Smokey The Bear


When I was a little girl, I was given a teddy bear that was larger than I was!  To me, the words “Teddy” bear meant absolutely nothing to me.  Every stuffed bear in the world was 1 of 3, in the mind of any child of that era…Smokey The Bear, Yogi Bear or Booboo.

You may remember the advertisements of Smokey The Bear,  warning us to be careful to avoid starting a forest fire but did you know that Smokey was a real bear?


It was on May 9, 1950 that the face of forest fire prevention would change forever with the discovery of a badly singed bear cub.
Briefly named “Hotfoot Teddy” he was about to take his place in history as the “living symbol” Smokey. Found clinging to a charred tree, the tiny cub was brought back to fire camp by a group of soldiers from Ft. Bliss, Texas who had come to help fight the Capitan Gap fire. New Mexico game warden Ray Bell, who had been flying over the fire for fire boss Dean Earl, had heard of the burned cub. Ray knew the cub needed medical attention and the best veterinarian he knew was in Santa Fe. Ray loaded the little cub in the airplane and flew to Santa Fe. Once there, Dr. Ed Smith was the vet who treated the cubs burns.
Photographer Harold Walter took the first photos of Smokey while he posed with Judy Bell.  Those pictures captured the hearts of America!



In 1979, Smokey Bear Historical Park was established in Capitan New Mexico to honor Smokey Bear.  Smokey Bear rose to fame as an icon for forest fire prevention and he lived in Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo for 26 years.  When he passed away, the famous black bear was laid to rest in his hometown.  His burial site is a special place within the Smokey Bear Historical Park.



The Smokey Bear Historical Park is located on highway 380 (better known as 118 W. Smokey Bear Blvd.), in the heart of Capitan.  It is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Hours of operation are 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM. Entrance fees are $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children aged 7-12. Children 6 and under are free!
Smokey Bear Historical Park is operated by the New Mexico State Forestry Division.

While you’re there, take a drive up the road and visit Lincoln and Billy the Kid.


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