supervisor, Canyon District Ranger Frank Anderson, called him “a darn good ranger.”

President Ford was proud to have his picture taken in his ranger uniform. See if you can spot him in the slideshow at this site. Don’t worry about the smarmy intro; it gets lots better. And please, ladies, consider the temporal context of this production and forgive the “history-is-all-about-dead-white-guys” approach to the subject matter.

Watch for a photo showing a lone ranger (no pun intended) holding his hat at his side in his left hand. The photo accompanying this article, a cropped version of the one in the slide show, will help you recognize him.